A Stowe, Vermont Road Map for Hiking with Kids
The beautiful mountains and woods surrounding Stowe make it a perfect hiking destination, and the reason why many people decide to visit our beautiful area!
If you’ve got little ones along with you, it’s helpful to know what is out there and how to make a day on the trail successful. We have personal experience taking our own three young children up the mountains to explore and be rewarded with amazing vistas at the summit.
Below is a helpful ‘road map’ for anyone hoping to get out on the trails in Stowe, VT with young ones. In our experience it’s important to have fun and offer just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting and end the day feeling a great sense of accomplishment.
For ages 3+
Wiessner Woods (PDF)
Preserved by Stowe Land Trust, Wiessner Woods encompasses 79 acres of beautiful Vermont forest.
Wiessner Woods is perfect for smaller children, with a clear path and minimal elevation change, and a great spot to explore at any time of the year! You can choose to make this hike as long or as short as you like, which makes it a great choice for those with shorter legs!
Highlights include the Vernal Pool chock full of salamanders and frogs in the spring, and the Spruce-Pine-Hardwood Forest with its century-old trees. In addition to hiking, people love this location for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog walking, and it’s located along the Mountain Road, making it easily accessible for all visitors to Stowe.
With no steep climbs and few hazards, this is a great place to get young children and toddlers introduced to the fun of hiking!
For Ages 5+
Mill Trail (PDF)
Located on 31 acres of preserved land, this trail is great for families looking to learn something new. The property features three historic structures: two log cabins dating back to the early 1900’s, remnants of “Sallies Farm” from the 1840s, and the former Orlando Turner Saw Mill and Tub Factory.
For stunning views of natural waterfalls, check out Bingham Falls half a mile up the trail. The waterfall is part of a 72-acre property preserved by Stowe Land Trust, whose conservation efforts were in part to the help the local bear population that depends on the wildlife corridor for seasonal movement and feeding habitat.
The area features a large forest with a variety of local trees and wildlife and multiple natural waterfalls and gorges.
Really fun for kids, this hike features a sparkling pond at the top, perfect for taking a rest, a few pictures, and fueling up with a picnic.
The trail is 2.3 miles long, so you should plan on 2-3 hours if you’re hiking with kids, plus some time to relax and enjoy the pond at the top. This hike features some steep climbs as well as some flat spots, a perfect trip when kids want to get to the next level.
Both the Mill Trail and Sterling Pond have areas with cliffs so it is important that children are able to follow instructions and understand hiking safety.
For ages 6+
Finally, if your family is up for more of a challenge, check out the Pinnacle Trail. This is a somewhat challenging hike and can be tiring for both kids and adults. Make sure everyone has some hiking experience and pack enough water and food for the day!
The 2.9-mile round-trip trail starts out slow and ends in a steep climb to mountain-top views of Mount Mansfield to the northwest, Mount Hunger to the south and Camels Hump to the southwest.
Along the way, be sure to say hi to the local trail experts, golden retrievers Sampson and Baylor!
Mount Mansfield is the tallest mountain in Vermont, making it one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes. To make it a bit easier with kids, we recommend taking the Auto Toll Road, which will get you close to the top for a scenic 1.3-mile hike from the road to the chin of Mt. Mansfield.
The toll road costs $24 per vehicle/driver and $9 for each additional passenger over the age of 5.
From the ridge, you’ll get stunning views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks (NY), the White Mountains (NH), and even Canada. The top of the hike is above the tree line, which means the terrain is rocky and fun for kids to climb around without being too challenging for younger ones, but be sure to stay inside the designated trails!
This is just a sampling of what is available in Stowe and the surrounding areas. There are many more trails of varying difficulty nearby that are sure to please hikers of all levels!
A few tips for parents we’ve learned hiking with our own kids:
- Follow the age road map above and present new challenges step by step to your kids. You know your own children best, so know your family’s limits and prioritize safety above everything else!
- Go into it with no expectations and celebrate reaching new milestones along the way.
- Take lots of water and snacks. We recommend incentive breaks after setting goals, i.e. “We’ll take an M&M break after we’ve turned the next corner.”
- The most important goal is to have fun, enjoy the outdoors and build confidence in your kids to challenge themselves!