Dog-Friendly Hikes: Vermont
Posted by Jen Sotolongo on 31st July 2019
Vermont is well known for its hiking and outdoor culture, thanks in part to the fact that 78% of the state is forested. Two iconic thru hikes pass through the state: the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail. Long winters have earned the state the nickname “Vermud,” so keep that in mind when selecting your footwear.
The expansive nature lends well to dog-friendly trekking, with plenty of trails for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy. Pick from the sample below as you plan your next visit to the Green Mountain State!
Texas Falls Recreation Area - Green Mountain National Forest
This short hike is for the waterfall lovers. Texas Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Vermont, so you know it’s worth the trek. Texas Creek plunges deep into carved rocks for a dramatic scene that can be viewed from several bridges and observation areas. Don’t let the easy status fool you, the rocks and steps can be slippery, and the current is strong. Swimming is prohibited after several accidents over the years.
Owlshead Mountain Trail - New Discovery State Park
Hit this trail during peak wildflower season for a colorful display along the trek. The hike can get busy, so arrive early to find a parking spot and avoid the crowds. Enjoy the view of the lake from the top as well as the surrounding mountains as far as you can see. During autumn, the brilliant colors span for miles. A covered shelter at the top makes a great picnic area to enjoy the scenery.
Moss Glen Falls - CC Putnam State Forest
Stop at Moss Glen Falls during a visit to Stowe to stretch your legs on this short and easy hike. The 125-foot falls are a photographer’s dream. If you have more time, you can continue on to do the full trail which may take you past an active beaver colony if you’re lucky. Past the falls, the trail is not well marked, to be sure to bring an offline map along.
Stowe Pinnacle Trail - CC Putnam State Forest
This short, but sweet hike is a perfect balance between not too easy and not too difficult. The highlights for most hikers are Samson and Baylor, two friendly golden retrievers who live at the base of the trail. Several accounts mention them joining their group to the top, so if you can’t bring your own dog on this trip, chances are you can borrow some here! After the dogs, the views steal the show. Many trekkers bring their dogs on this trail, so if you have a reactive dog who prefers a less-trafficked trail, it’s probably best to go early in the morning or during the off-season.
Burnt Rock Mountain via Hedgehog Brook Trail - Green Mountain National Park
For hikers looking for a low-traffic hike that offers just about everything, Burnt Rock is a great choice. In just over five miles, this out-and-back offers stream crossings, steep climbs, wooden stairs, and granite scrambles. Since the trail is located on private land, it is of utmost importance to practice Leave No Trace Principles (for your dog, too) and treat the land as if it were your own. From the top, it is possible to see Lake Champlain, the Mad River Valley, and nearby peaks.
Sterling Pond Trail - Smugglers’ Notch State Park
Start early for a better chance of having the trail to yourself, but more importantly, to see the pond in its most tranquil state. The short 2.3-mile trail starts off with a steep ascent before progressing into undulating terrain. For those who want to tack on a bit more, the Elephant’s Head Trail circumnavigates the lake and meets back up with the Sterling Pond Trail. Best to do during the dry season.
Camel’s Hump Trail - Camel’s Hump State Park
Reach the peak of Vermont’s third-tallest peak by choosing from one of several trail options. The most popular route is a tough out and back along the Monroe Trail. You’ll reach the 4,081-foot peak in 6.8 miles while climbing 2,578 feet of elevation. Though the trail is certainly steep, there are level sections to stop and catch your breath. The top offers 360° views of neighboring mountains. Don’t forget the bugspray during the summer months!
Mount Mansfield - Underhill State Park
Summit the highest peak in the state in this 7.3-mile loop. Recommended only for very knowledgeable hikers, the most technical part of the trail appears near the beginning. There are a couple parts of this section that may be difficult for some dogs. One is a steep wall and the other is a chasm that requires a leap. Know your dog’s abilities and bring a harness like the Journey Air Dog Harness which has a handle and two leash attachment points to help them over these tricky parts.
Fun fact: Mount Mansfield is one of two places in Vermont where one can find Alpine Tundra. Parking at Underhill State Park costs $4/person and includes potable water and bathroom facilities.
Emily Proctor Trail - Green Mountain National Forest
This lightly trafficked trail likely sees more moose than humans, so if your dog has a tendency to chase wildlife, keep them on leash and consider putting a bear bell on their collar. The hike described here ends at a shelter where hikers can enjoy lunch before returning to their car or spend the night if they choose. For those who want to continue on, they can hop on the Long Trail in either direction to add some extra miles.
Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past few years, she and her partner have taken their dogs around the globe including a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.
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