Traveling has always been one of my passions. The world is full of fascinating places and cultures and I hope to see as much of it as I can.
Autumn is the perfect time to experience the colorful transformation of the landscape in southern Vermont. With winter rapidly approaching, the area’s ski resorts are a great way to take in the beautiful fall foliage before snow graces their slopes. Most ski resorts open up their chair lifts for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts during the summer months. In the fall, it’s a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the colorful kaleidoscope that descends upon New England. And Mount Snow is the perfect place to take in the majesty of this wonder of nature.
A Scenic Loop through Southern Vermont
A nice foliage tour that will include a stop at Mount Snow can start in Brattleboro just off of Interstate 91 that runs north-south from the coastline of Connecticut all the way to the Canadian border. The scenic loop described here can be done either clockwise or counterclockwise. We decided to do a counterclockwise loop. You’ll be traversing just three roads, Routes 30, 100, and 9, and the tour will cover about 65 miles. With stops you should be able to cover this in anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, depending on how often and how much time you spend at stops.
Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.
— Lauren Destefano
Brattleboro makes a great starting and ending point for a couple of reasons. Given that it’s the closest sizable town to a major highway in southern Vermont means you’ll likely be starting the tour here. It’s also a wonderful, laid-back, eclectic community loaded with great restaurants, museums, breweries, and galleries. Before heading out to see the foliage consider spending some time checking it out.
Heading north out of Brattleboro on Route 30 you will come to the Grafton Village Cheese Company that has been operating since 1892. We packed a picnic and this was the perfect place to stop and enjoy a leisurely lunch while enjoying the foliage. You can watch the handmade cheese-making process in addition to tasting the final product and doing a little shopping in their cheese store.
Not far up the road is the West Dummerston Covered Bridge that is the oldest continuously operating covered bridge in Vermont. This is a great place to stop and get some great shots of one of Vermont’s famed covered bridges. Just be careful as the bridge is still in use today. The bridge spans the West River, which follows Route 30 and makes for a very scenic ride.
You’ll pass the towns of Newfane and Townshend before leaving Route 30 and heading south on Route 100. Before the junction of Route 100, we stopped in Townshend as there is a beautiful white church, the First Congregational Church and Meetinghouse, located on the Townshend Common. Townshend is small, quaint, and just typical of what you would expect from a small New England village in the middle of nowhere. It makes for a great photo with the colorful foliage framing the white church.
Continuing southwest on Route 100 takes you into the Green Mountain National Forest and eventually to the Mount Snow Ski Resort. This is a beautiful area of Vermont and a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. No matter what interests you, be it winter skiing, summer hiking, biking, or the fall foliage, this is a great region to enjoy all that Vermont has to offer.
Mount Snow is located in the quaint community of Dover in southern Vermont. This is the southern end of the Green Mountains. With over 100 peaks above 3,000 feet and nine peaks over 4,000 feet, it’s a beautiful landscape no matter the season.
The Bluebird Express is Mount Snow’s high-speed chair lift that whisks visitors to the top of Mount Snow at 3,586 feet in a little over eight minutes. The lift takes visitors for a ride of almost 7,400 feet and with its bubble design will protect riders from the elements. The other notable feature of the Bluebird Express is that it seats six passengers, which is unique for a sit-down chairlift. Mount Snow was the first ski resort in the country with a high-speed, 6-seat, detachable chair lift in 2011.
From the summit of Mount Snow, you have a stunning view across four states on a clear day. During the fall foliage season, the views are incredible and this is a popular option for leaf peepers. With a network of trails, there are plenty of hiking opportunities or you can simply take in the views while relaxing with lunch at the rustic Bullwheel restaurant/tavern. Many folks opt to take the Bluebird Express to the top and then hike down. This can take anywhere from an hour to 2 hours. If you don’t want to take the scenic ride to the summit there are plenty of hiking options from the base of the mountain that afford stunning views of the foliage.
If you’re into Mountain Biking, Mount Snow has lift-service to the top for your bike and you can ride down a ski trail. If you’re new to the sport you can try Trail-7, designed as an introductory downhill trail for beginners. Mount Snow has been providing mountain bikers access to the mountain for over thirty years and has an extensive network of trails for riders of all abilities. With over 35 miles of trails you can spend hours riding in the serenity of the beautiful Green Mountains.
If you’d like to go straight to Mount Snow and skip the scenic drive it’s approximately 45 minutes from both Brattleboro to the east and Bennington to the west. All of the roads in southern Vermont are beautiful in autumn so going directly to Mount Snow still takes in plenty of foliage scenery. You can actually spend all day hiking or biking around Mount Snow and you’ll be doing it amidst the beautiful multicolored landscape of southern Vermont.
Continuing south on route 100 from Mount Snow will take you to charming Wilmington. Wilmington has a lot going for it and during peak foliage season the town is bustling with visitors. Its Historic Downtown is the perfect venue for shopping, locally-owned restaurants, and cozy inns. It would also make a great base from which to explore southern Vermont. Just outside of town on Route 100 is the Wilmington Antique & Flea Market, which runs every Saturday and Sunday from mid-May to mid-October. We spent some time browsing the flea market and came away with some yummy Pure Vermont Maple Syrup.
Back to Brattleboro
As you head back to Brattleboro on Route 9, otherwise known as the Molly Stark Trail, you’ll pass a very popular stop that will surely grab your attention. In addition to a scenic overlook with stunning views, there is also the Beer Naked Brewery, Vermont Distillers, the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, and the Hogback Mountain Country Store. A plethora of attractions to please just about anyone. Even if none of these establishments interest you this area is worth a stop just for the view alone.
Distance and Time from Major Hubs
- Boston to Brattleboro: 105 miles - 2 hours and 15 minutes.
- Hartford to Brattleboro: 84 miles - 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Springfield to Brattleboto: 58 miles - 55 minutes.
- Albany to Brattleboro: 79 miles - 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Providence to Brattleboro: 124 miles - 2 hours and 15 minutes.
- Manchester to Brattleboro: 84 miles - 1 hour and 35 minutes.
© 2020 Bill De Giulio