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3 Short Family Hikes in Vermont

by Barbara Rogers

Jun 20, 2024

© Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

Vermont’s forest, lakes and mountains are a playground for families who love nature and the out-of-doors. And the good news for families traveling in Vermont is many of its hiking and walking trails are free, and those located in state parks are accessible with admission fees that cover use of the picnic areas, beaches and recreation facilities, less than $20 for a family of four. These trails are popular with families:

 

Mount Olga

Not far from Vermont’s southern border, Mount Olga rewards hikers with a mountaintop view across southern Vermont and western Massachusetts, with the added thrill for kids of a fire tower at its summit. The 2-mile loop trail begins in Molly Stark State Park on Route 9 in Wilmington, so you’re starting at some of the highest road access in the Green Mountains. This gives you a lot of altitude for a relatively easy climb. For a longer hike to the summit, but one still suitable for children, you can park free a little way to the east, where Route 9 reaches the crest of Hogback Mountain.

 

Brattleboro Retreat Trails

Not far away, 9 miles of trails wind through the woods and across a hillside overlooking the Connecticut River in Brattleboro. You can access the Retreat Trail network from Route 9 (Western Avenue) or from Retreat Farm on Route 30 (Linden Street). Landmarks on the trails are the castle-like stone tower; a pond used to cut ice for the Retreat; and the towering Harris Ski Jump, where national ski jumping competitions are held. Near the farm is a storybook trail with activities for children, and a 1-mile Woodlands Interpretive Trail at the far south end of the trail system.

 

Owl’s Head and Peacham Bog

In northern Vermont, Groton State Forest offers more than 10 trails. The short climb to the summit of Owl’s Head begins with stone steps built into the mountainside, and at the top the reward is a view out across the mountains and ponds. At the top is also a short course in geology, where kids can learn how the dramatic stripes in the rock were formed as molten rock cooled. Stop at the Nature Center for a map to this and the trail through the spooky Peacham Bog Natural Area, one of Vermont’s largest bogs, complete with insect-eating pitcher plants.

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