Foliage Hikes


Submitted by Stowe Land Trust.

Vermont is known for its epic foliage. Every fall, thousands of people come to ogle the Green Mountains shrouded in hues ranging from crimson to coral, hot pink to goldenrod. To aid you in experiencing all that Stowe has to offer this foliage season, we’d like to share with you some of our favorite easy foliage hikes on conserved lands. If you are looking for longer day hikes in the area, be sure to visit the Green Mountain Club for maps and information.

Pinnacle Meadow is a quick 15-minute hike that offers big rewards. Enjoy stunning views along the Worcester Range and across to the Green Mountains. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the meadow, or continue to the rocky summit of Stowe Pinnacle. Learn more and get directions.

Sunset Rock is located in the heart of Stowe’s Historic Village. Walk a short but steep distance from Sunset Street up the Sunset Rock Trail for a birds-eye view of Stowe’s Main Street. Continue to the Upper Overlook for a glimpse of Mt Mansfield. Download a trail map.

Entering the Mill Trail property is like stepping into another world. The rushing river masks present-day distractions and the wide trail begs the question: who and what used to be here? The remnants of cellar holes and fairy-tale cabins only add to the mystery of this unique property. Follow the trail to the popular Bingham Falls for a terrific spectacle of falling water and foliage. Download a trail map.

Wiessner Woods is popular with dog owners and families out for a close-to-home adventure. Take in the views from the scenic overlook on the Meadow Trail or simply enjoy the riot of yellows, oranges and reds from the trails.

Once an active sugar bush, Kirchner Woods is full of mature sugar Maples. Now home to a fun 3-mile trail network, it’s open to hikers, bikers and great for families with little ones. For a short jaunt, visit the Sipping Tree on the Lower Bucket Trail. Download a trail map.

Easily accessible from the Mountain Road in Stowe, Cady Hill Forest has over 11 miles of trails and is popular with both mountain bikers and hikers. Hop on two wheels to take a quick tour of the whole forest or stretch your legs on a short hike to the Green Chair and gaze out through the ‘tree window’ at majestic Mt Mansfield. Download a trail map.

Why do leaves change color?

As summer ends and autumn comes, the days get shorter and shorter. This is how the trees “know” to begin getting ready for winter.

During winter, there is not enough light or water for photosynthesis. The trees will rest, and live off the food they stored during the summer. They begin to shut down their food-making factories. The green chlorophyll disappears from the leaves.

As the bright green fades away, we begin to see yellow and orange colors. Small amounts of these colors have been in the leaves all along. We just can’t see them in the summer, because they are covered up by the green chlorophyll.

GMB_FoliageHikesThe bright reds we see in leaves are made mostly in the fall. In   some trees, like maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops. Sunlight and the cool nights of autumn cause the leaves to turn this glucose into a red color. The brown color of trees like oaks is made from wastes left in the leaves.

It is the combination of all these things that make the beautiful fall foliage colors we enjoy each year.


From Science Made Simple.