6 Vermont fall foliage drives through back roads

with 23 Comments

October is an exciting month to be in New England. The days begin to shorten but glorious sunshine continues to fill our days with warmth and radiance. Leaves are on the verge of changing color and the air is cooler. The region celebrates this change of season by fusing local activities with festivals. Apple, pumpkin picking, and cranberry harvesting are huge draws among local and domestic visitors. But as a nature lover and photography enthusiast, my favorite activity is leaf-peeping aka looking for scenic locations that are rich in fall foliage.

Having taken a few leaf-peeping trips in New England last year, we’d been eagerly planning a getaway to see fall foliage in Vermont, known to be at its brightest in this season.

Nature's colorful palette as seen in Vermont
Nature’s colorful palette as seen in Vermont

Best time to see fall colors in Vermont

What is the best time to visit Vermont in the fall? The fact that autumn is so seasonal and nature dependent makes a fall trip all the more compelling and adds a certain sense of adventure to the entire trip planning. Typically, early October is a good time to visit Vermont. Peak foliage in Vermont only lasts for a few days, so it is best to time yourself correctly. The Vermont.com foliage tracker was super useful in helping us track the peak timing for the foliage. 

Leaf peeping is a mix of spontaneous planning and careful tracking. Because the foliage colors depend on nature’s will, sighting depends on smart timing. The weekend we picked turned out to be a cloudy one, but that only made the colors appear richer. It is necessary to book accommodations in advance as fall is one of the busiest seasons in Vermont. While researching, we found that back roads and dirt roads are hidden fall gems, replete with stunning foliage displays and absolutely no crowds. So here are six suggested Vermont fall foliage drives, that will help you discover the magic of the season:

1. Stowe Hollow Road, Grandview Barn, Gold Brook Bridge

This is a long stretch of road that begins once you enter Stowe town. Look out for the Gold Brook Bridge on your left if you’re driving up north. Take a right turn into the road opposite the bridge. You’ll find the barn as you keep driving on. The section of Stowe Hollow Road leading up to the red color barn is especially beautiful with private farms and views of foliage-covered mountains in the background. Truly a spot for one of the best fall colors in Vermont.

Covered bridges during scenic Vermont drives

Road trips in Vermont are full of scenic stops

A fall photo of Bharat during Vermont leaf peeping

Red barn near Vermont dirt road

Tip: Drive through the dirt road right next to the barn. You’ll pass by a few private properties that are off limits, but the sights are pretty.

2. Lake Elmore, Worcester

This is an alternative highway that connects Stowe and Montpelier that we’re so glad to have found thanks to the Tourist Information Center in Stowe. The distance is roughly the same as the main highway, but the views are wonderful. If you’re departing from Stowe, continue on the historic Route 100 towards Lake Elmore. Look out for multiple photo worthy spots on this section of the route. Google Maps actually throws you outside private cabins near the lake – but just keep driving. When you’re about to exit the narrow road, look to your right. A foliage covered road will take you to a spot with sweeping views of the lake. Perfect for a picnic, and zero crowds.

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Set your GPS to Montpelier and drive further ahead through Worcester. You’ll notice the Worcester range on your way as you cruise through a network free road that is bursting with colors.

Tip: This route can be driven in the reverse direction as well. So you’d be on the same road driving north from Montpelier towards Stowe.

3. Sparrow Farm Road, Montpelier

I had read about this route in Happy Vermont‘s guide on Vermont scenic drives. Luckily for us, this drive was connected to the route from Worcester. We took a quick detour as soon as we found network and set the GPS for Sparrow Farm Road. Once we entered this road, we found a few people walking around, which was rare but understandable because of the sights that surrounded us. You’ll cross a section of the farm with lush meadows and orange-red trees. We also spotted cows at a distance. To get to Montpelier from here, you’ll be connected to North Street, which is a steep drive down or up depending on the direction you enter from.

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Tip: Get out and walk like the locals! Also, stop by at the Statehouse in Montpelier later.

4. Beaver Meadow Road, Sharon-Norwich

Imagine a never ending road with yellow trees and no cars or people. The trees form a natural canopy and leaves fall by your window as you drive along! Further south of Montpelier, this road connects the towns of Sharon and Norwich. The foliage on this route is dramatic. It’s a spot made for portrait shots!

 

A photo posted by Fun Travelog (@funtravelog) on

Tip: Stop by a small lake on the route, for a moment complete silence.

5. Sleepy Hollow Farm, Cloudland Road, Woodstock

You’ll never find Sleepy Hollow Farm, Vermont or Sleepy Hollow Farm Woodstock VT on Google Maps or your GPS! Enter Cloudland Road in Woodstock on Google to get to this location. This route is a photography lover’s dream. Since we were driving from Norwich, the route took us through a red-colored covered bridge called Taftsville, followed by a narrow stretch of a dirt road by a river (again, very scenic). Cloudland Road begins with signs for farms and continues all the way up a mini hill. Fallen leaves and orange, yellow trees transform the road into a welcoming carpet. Keep driving along and at the end of the road, you’re likely to see photographers with tripods. Get off and look to your right – that breathtaking view is Sleepy Hollow Farm. This is the most photographed farm in Vermont.

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Tip: Stay! Soak in the views.

6. Jenne Farm near Woodstock, Jenne Road, Reading Hill

Fifteen minutes south of Woodstock, in the town of Reading is a dirt road leading up to the Jenne Farm. As you enter, stop your car and walk around. Panoramic views of hills, foliage and farms will leave you awestruck. This also happens to be one of the most photographed farms in New England. Drive through the winding road and the only souls you’ll encounter are fellow travelers and some cows. The end of this road is connected to various private properties – again off limits, so turn around before you venture too far.

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Tip: Look before you walk to avoid cattle poop! #truestory

Map: Vermont fall foliage drives

Bonus resources

Happy Vermont: Erica Housekeeper’s blog was my bible when I was researching driving routes. We found the Stowe Hollow Road, Beaver Meadow and Montpelier routes on her blog!

Steve Carroll’s Photos: For general inspiration for Vermont. His photos have a few scenic spots labeled.

Happy Vermonting :)
Happy Vermonting 🙂

More New England leaf-peeping ideas

If you’ve been leaf-peeping in another state or country, do share your favorite spots! Meanwhile, read some of our other New England fall foliage posts below.

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These are the best Vermont fall foliage drives.
These are the best Vermont fall foliage drives.

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Supriya
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As a kid, Supriya had to be brought back to reality from her daydreaming excursions. A digital marketer by profession, she enjoys reading, writing and photography. Her wanderlust list changes each week, but she's strongly eyeing countries in South America and the Middle East as destinations for her journeys :)

23 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Jessica
    |

    Being from New York State, I love the Northeast this time of the year. Haven’t experienced much of Vermont but this is a motivation to go!

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      I hear you Jessica. VT is definitely the best we have been to when it comes to leaf-peeping so far, with Berkshires closely taking the second spot. Hope you get to plan your Vermont trip soon and see some of these spots 🙂

  2. Avatar
    knycx.journeying
    |

    The photos were epic and I love foliage, it makes everything much more romantic. Thanks for sharing! @knycx.journeying

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Yay! Glad you loved these pictures, in fact these are going to be our Christmas postcards most certainly to some friends soon 🙂

  3. Avatar

    I love this list! Fall is hands-down my favorite season, and a little road trip to see fall colors at their prettiest has been on my to-do list for a very long time! Your photos are beautiful. The drive to Lake Elmore sounds like a dream, especially when it’s topped off by a lakeside picnic!

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Thanks for the appreciation Beth. Picnic at Lake Elmore could be just one excuse again for us to hit the road to Vermont next year! Hope you get to plan your fall-trip soon!!

  4. Avatar
    Carmen's Luxury Travel
    |

    Beautiful photos! October is one of my favorite months. I’d love to take a New England road trip, thanks for sharing!

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Thanks Carmen. Hands-down it is also our favorite month, though we love the summer vibes too 😉

  5. Avatar
    Elena
    |

    All photos look fantastic, but my personal favorite is from Beaver Meadow Road. Somehow, it brought childhood memories about venturing into autumn forests to pick up some brightly colored leaves and make home decorations out of them. Thank you for posting!

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Thanks for dropping by Elena. Yes, Beaver Meadow Road was special 🙂 I loved collecting pine cones and leaves last year. Must get back!

  6. Avatar
    Richard Willis
    |

    I really love the shots,oh my that place is so beautiful!

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Thanks Richard, yep those places are for real 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Sonali Chauhan
    |

    Thanks Supriya…. for sharing this wonderful info about “6 foliage drives through back roads of Vermont” ! I really like this article & the way you have expire all details.

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Happy that it was helpful – Vermont is one of my favorite states here in the US and we just keep discovering more each year 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Agness of Fit Travelling
    |

    I love reading about you travel experiences, Supriya! The photos and the stops your captured are marvelous.

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Thanks for stopping by Agness 🙂 . Vermont is absolutely our favorite state in New England area and it is hard to take a bad picture during Fall season. Are you planning to visit anytime soon?
      PS: we can’t wait to head back this Spring again!

  9. […] round sugar house at Morse Farm Stay at a cozy bed and breakfast like Homeplace Take a scenic drive through the foliage Stay in a cabin with a great view […]

  10. Avatar
    Lucas
    |

    Hi, Supriya! Your photos are amazing! My wife and I are planning to drive around some parts of Vermont to see the foliage. I want to ask you 2 things:

    1) The Sleepy Hollow Farm – Do we get to see there and take photos? Is it open to public? Is there a hotel or inn around that area? Is it worth going there?

    2) The only time we have available to travel is End of November and early December. Tell me: do we still get to see some foliage?

    • Supriya
      Supriya
      |

      Hi Lucas,

      Thank you for appreciating our post. To answer your questions:

      1. You can watch the Sleepy Hollow Farm from the outside but I don’t think we saw anyone going inside. It is open to the public to take photos. You’ll definitely notice photographers during foliage season. However people take photographs of this place all seasons- your best bet will be to stay in the town of Woodstock, VT
      2. Unfortunately, peak foliage season is in early to mid-October and November end will be late for prime viewing. I hope you are able to switch your dates – it’s totally worth it.

      Supriya

  11. […] fall season is when Vermont is at its colorful best. Nature lovers can drive through backroads for foliage viewing, visit farms, pick pumpkins, taste cider donuts, and enjoy the slight nip in the air.There are lots […]

  12. […] 6 Vermont fall foliage drives through back roads […]

  13. […] charming towns Vermont is by far one of the most beautiful states in the United States. Plan a Vermont fall foliage road trip, and you’ll know […]

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