Road, Lake, Green Mountains, Vermont

Summer Hiking Adventures Near Waterbury: Trails with Stunning Views

Surrounded by protected wilderness, hundreds of miles of well-maintained trails, and high-alpine views within the Green Mountains and Worcester Range, Waterbury is a dream for hiking enthusiasts. From the blooming wildflowers of spring and rushing brooks of summer to autumn’s striking foliage and winter’s snowy solitude, Vermont hiking trails are beautiful throughout every season. Just a few miles from our Waterbury Bed and Breakfast, you’ll find dense forests, wide-open meadows, gorgeous valleys, and epic peaks  – quickly reachable and perfect for seasoned trekkers and newbie hikers alike.

The Long Trail is a popular hiking trail that runs throughout the state of Vermont from north to south
Long Trail – A Storied Vermont Hiking Legacy, and Easy Access from Waterbury

Perhaps the most legendary of all the Vermont hiking trails, the Long Trail, with its 272-mile route, traverses the entire state and goes right through our central Vermont region. Formed over two decades in the early 20th century by the Green Mountain Club, the Long Trail inspired the more famous Appalachian Trail, a portion of which goes through Vermont. Club members focus their ongoing conservation work on the Long Trail and 500 additional miles of hiking routes that connect to a more extensive statewide trail network. 

As the oldest long-distance Vermont hiking path in the country, exploring a portion of the Long Trail is a right of passage. A particularly scenic section starts just north of Waterbury at the base of Stowe Resort, one of the oldest and best ski resorts in our area, and where the ski mountain boundaries encompass Mt. Mansfield, the state’s highest peak at 4,393 feet. Head 17 miles north to Stowe and start your day at the Barnes Camp Visitor Center, a historic ski dorm converted into a spring and summer (open May through October) outpost for the Green Mountain Club. Grab a trail map and jump on the Long Peak Trail to Mt. Mansfield route, which climbs 2,500 feet in the first two miles – it’s certainly challenging but also rewarding as the views get better and better. With landmarks named after the contours of a face, you’ll reach the “Adam’s Apple” at around 4,000 feet, worth a short stop to enjoy the crisp air and scenery, and finally, the summit “Chin,” where the views stretch clear to the White Mountains of New Hampshire on a cloudless afternoon. Allow 3-5 hours to complete the round-trip, which covers five miles overall amidst 2,700 feet of climbing. After getting this serious hike under your belt, treat yourself to refreshing drinks and delicious food at Stowe Cider, one of our favorite cideries near Waterbury. 

For a more secluded Long Trail route in the same vicinity, but this time heading south of Stowe, take a left on Moscow Road (before where Route 108 turns off to Stowe) and follow it until you arrive at the Lake Mansfield trailhead. Take the Lake Mansfield Trail to the Long Trail heading south, climbing 2,000 feet, where you’ll eventually reach the Puffer Shelter – one of 72 overnight wooden shelters along the Long Trail maintained by the Green Mountain Club. Named after Louis Puffer, one of the early pioneers and cartographers during the Long Trail’s formation, the structure’s open-sided design allows for simultaneous protection from the elements and unobstructed views. For an extra memorable outing, do the 5-mile approach hike one day, sleep in the shelter, and awake early the following morning for an unreal sunrise before pushing south over the peak of Bolton Mountain, continuing past the ski resort to the Route 2 trailhead. Then check in to the Old Stagecoach Inn for a well-deserved zero day. (Make sure to arrange your trailhead pickup/drop-off at least a couple days ahead of time.) 

Stowe Pinnacle and Hunger Mountain – Iconic Peaks and Spectacular Views Just Outside Waterbury

Two favorite local trails leading to summits are less than ten miles from downtown Waterbury and accessible off Route 100 heading north. The Stowe Pinnacle trail is one of the more beginner-friendly hikes available — only a 3-mile round tripp — traversing through deciduous forests and massive meadows along the route. You’ll get your first excellent view just a half-mile in when you reach the Pinnacle Meadow Vista. Snap some photos here before continuing to climb over 1,000 feet throughout the next mile, eventually reaching the exposed and rocky summit, where you’ll have panoramas of Mt. Mansfield, the Stowe Valley, and the CC Putnam State Forest (the fifth largest state-managed forest in Vermont) stretched out below. After you descend, head a mile over to the Gold Brook Covered Bridge, known locally as Emily’s Bridge — one of several historic covered bridges near Waterbury and one with a unique and haunted backstory. 

Take a day trip to Waterbury Center and stop by the Green Mountain Club Visitor Center, the central hub of the GMC, where you can pick up trail maps, get up-to-date hiking conditions from their knowledgeable staff, and learn more about the Long Trail. The visitor center represents classic Vermont-style environmental stewardship with its solar power, biomass heating, composting toilets, and 100% energy-independent design. After having lunch in the sunshine on their outdoor picnic tables, head just 5 miles outside Waterbury Center to the Hunger Mountain trailhead. Like Stowe Pinnacle, this hike includes a scenic mix of terrain as you ascend via the Waterbury Trail toward the summit, just above 3,500 feet. The roundtrip is four miles, with over 2,000 feet of elevation change, resulting in captivating views from this memorable peak in the Worcester Range, looking down upon the serene waters of Waterbury Reservoir and across to Mt. Manfield, standing tall on the other end of the valley. 

Couple hiking in the woods in Vermont

Summertime Summit Vistas and All-Mountain Vermont Hiking at Bolton Valley, Plus General Hiking Tips

Bolton Valley Resort, proudly independent in spirit and known as a year-round mountain sports destination, converts from winter skiing to biking and hiking in the warmer months. Their base area has the highest elevation of any resort in Vermont, at 2,100 feet, making it an excellent jumping-off point for summer hikes. Starting in June, the Wilderness and Vista chairlifts service a full-scale mountain bike park (a fun, family-friendly Waterbury summer activity), but you can still hike up the ski runs that are not part of the bike park. From both summits – Wilderness Peak at 3,120 feet and Vista Peak at 3,200 feet – you’ll have 360-degree views, including Lake Champlain, which is especially magical at sunset. Their summits genuinely live up to the Bolton family motto – “where beautiful views await you.” 

Hiking at Bolton Valley is free of charge throughout the mountain, including the prominent peaks and lower-down cross-country ski trails, where the climbing grade is less intense. The Harrington’s View trail climbs 500 feet over a 90-minute route, providing access to a portion of the Long Trail – ideal if you want to do part of the Long Trail without the hours-long commitment of the more arduous Mt. Mansfield segment. The trail to Bryant Cabin is another beginner-friendly option, where you’ll reach a summit of 2,700 feet at the still-standing cabin, which dates back nearly a century to when downhill skiing first arrived in the Green Mountains. After spending the morning on the Bolton Valley trails, enjoy a gyro, burger, or grain bowl with a refreshing local microbrew on the sunny patio at the James Moore Tavern in the resort base area.  

Whether you visit during the middle of winter—when these trails are still accessible with microspikes or snowshoes—or at the height of summer, preparation is paramount to making your trail outing the best it can be. Hiking poles make your downhills much easier and safer, especially in slippery conditions. Bring proper layers, as exposed summit peaks are often windy and cooler even on “warm” days in spring, summer, and fall. Check the weather beforehand for the possibility of thunderstorms or precipitation, packing rain gear if necessary, and bug spray is your friend during the summer when mosquitoes and black flies are common. Also, be vigilant of ticks and bring enough water to stay hydrated, but most of all – enjoy the trails, embrace the outdoors, and savor the majestic Green Mountain views. 

Stay with us and get out for adventures on Vermont hiking trails just minutes away—where picturesque meadows and valleys lead to breathtaking alpine views!