6 Kid-Friendly Vermont Fall Adventures

A footbridge on the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

Fall is here! Exploring nature in all four seasons is exactly why we love living in New England. From September to October, the leaves start to change, the air feels crisp, and everyone starts chatting about apple picking, corn mazes and foliage. Here we break down places to explore with kids in the fall, whether it’s by hiking, biking, birding, or kayaking. As usual, remember plenty of snacks, water, and a raincoat so you can be outside for as long as you want. Oh, and of course: remember a camera!

Eagle Mountain and Eagle Mountain Natural Area

Milton, VT | google maps link | Learn More

A view from the top of Eagle Mountain, overlooking Lake Champlain

The view from the Hoyt Lookout is a must-see. Image: Lake Champlain Land Trust

Eagle mountain is lovely in all four seasons, but especially in the fall. Even though it’s a short hike to the view point, there are many trails that split off, ready to explore in the Eagle Mountain Natural Area. It’s also a great spot to practice tree identification – if you can recognize four of the trees there, then you’re on your way to memorizing many more. We recommend starting with the Sugar Maple, White Birch, Eastern Hemlock, and White Pine. Our favorite book is A Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Trees of the Northeast, by Mark Mikolas. Once you study its well-detailed photos at home, test your memory one tree at a time in the woods.

H. Laurence Achilles Natural Area at Shelburne Pond

Shelburne, VT | google maps link | Learn More

This is one of the coolest places in Vermont to explore wetlands. To begin with, there are several kinds of features here – deepwater marsh, dwarf shrub bog, and the pond itself, rich in limestone. Exploring here is a great opportunity to learn about invasives, in this case buckthorn. The Nature Conservancy and University of Vermont have both planted native shrubs, dogwoods, willows and alders nearby, creating a riparian buffer zone on the edge of the pond. This will ideally phase out those invasives, and will definitely improve ecosystem health around the pond.

Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

Ripton, VT | google maps link | Learn More

3 side by side photos of the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail from right to left: A view of the trail heading deeper into the forest; a picture of wildflowers near a footbridge; A blue-blazed tree on the trail

Have you ever visited a place four times in one year? Maybe it’s a small circuit like this, unassuming, where you can blow through in only 20 minutes. This might be the perfect little place for the kids to come back to year-round. If you check it out in the fall, you’ll be treated to some amazing foliage, and later you can come back and snowshoe in the winter. Placards with poetry from Robert Frost are in the woods and the fields, so you can see comparisons to nature as Frost intended.

Dogs are welcome provided they are on a leash. We are sure they will love it too. A 0.9 Mile loop, this little spot might help kids fall in love with nature in Vermont, the poetry only further adding to sense of place.

LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area

Shelburne, VT | google maps link | Learn More

We recommend checking out the LaPlatte River Marsh Trail. Maybe this is a little buggy in the spring, but during the fall the foliage will be bursting. They ask you not to bring the dogs, probably due to the unique diversity of migratory waterfowl that live there – Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Osprey, ducks and more. Kingfisher courtship is a spring affair, then later the mated birds will make depressions in steep, sandy river banks for their eggs. The Herons are adaptable birds that can be seen in marshes, swamps and ponds. Bring your binoculars because if you like birding, this might be the best natural area to investigate. It is a 1.5 mile trail.

Colchester Causeway Adventure

Colchester, VT | google maps link | Learn More

A photo looking straight down the causeway has it traverses the water

Image: Niranjan Arminius, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You may have heard of the causeway or been out on it several times. Trust us when we say the birding, fishing, biking, and sunset walks are good. Although the causeway is famous for biking, you can actually drive to the Colchester side and park near the end. This makes it completely accessible for families. It won’t take long to reach the other side of the green tunnel where the view opens up to the stunning lake beyond. From a distance you can learn about different features, like the bike ferry for instance, or the ecology of the lake. You can even identify Mount Mansfield and Camels Hump, but only if you venture far enough out to turn around and look back at them on the horizon.

Law Island Kayaking Trip

Colchester, VT | google maps link | Learn More

A photo of Law Island as viewed from the Causeway

Law Island as seen from the Causeway. Image: Lake Champlain Land Trust

If you have been to the causeway then you will have seen this island off to the left of the main hike. Or, maybe you haven’t. It could be a great idea to park the car at that parking lot we mentioned, then check out the island via kayak. Be warned – in the fall, the water levels will be pretty low. You might just discover a sand bar connecting the causeway to the island! This might be easier to accomplish when the kids are a little bigger so they can help carry the boats to the put in.

Remember to bring lunch, because there are fire pits and picnic tables on the island itself. You can even string up hammocks with views of the lake. If you are feeling
adventurous you can camp out on the island overnight, packing the kayaks with enough supplies. Just remember to stow your food or hang it out of reach of the raccoons!

Bonus hike for big kids and beginner bikers: The Intervale Center Trails

Burlington, VT | google maps link | Learn More

A trail map from the intervale center

Have you ever been to the Intervale? Volunteer as a family at their farm to feel even more connected to the local area. Teach kids about the importance of protecting our rivers as you hike along the Winooski. Even train their fine motor skills by introducing them to gravel biking at a young age on the Intervale trails. Or, maybe just walk through looking for fiddleheads. No matter what you do, the Intervale trails are lovely. There is plenty of parking depending on where you start your hike.

To recap for you – fall is beautiful, natural areas are abundant, and each of these locations are easy to come back to multiple times in a year. Even if it’s raining, even if you need snowshoes, even if bugs are out, those just add to the adventure. Kids will love investigating the many little details these places offer where often, fall colors are known to pop in the rain. Have fun, and keep exploring.


Published:October 12, 2022


Bookmark the permalink

Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Blog Categories
Knowledge Categories