Backpacking in Vermont: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in Vermont: Two backpackers and a dog enjoying a trail view

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Vermont offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the magnificent natural beauty of the “Green Mountain State.”

From the rugged peaks of the Green Mountains to the tranquil valleys dotted with picturesque towns, Vermont beckons adventurers to explore its diverse landscapes.

And this is what this post is about – we’ll share essential tips and the top 5 multi-day trails in Vermont, catering to both seasoned backpackers and those eager to embark on their next wilderness adventure.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Vermont

  • What to expect: Be prepared for steep, rocky trails, changeable weather including sudden storms, remote isolation on longer trails, primitive campsites and lean-tos at designated areas, as well as spectacular scenery.
  • Essential gear: Key backpacking gear for Vermont includes bear canisters required in some areas to protect food, water filters to draw from backcountry sources, quality rain gear for frequent storms, and warm layers for fluctuating temperatures.
  • Wildlife: Vermont’s backcountry hosts wildlife risks, including black bears, coyotes, and moose. Bears are attracted to food smells, coyotes pose a small risk, and moose can be aggressive during mating season. Stay alert, give moose space, and be cautious to minimize potential wildlife encounters.
  • Wild camping: Dispersed backcountry camping is restricted in Vermont, with options limited mainly to designated sites along the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail corridors in the Green Mountain National Forest. Permits are required and camping duration is capped at 1-2 nights before breaking camp. Some state forests allow primitive camping in specified areas. Compared to western public lands, Vermont has tighter regulations.
  • Best times to go are late spring (May-June) for pleasant weather, fewer bugs, and lighter crowds; early fall (September-October) for cooler temperatures, fall foliage, and fewer people post-Labor Day. Summer has long days but may have lightning storms and bugs. Late fall in November offers open vistas but requires cold weather prep amid limited windows between winter storms.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in Vermont

Discover the most stunning long trails in Vermont for amazing adventures:

1. The Long Trail

A landscape image of Mount Mansfield's brilliant fall foliage in Stowe, Vermont, with orange, red, and yellow trees covering rolling green hills under a bright blue sky

Length: 245.6 mi / 395.3 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 65 370 ft / 19 925 m
Location: Green Mountain National Forest
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 32 300 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The Long Trail is an epic 245.6-mile hiking trail through the Green Mountains of Vermont, running from Massachusetts to Canada. This historic trail winds through remote ponds, rocky peaks, lush forests, and offers breathtaking vistas. Backpackers can stay at shelters along the way or camp at scenic spots like Bully Brook. Conquering the entire challenging Long Trail is considered a classic Vermont adventure with its diverse and beautiful terrain.

2. Smugglers Notch and Sterling Mountain

A panoramic summit view of the green mountains in Vermont from Mount Mansfield, with dense coniferous forests blanketing the rolling peaks and valleys below a bright blue sky

Length: 26.7 mi / 43 km
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 8372 ft / 2552 m
Location: Mount Mansfield State Forest
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3640 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The extremely challenging 26.7-mile out-and-back Smugglers’ Notch section of Vermont’s Long Trail winds along steep, rocky ridges through alpine meadows, over streams, and features the dramatic Notch rock formation, requiring backpackers to be prepared for rugged terrain and quickly changing weather as they experience this epic hiking adventure with incredible views.

3. The Long Trail: VT 125 to US 4

A scenic view looking south over the rolling hills of the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont during a brilliant fall foliage season, with orange, red, and yellow trees covering the landscape as far as the eye can see

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Length: 28.7 mi / 46.2 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 5866 ft / 1788 m
Location: Green Mountain National Forest
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3600 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The 28.7-mile Middlebury Gap to Route 4 section of Vermont’s Long Trail is a challenging point-to-point route. Starting from meadows at Middlebury Gap, it climbs to the heights of Brandon Gap, passing cliffs with panoramic views. The trail traverses the ridgeline of the Green Mountains, with backcountry shelters along the way. From wooded valleys to alpine vistas, this stretch allows hikers to experience the beauty and solitude.

4. Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

A sweeping landscape view of a vibrant green grass field bordering a calm blue pond reflecting the trees and blue sky, with hills rolling into the distance showcasing the fall foliage colors of Vermont

Length: 95.5 mi / 153.7 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 3211 ft / 979 m
Location: Swanton
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 13 300 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is a 95.5-mile easy point-to-point trail near Swanton, Vermont perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. This flat, scenic trail follows the path of a former railroad, connecting Swanton on Lake Champlain to St. Johnsbury. Passing through tunnels and alongside the Lamoille River, it offers beautiful views of mountains, countryside, and small towns. Its length and relatively gentle terrain make it a great trail.

5. The Long Trail (Division 11)

A scenic vista of lush green forested hills rolling into the distance in Vermont, as seen from an elevated vantage point of Prospect Rock overlooking Ithiel Falls

Photo by Scott McCracken, flickr via CC BY 2.0

Length: 25.9 mi / 41.7 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 7808 ft / 2380 m
Location: Northern Vermont
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 3500 calories
More Details: See on Hiking Project

This 26 mile point-to-point portion of the Long Trail in Vermont traverses over hills and across rivers, climbing from the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail up to Laraway Mountain. It passes Prospect Rock and the scenic Roundtop Shelter before reaching Devil’s Gulch, a narrow rock canyon. After a steep climb to the fire tower on Belvidere Mountain, the trail ends at Tillotson Camp, offering outstanding vistas and diverse terrain along the way.

Annual Weather Averages

Weather conditions can vary widely depending on the time of year and the specific region within Vermont. Here’s a general overview:

  • Spring (March-May): Unpredictable with possible snow in March-April, becoming milder in May (50°F to 70°F or 10°C to 21°C).
  • Summer (June-August): Popular due to warm temperatures (70°F to 85°F or 21°C to 29°C), longer daylight hours, occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Fall (September-November): Best time with vibrant foliage. September is mild (50°F to 70°F or 10°C to 21°C), October peak foliage, November cooler.
  • Winter (December-February): Cold and snowy, less common for backpacking. Daytime temperatures (20°F to 40°F or -6°C to 4°C), significant snowfall in mountainous areas.

Before making your gear selection, take a look at the weather statistics for Vermont (Montpelier):

High °F273039546674787668564332
Low °F111322354554595749392918
Rain/Snow (D*)76891112131110988
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if Vermont is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Vermont? 

When backpacking in Vermont, campfires are strict. No fires above 2,500 feet, and only in established rings below that. Get a permit first. Only use dead wood. Cook with portable stoves, not fires. Be cautious, as fires might attract bears.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Vermont?

When you backpack in Vermont, get ready for changing mountain weather, remote areas, wildlife, and tough trails. Bring maps, a compass, and GPS to navigate primitive and uneven paths. Pack extra layers, food, and a headlamp. Always hike with a buddy and let someone know your plans. Look out for signs of bears, moose, and deer. Avoid hiking during hunting seasons. Use a water filter to avoid giardia in streams. Be careful around steep edges and avalanche-prone slopes. Check the forecast, and head back if storms are coming. Know your limits on challenging high elevation hikes.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Vermont?

Be careful if you run into animals while backpacking in Vermont. Make some noise to avoid surprising bears or moose. Keep your distance and don’t try to get too close. Look for signs like tracks to avoid active areas. Know how to use bear spray just in case. For bears, make yourself look big, back away slowly, and speak firmly. If a moose charges, run behind a tree. Leave beavers, porcupines, and other small critters alone. Never feed wild animals. Tell rangers about any tricky encounters. Hike in groups, keep your food securely stored, and be extra careful at dawn and dusk when animals are active.

How to pack for a backpacking trip in Vermont?

When preparing to explore the beautiful Vermont backcountry, backpackers should pack essential camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, cookware, and plenty of layers to handle the variable weather. Don’t forget trail snacks, a first aid kit, compass, and rain gear. Check the latest conditions and pack accordingly. Arrive at the trailhead equipped with a sturdy backpack loaded with everything you need to fully experience the natural wonders along the trail during your outdoor adventure.

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Why you should trust us

At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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