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Travel News Vermont’s Most Scenic Drive – Route 100

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Vermont’s Most Scenic Drive – Route 100

What are the best places to find fall foliage along Vermont’s famous Route 100? Start by looking for the leaves to change in the many State and National Forests that Route 100 bypasses and bisects. It isn’t the easiest way to travel north and south in Vermont but, as author Robert Pirsig mused In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive.”

Best Places to See Fall Foliage along Vermont Route 100:

  1. Green Mountain National Forest (south)
  2. Okemo State Forest
  3. Coolidge State Forest
  4. Green Mountain National Forest (north)
  5. Camels Hump State Park
  6. CC Putnam State Forest / Mount Mansfield State Forest
  7. Long Trail State Forest
  8. Jay State Forest

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You can pace your travels along Route 100 by watching these forests roll by, particularly during the fall foliage displays or for winter skiing. Keep reading as we explore what each of these parks offer on a 217 mile trip from Massachusetts to, almost, the Canadian Border.

Vermont Route 100 by Green Mountain National Forest (South)

Route 100 starts just 2 ½ hours outside of Boston in Stamford Vermont, a quaint town of less than a thousand people. For next 75 miles, it winds in and out of the southern unit of the Green Mountain National Forest. You’ll pass by Mount Snow Ski Area, the closest big mountain to Boston. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Just a little further north, you’ll find Stratton Mountain Resort and Bromley Mountain Ski Resort. On a good day, you can complete this section in under two hours. In the fall foliage traffic or winter ski traffic, it could take much longer.

Pro Tip – Consider taking VT 8 and VT 9 to bypass Whitingham. You will save 10 miles, 20 minutes, and still have more driving in the National Forest.

Vermont Route 100 Around Okemo State Forest

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This is the shortest segment of this Route 100 guide measuring only ten miles but it holds its place for several reasons. Not least of which is the Okemo Mountain Resort. Okemo features twenty ski lifts including two high speed bubble lifts with a lift capacity of over 35,000 people per hour. No wonder Parents Magazine rated it the Top US Family Snow Resort.

If that isn’t enough, on the other side of the highway is Proctor – Piper State Forest, Hawks Mountain Wildlife Area, Little Ascutney State Wildlife Management Area, Mt Ascutney State Park, and Knapp Brook Wildlife Management Area. That’s a pretty full ten mile stretch.

Pro Tip – During the summer and fall you can take the Okemo Mountain Road to the top of Okemo Mountain for amazing views of the fall leaves.

Vermont Route 100 Passing Coolidge State Forest

After the junction with VT 103, you are in the Coolidge State Forest region. The forest’s namesake, Calvin Coolidge was born here in Plymouth on the Fourth of July, 1872. That’s not all, Vermont’s second highest peak, Mt Killington, dominates the ridgeline of the Coolidge Range. The Killington Ski Resort is dubbed the Beast of the East with the largest vertical drop in New England.

Across the way are Lake Rescue, Amherst Lake and Camp Plymouth State Park on the shores of Echo Lake. Relax and enjoy this sixty mile stretch of scenic splendor.

Pro Tip – If you need a pit stop, check out the Long Trail Brewing Company. A German inspired craft brew pub that offers a full menu.

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Vermont Route 100 Adjacent to Camel’s Hump State Park

Camel’s Hump web page says “This is an undeveloped, FREE ENTRY state park with no phone or visitor facilities”. Sounds like a place that is defined by what it doesn’t have: development, phones, facilities or fees. Perhaps this is the perfect place place to find a little solitude during the busy fall color season. This quiet might be short since the largest crossroad to vt100 marks the terminus of this segment -Interstate 89. It’s only a short hop down I-89 to Vermont’s capital, Montpelier. Although it’s a state capital, this is Vermont and the city only has a population of about 10,000.

Pro Tip – This range was originally called Camel’s Rump, so if you want to see the camel, make sure you look for the correct body part.

Vermont Route 100 CC Putnam State Forest Between Mount Mansfield State Forest

If you like rugged, you’ll love CC Putnam State Forest. It offers one of the largest contiguous parcels of land (12,855 acres) and elevation changes to almost 4000’. It’s a great change of pace for people looking to get away.

Mount Mansfield Forest is as grandiose as its namesake. Mt. Mansfield is the high point of Vermont at 4393’. In its shadows sits the Stowe Mountain Resort. The resort boasts over 100 trails spread across two mountains with plenty of food and lodging. There is also a gondola and a toll road to the top that give you plenty of opportunities to see the fall leaves change colors.

Pro Tip – I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, especially if it’s Ben and Jerry’s. Don’t miss the Ben & .Jerry’s – Factory Tour just off vt100 as it crosses I89.

Vermont Route 100 Along Long Trail State Forest

Long Trail State Forest is a narrow strip of public land that protects the Long Trail in this region. The Long Trail runs north/south through the forests on the west side of VT100 and is the Appalachian Trail as it travels through Vermont. Ithiel Falls and its iconic footbridge are the trail’s highlight through this region.

Luckily for travelers, the parking area is just minutes off the highway and the falls and bridge are only a short hike from the parking lot. It’s a great excuse to stretch your legs and take some pictures, especially as the leaves are turning. This road segment runs for about twenty miles between Hyde Park to Lowell, passing through the small town of Eden.

Pro Tip – Ithiel Falls was dynamited in 1927 to prevent flooding. It’s now a class II rapid with a gorgeous beach at the bottom.

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Vermont Route 100 Northern Terminus at Jay State Forest

East of Eden, the road reaches its bitter end. For all the fall color photo opportunity, ski mountains and forests Vermont Route 100 pass, the terminus is somewhat anti climatic. The official end is where VT100 runs into VT105 near Newport Vermont, just a few miles short of the Canadian border. It could have ended at Jay Mountain and the Jay Mountain Ski Resort or Prudy Beach on Lake Memphremagog or even the Canadian Border itself. Instead, Vermont’s most scenic road just ends. Perhaps, this is the most fitting ending of all because it ensures travel was better than the arrival.

Final Pro Tip – Let this ending inspire you to create your own stories instead of relying on predetermined routes and ideas. Perhaps you continue to Montreal or form some kind of a grand loop or press on to Maine. No matter what ending you choose, embrace it and make it yours.

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About the Author

Jenn and Ed Coleman// Coleman Concierge

We are Jenn and Ed, aka Coleman Concierge. Let us serve as your guide to help you and inspire you to get out, expand your work and seek adventure, even in your own backyard. Along with our perspective and personality, we strive to provide tools and tips for you to experience heightened adventure in your own life.