Nine amazing trail runs

Fall is perhaps the best season for trail running. The air is cool and crisp, the foliage makes regular routes downright gorgeous, and there are plenty of cider donuts for a post-run snack. It’s also a great time to get out and explore other trails around the state. However, with hunting season in full swing, you need to make sure you are picking a safe area. Here are nine of our favorite fall trail runs, listed from south to north.


  1. Woodford State Park, Bennington: Woodford Trail

Location: Woodford State Park, Woodford Trail Network: 2.7 miles Terrain: Wide hiking trail. What makes it great: A short drive from Bennington, the Woodford trail encircles the Adams Reservoir. It’s an amazing loop for viewing wildlife: Because of the variety in the 398-acre state park’s landscape, you have the potential to come across otter, deer, beaver, black bear, and even moose. In addition, at 2,400 feet, Woodford has the highest elevation of any park in Vermont. What you need to know: Hiking trails are marked with blue blazes and they have a carry-in, carry-out policy.


  1. West River Trail, Brattleboro/Dummerston: Southernmost Segment

Trail Network: 18 miles Terrain: Dirt road and light gravel. What makes it great: In 2011, the southernmost section of a railway bed that once linked Brattleboro and Londonderry was completed as a rail trail and covered with a soft dirt surface that’s easy on the knees. As you run along this 5.7-mile out-and-back segment, you can see rolling Vermont hills on your right and the West River on your left. As the trail continues, it is possible to see hints of where the trail bed was cut out of the rock for the railroad built in 1879, marking its one of Vermont’s oldest transportation routes. This sheltered area is the perfect alternative to busy Route 30, providing a link between Brattleboro and Dummerston, and it offers great views of the foliage. If you’re training for a marathon, try the 16-mile northern section through Londonderry, Jamaica and Townshend, too. What you need to know: The West River Trails are free.


  1. Pine Hill Park, Rutland: Carriage Trail and Shimmer Trail

Trail Network: 16 miles. Terrain: Hard-packed single-track and double-track with lots of rocks, many banked turns, a few berms. What makes it great: Pine Hill was revitalized from a dilapidated alpine ski area into a beautiful 16-mile system of public trails that were designed for mountain biking, but have good options for runners as well. The Carriage Trail is a 10-k route that crests at an open meadow with views east to Pico. It’s the site of the October 17 Leaf Chase 10K. Don’t miss Shimmer, a one-mile trail that passes within a stone’s throw of a pond. What you need to know: Pine Hill Park is free for day-use. Maps and routes at


  1. Middlebury: Trail Around Middlebury/Jackson Trail

Trail Network: 16 miles. Terrain: Footpath, mostly dirt. What makes it great: If you’re a Vermonter, you know that running alongside cows never gets old. The Jackson Trail is a four-mile segment (out and back) of the 16-mile Trail Around Middlebury (TAM). It starts adjacent to a field usually full of bovine companions and then follows a stream bank with views of a small gorge before opening up to a meadow. It is very accessible from downtown Middlebury and is a great opportunity for an out-and-back. If you’re feeling strong, try other segments of the TAM which run through Middlebury College and around the town. What you need to know: It is free to run on these trails only with the permission of private landowners, so be respectful. Maps, and routes with marked mileage at


  1. Sleepy Hollow Ski & Bike Center, Huntington: Butternut Trail

Trail Network: 13 miles. Terrain: Single-track dirt with a few rocks and a good amount of roots. What makes it great: Home to the 2015 Queen City Marathon champion Kasie Enman, Sleepy Hollow comprises more than 13 miles of trails carved into a hill. This means you are almost always going up or down, but it keeps the route challenging. Running along Butternut, which is about three miles, is beautiful; the sun filters through the dense trees making strips of light fall in lines along the trail ahead of you. From the parking area it is about one mile to the hand-crafted Butternut Cabin, where there is a stunning view of Camel’s Hump. The cabin, which sleeps eight, costs $180 a night in the winter and $90 in the summer for those without season passes. What you need to know: Daily trail passes are $3.


  1. Catamount Outdoor Family Center, Williston: Blue Trail

Trail Network: 20 miles Terrain: Mostly dirt, a grassy field in the beginning. What makes it great: Flatter than some of the other trails at Catamount, the Blue trail starts in a grassy, open field but remains cool as the rest of the 5K is in the woods. Catamount offers tons of fun races such as the Tuesday Night Trail Running Series, Sunday Morning Sixers, and the Mammut Thursday Night Group Trail Runs. Looking for a treat after a long run? Stop at Adams Apple Orchard on Old Stage Road in Williston for a delicious apple cider slushy on the way home.

What you need to know: Day passes are $8 with season passes going for about $100.


  1. Sugar Road to the Slayton Pasture Cabin, Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe

Trail Network: 35 miles Terrain: Soft pine-covered trails and forest roads, singletrack. What makes it great: You might think of Trapp Family Lodge as a place to ski or mountain bike but trails there are perfect for running too. For a great 10K, head from Sugar Road out to the Slayton Pasture Cabin and back. You can get a good two-kilometer warm-up on Sugar Road before snaking your way up Owl’s Howl. From there, it’s two and a half kilometers to the cabin, which is open 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Refuel with snacks and water and continue your run or check out the views east to the Worcester range. What you need to know: Trail passes are a must and can be purchased at the Outdoor Center for $10.


  1. Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury: Black River Beatdown course

Trail Network: 13 miles of running trails. Terrain: Hills, swamps, meadows and forest with a variety of singletrack and doubletrack. What makes it great: With events such as Foliage Runs and the October Trails2Ales running camps, Craftsbury can be a place where the elite runners, skiers and scullers who come here to train on the trails and lake may blow by you. But come stick season, the campers go home and you can have the 400 acres of trails pretty much to yourself. If you want to test your mettle, try the tough new course used for the 2015 Black River Beatdown. In Craftsbury’s words: “You’ll start by tearing through the cedar swamps south of the Center before dropping down to the Black River and climbing right back up. With a mix of singletrack and ski trail climbs and primarily singletrack descents, this technical course will test your mettle and provide loads of fun.” What you need to know: A $25 membership gives you access to the trails year round. You can also rent a cabin at the Center starting at $99, off-season.


  1. Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, St. Albans

Length: 26.1 miles Terrain: Crushed limestone and flat to rolling terrain. What makes it great: The perfect one-way marathon route, this rail trail starts in St. Albans and winds north and east through woods and marshes. After 10 miles follows the Missisquoi River through gorgeous rolling farmland with views east to the Green Mountains. You can also start at Enosburg Falls, at the vintage red caboose near the railway station, through more dairy country to the terminus in Richford. What you need to know: Much of the trail, which is free, parallels Route 105 and other roads so you can run shorter sections. Watch out for cyclists, who also use this route.