Editor’s note: This tour was originally published in 2018. It has been updated on Oct. 2, 2020 to reflect the many changes in business hours and operations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Correspondent Clover Whitham reported and wrote the original version of this tour.
Central Vermont is a superb place for a day trip to view Vermont’s colorful autumn leaves. It helps that there is a multitude of attractions and eateries along the way.
Here is a suggested leaf-peeping tour suitable for everyone from senior citizens to families to someone seeking a day of peace and relative solitude.
Feel free to take any detours to lengthen or shorten this three-hour loop. Any turn you make is sure to be picturesque.
Central Vermont foliage tour: Driving directions
These directions take you on a 130-mile loop trip starting in Woodstock and taking you through Northfield Falls and Killington.
Visit idyllic Woodstock: The journey starts in Woodstock, the kind of town people envision when they think of an idyllic Vermont town with its colonial architecture surrounding a central green (River Street, Woodstock). There are boutiques, galleries and art shops, a toy store and an 80-year-old bookstore. Just outside of downtown, you’ll find several working farms and cheesemakers that offer tours (and samples!).
Check out these covered bridges: There are plenty of attractions to keep you busy all day here, or add in the stunning destinations in the nearby gorge and town of Quechee and you’ve got a full weekend.
But let’s hit the road. There are three covered bridges nearby: the Lincoln Covered Bridge on U.S. 4 near the Lincoln Inn and Restaurant in West Woodstock; Middle Bridge on Mountain Avenue near the intersection with North Park Street in Woodstock; and the Taftsville bridge near the intersection of Vermont 12 south and U.S. 4.
To see foliage from a country highway, head north on Vermont 12. In Northfield you’ll find five public covered bridges, three in close proximity on Cox Brook Road.
The Vermont 100 mountain trek: Follow Cox Brook Road, which turns into Moretown Mountain Road, to Moretown where you’ll hop on Vermont’s famed Vermont 100 and head south through the mountain towns of Waitsfield and Warren.
Vermont 100 runs along the eastern edge of the Green Mountain Forest. As you drive through the picturesque towns at the foothills of the mountains, you’ll see why it’s an official scenic byway.
The wonders of Killington: If you’re out looking at colorful Vermont leaves, it’s highly unlikely skiers will have descended upon Killington Ski Resort (right?). Nonetheless, Killington in early-to-mid autumn presents an eyeful of spectacular views and plenty of things to do while you’re taking it all in.
Back to where you started: When you’re through with Killington’s attractions, take U.S. 4 east back to Woodstock.
For the adventurous: In Northfield, take 12A to Roxbury where you’ll find Warren Mountain Road, which turns into Roxbury Mountain Road, otherwise known as the Roxbury Gap.
This is a mountainous, partially dirt road that promises excellent vistas and more than a little exciting driving.
Side trip: When you are in Northfield, continue north on Vermont 12 to Montpelier. Amid the pandemic, the Statehouse is closed to the public; however, nearby attractions like the Vermont History Museum are open (as long as visitors wear masks and are socially distanced). And though this is America’s smallest state capital, the city has many restaurants, shops and recreation trails.
Smart stopping points
Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park: This is one of Vermont’s most historic mansions, situated in what is Vermont’s only National Historic Park. Due to concerns over COVID-19, tours of the mansion, as well as the visitor center and on-site exhibits, are temporarily closed. Visitors are still allowed to roam the park grounds and trails. 54 Elm Street, Woodstock.
Northfield’s covered bridges: Four of the five public bridges are in Northfield Falls. The Slaughter House Bridge (Slaughter House Road) is off of Vermont 12. Just north of there is Cox Brook Road, where three bridges stand. Southwest of Northfield Center, east of Vermont 12A on Stony Brook Road is the Stony Brook Covered Bridge, also known as Moseley Covered Bridge.
Mangalista: Woodstock has a surprising number of restaurants, you probably can’t go wrong in a town that lives the farm-to-table mantra. Mangalista, a high-end reservation-only restaurant, gets a coveted 5 stars on Yelp and TripAdvisor. One reviewer last month said, “A trip to Woodstock wouldn’t be complete without a meal here.” The restaurant is still closed to in-person dining, but guests are still welcome to order of their take-out menu. 61 Central St., Woodstock.
Worthy Kitchen: For more casual fare, head to Worthy Kitchen, brought to you by the crew behind the famed Worthy Burger in South Royalton. You’ll find burgers here, too, as well as fried chicken and a version of mac and cheese made with roasted garlic cream and aged Plymouth cheddar. Plus plenty of craft beer. The restaurant is open for dine-in, take-out, or even a picnic if one chooses. 442 Woodstock Road, Woodstock.
Falls General Store: Online reviewers rave about the thin crust pizza, sandwiches and “out of this world” pastries at the Falls General Store. The store is currently running on limited hours and offerings. Visitors are welcome to check on their Facebook page daily to see what they can come in. 7 Cox Brook Road, Northfield Falls.
American Flatbread Waitsfield Hearth: This is the original American Flatbread that grew to include the popular Burlington and Middlebury restaurants and a frozen pizza line. Takeout during the pandemic is served from 4 p.m. to close, with customers asked to call early to place their orders; While you wait, you can enjoy the scenery of the Lareau Farm on which the restaurant sits. 46 Lareau Road, Waitsfield, 802-496-7825.
Canteen Creemee Company: The ice cream at Canteen Creemee Company is truly epic. Just look at its Instagram page for proof. A sundae will certainly fill you up, but if you’re going to be good and not go straight to dessert there’s also some excellent fried chicken and kimchee grilled cheese. 5121 Main St. Waitsfield.
Long Trail Brewing Co.: At Long Trail Brewing Co., you can of course sample the beers, but you can also grab lunch or dinner to go from the brewery’s restaurant, all of which is available via take-out. 5520 U.S. 4, Bridgewater Corners.
For the kids
Billings Farm and Museum: Visit the livestock, sample cheese and learn some new things at museum. The majority of the farm and museum is open to the public, although the dairy and horse barn are temporarily closed. 69 Old River Road, Woodstock.
Hike Mount Tom: An easy hike, about 2.75 miles, starting at Faulkner Park on Mountain Road, Woodstock.
Red Wagon Toy Co.: This toy store is located at 41 Center St., Woodstock.
Best Instagram spots
Taftsville covered bridge: It’s located near the junction Vermont 12 south and U.S. 4., Woodstock
Moss Glen Falls: A waterfall along Vermont 100 in Granville.
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Vermont fall foliage: Take this leaf-peeping tour through Central Vermont