The Green Mountains of Vermont, especially during October Foliage, are iconic. They beckon outdoor adventurers and then draw many of them back year after year.
Like New Hampshire's White Mountains to the east and New York's Adirondacks to the west, Vermont's Greens are famous for brightly colored leaves, quaint small towns, rural landscapes, maple syrup and apple farms, fly fishing, covered bridges, spectacular waterfalls, skiing and beautiful but rugged trails.
Two famous backpacking trails cross the state. The Long Trail runs 272 miles from the Massachusetts border on the south to the Canadian border on the north. It was built from 1910-1930 by the Green Mountain Club, which still maintains it today. The Long Trail was the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, which extends from Maine to Georgia but has 150 miles in Vermont.
But Vermont is primarily a day hiker's state. Over a hundred major trails of five miles or less lead hikers to waterfalls, scenic overlooks, historic sites, lakes, ponds, caves, boulder fields, rock arches and other attractions. Many Vermonters and out of state visitors also hike the Long and Appalachian Trails in daylong sections, taking years or even decades to cover the entire distances. The fact that many Vermont places discourage camping because of hostile weather or fragile environments has made day hiking more popular.
With cold water and shallow bubbling gravel bottom streams, Vermont is a fly fishing Paradise. In fact, much of fly fishing first evolved in Vermont before spreading to the rest of the nation.
Skiing, of course, is a long time Vermont passion, with several of the nation's most famous resorts here : Killington, Okemo, Stowe, Smugglers Notch and Sugarbush. Stowe is considered the ski capitol of New England, with its great Mt. Mansfield runs, but the biggest resort east of the rockies is Killington.
Mt. Mansfield towers over Vermont. It's a beautiful mountain, with a fragile landscape on top and trails, a toll road and a cable car providing access. Two trail huts offer shelter from the often intense wind and cold. Search and rescue squads are called to retrieve hikers at least once a week. Many of them have to be hospitalized and every year some die. Mt. Mansfield has fearsome weather, not quite as ferocious as New Hampshire's Mt. Washington but way too windy for tents or any kind of camping. From the top you can see five states plus Quebec, and you can see the mountain from everywhere in Vermont.
There's plenty of wildlife in Vermont. You're almost certain to see Beaver, Deer, Bear and various birds of prey, and are very likely to see Moose, Red and Grey Fox.
The usual strategy in Vermont is to hike on the sunny days and check out the historical and cultural sites on hostile weather days.
During late September and all of October Vermont and the Green Mountains will be crowded. This includes trails. Parking near trailheads will be difficult, especially for any trail leading to water falls. There's a whole population of water fall lovers out there who travel everywhere just to see and photograph waterfalls. Tour buses bring travelers 50 at a time and unload them at easy trails, where they'll clog the paths for the first 1-2 miles. Fortunately, the bus people don't usually hike out beyond two miles.
Expect to see backpacks lined up outside restaurants, gear stores and groceries in any town with trails passing close by, which is most Vermont towns.
Vermont also has 1400 miles of mountain biking trails, and many sources rank it the sport's #1 state. Ski resorts during the offseason run their lifts for mountain bikers.