The Ultimate Guide to Stowe Outdoor Adventure

Shimmering lakes, moss-covered boulders, sweeping mountains – there’s something transporting about being in the middle of nature. And Stowe – a year-round destination for recreation and adventure – has no shortage of ways for immersion, whether it be a slope-side bike ride or a leaf-peeping trek around the lake. Here are a few of our recommendations on the best ways to experience the great outdoors.

Stowe’s diverse terrain has a suitable trek for everyone. One of the most popular hikes, particularly among families, is the route to Sterling Pond. It starts on a steady incline over tree trunks and rocks and culminates in a placid pond with views of Mt. Mansfield and Smugglers’ Notch.

For a less trodden path, head to Nebraska Notch; the trail head is located right before Lake Mansfield Trout Club. From here, follow the markers towards Taylors Lodge for encounters with beaver ponds, rocky patches, and babbling brooks. At the end, views of Nebraska Valley span as far as the eye can see.


Interspersed between waterfalls or at the base of cliffs, swimming holes seem to appear in every forested area. Among them: Brewster River Gorge. Getting there requires a short walk, which leads to a 45-feet-high cascade descending through a narrow gorge. At the base of the waterfall, there are green-tinted pools around a wide pebbled riverbank, and other pools scattered between the rocks. Lastly, the nearby Jeff Falls, right before Adam’s Camp Bridge, is nestled between a rim of boulders amidst hardwood trees.

For mountain biking, Cady Hill Forest offers a varied terrain through woodlands, meadowlands, farms, and wetlands and is easily accessible from town. Meanwhile, the Stowe-Morristown loop through Randolph Road around to Stagecoach Road is one of the most picturesque routes for cycling. Another option: a guided e-bike tour with Lamoille Valley Bike Tours on portions of the much-talked-about Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. When completed, the crushed-stone path – which now runs between Danville and St. Johnsbury, and Cambridge and Morristown – will be the longest rails-to-trails project in New England.

Stowe’s smooth-as-glass lakes and reservoirs, plus several rivers are good places for a paddle. Start with the man-made Waterbury Reservoir (access is through the Waterbury Center State Park), scattered with picnic grounds and campsites, some only accessible by boat. You can get views of otters, beavers, and loons; a dam that was built in the 1930s; and brambles and elm trees as well as Camel’s Hump, the third largest peak in Vermont.

Another gem is Lake Elmore–around a half hour from Topnotch Resort – which is surrounded by hardwood forest, including three types of maple and apple trees from former homesteads. In the distance looms Mount Mansfield, and boats can be rented at the Beach House.

On the Winooski River, north of Stowe, Vermont Canoe & Kayak offers guided and themed tours; the 9-mile Upper Gorge excursion features classified white-water rapids for more of an adrenaline rush.



Just below Smuggler’s Notch, Arbortrek Canopy Adventures guides adventurers year-round through zipline courses that weave through the forest canopies; the company also runs a treetop obstacle course with suspended bridges, rope swings, cargo nets, and balance beams designed to test and challenge your balance and agility. Meanwhile, `Stowe Mountain Resort’s Zip Tour Adventure features side-by-side ziplines up to 150 feet long for high-speed action and unobstructed views.

After you finish your hike, why not stop by Topnotch for the night, for the day, or for a meal. The Spa at Topnotch is ‘topnotch’ offering you the perfect treatment to find peace after a long hike. Or to make your hike the perfect Vermont getaway, why not spend the night and book one of our fabulous rooms today!

Blog Written by Lisa Cheng

First Image by Meagan Emilia