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Hiking to Lye Brook Falls in Manchester, Vermont

Looking for a fun hike to one of Southern Vermont’s most lovely waterfalls?

The hike to Lye Brook Falls in Manchester, Vermont is a moderate 4.6-mile woodland walk that is kid and dog-friendly.

Lye Brook Falls Trail is perfect for summer because it’s shaded the whole time. It’s one of our favorite hikes to bring guests visiting us in Bennington, which is about a half-hour from the trailhead.

Here’s an overview of this beautiful trail in the expansive Green Mountain National Forest.

The Main Attraction: Lye Brook Falls

Lye Brook Falls in Manchester, Vermont
Lye Brook Falls in the spring

Lye Brook Falls look different every time we visit and the flow of water is highly dependent on the time of year and local precipitation, but even during very dry summers, you will see some sort of waterfall, and it is always beautiful.

At 125 feet tall, this is the closest big waterfall to our home in Bennington, Vermont. The falls are made up of several tiers of cascades and horsetails. Unfortunately, Lye Brook Falls is not a swimming hole, as the pool below the falls is quite shallow.

Also Read: The 9 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in Vermont

Lye Brook Falls: Quick Trail Details

Length: 4.6 miles round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Range: 706 ft. -1640 ft
Elevation Change: 934 ft
Dogs: Yes
Cost: Free
Directions to Trailhead

Because the Lye Brook Falls hike is quite popular, I recommend hiking early in the morning and during the week if possible.

The hike is very dog-friendly, and yes, we have seen plenty of dogs off-leash here. Our own dogs are usually leashed as one of them has poor listening skills.

If you do bring your dogs, please be sure to follow Leave No Trace Principals and clean up after them, as dog waste has become a huge problem on popular trails in Vermont.

Hiking to Lye Brook Falls

Lye Brook Falls trail in Manchester, Vermont
Trailhead signage – Lye Brook Falls

Park your car in the large, shaded parking area at the end of the Lye Brook Falls Service Road and follow the blue blazes.

The trail starts very wide and flat, traveling through tall grass and blackberry bushes before quickly turning into the woods. Here at the beginning of the trail, you are as close to the stream as you will be until you get to the falls.

Lye Brook Falls trail in Manchester, Vermont
Lye Brook Falls Trail

Lye Brook Trail travels through a mixed hardwood forest on a wide path that becomes increasingly rocky.

You will need to keep your eyes on the ground to avoid rolling an ankle, and if you’re hiking in June, you might as well watch out for red efts – immature newts that will be making their way across the trail to find water.

A red eft on the Lye Brook Falls trail in Manchester, Vermont
A red eft on the trail to Lye Brook Falls.

You will rock hop across several small, muddy streams before the trail starts a steady climb through several cool and shady stands of hemlock.

At 1.8 miles the trail forks. Follow the right fork and the sign pointing to the falls. At this point, the trail levels out and becomes a bit more narrow, hugging the side of a hill.

You will pass several rock faces on your left with running water coming down the mountain, making this part of the trail pretty muddy.

The trail will descend briefly as you near the falls. When you get there, you can follow the trail up and to the left for the best view of Lye Brook Falls. If you continue straight and to the right, you will pop out on a big rock at the base of the falls – a lovely spot for a picnic, but the surrounding trees block most of the upper falls from view.

If you have a rambunctious puppy with you, there is a pool for playing in. Not big enough or deep enough for humans, but water-loving dogs will be quite happy.

If there are a lot of people congregating to view the falls, you will find that it feels quite crowded here, but if you’re visiting early in the day, you will have plenty of room to relax with a snack and snap a few photos before turning around and heading back the way you came.

Lye Brook Falls Trail Map and Elevation Profile

The following map is courtesy of AllTrails, my favorite app for finding new trails when I travel. The free version is perfectly fine for most hikes, but AllTrails+ (currently $35.99 a year) allows hikers to download maps for offline use, which means you can be out of range for cell service, but still use the map features.

Need a Lye Brook Falls trail map you can download? Here ya go! We’d also recommend investing in the waterproof (and totally awesome) Green Mountain National Forest trail maps from National Geographic.

Tips for Enjoying Your Hike to Lye Brook Falls

A black lab puppy stands in front of Lye Brook Falls
Malinda enjoyed the Lye Brook Falls trail

The Lye Brook Falls Trail is located in the 15,680-acre Lye Brook Wilderness, which is part of the Green Mountain National Forest. Because this is a designated wilderness area, signage is minimal and there are no facilities or trash cans. You have to carry out what you carry in.

At the turn of the last century, this area was teeming with industry, including heavy logging, railroads, charcoal kilns, and sawmills. Although the land has slowly become wild once again, if you travel off the path, you can still find remains of these industries.

Wear insect repellent on this hike! Because this is a mostly wooded trail, there are plenty of mosquitoes. We don’t usually see ticks up here, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t around. Our absolute favorite bug spray is Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent, which is incredibly long-lasting and as effective as DEET. We carry the 3-ounce bottle in our daypack.

We included the Lye Brook Falls hike in our post about Vermont’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls. If you love waterfall chasing as much as I do, you may want to check out that post next!

Want to read more about incredible Vermont adventures for your next vacation? Check out these posts:

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Tara Schatz is a freelance writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Vermont Explored and Back Road Ramblers, an American road trip blog. She is also the co-author of the 3rd edition of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont, released in May 2023, and the author of 100+ Wonderful Ways to Experience Vermont.


Friday 1st of July 2022

I wanted to mention that this hike is really good, so I'm glad to see the favorable article. But I think referring to to the trail as "family friendly" is fairly misleading. That and the third picture in the article might lead you to believe that this is a park-like walk to the Falls and that just isn't so. I've seen a couple of other articles say the same thing and (perhaps as a result) we saw a couple of families with young children out on the trail that were clearly not having a good time. This trail is moderately challenging on the way up. My teenage daughters and I had to stop to catch our breath numerous times on the one hour push up to the Falls. And the boulders, roots, mud and logs that cover much of the trail made me very happy to have solid hiking boots on. So, if you are a family on vacation wanting to get out on a scenic trail with your street clothes, running shoes, crocs, etc. I'd say check out the Equinox Pond trails behind the Equinox resort.


Friday 19th of November 2021

I'm not sure I understand this. In the Quick Trail Details box, it says "dogs, yes on leash." Yet you say there are plenty of dogs off-leash. Is it allowed for dogs to be off-leash?

Tara Schatz

Friday 19th of November 2021

So sorry for the confusion, Jeff! Dogs are allowed off-leash. The on-leash recommendation is a mistake and I'm changing it now. Thanks for catching that!

Jason Lewis

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Hi, it was nice to come across this post about Lye Brook Falls. I grew up going to southern Vermont to ski and vacation and Lye Brook was a go to hike. Some time in the past 10 years or so there was a big storm that completely changed the terrain of the falls. It looked like the steepest parts got leveled and it opened up more. It's been a number of years since I've been there but I was shocked when I saw the changes and it wasn't the falls I remembered when I was young. Do you have any information about what happened?

Tara Schatz

Tuesday 19th of October 2021

Hi Jason -

That was all because of the remnants of Hurricane Irene - August 28, 2011. I remember hiking out to Lye Brook that September and was amazed at the difference!