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Take an Easy Walk on the Robert Frost Trail in Ripton, VT

Did you know that Robert Frost taught at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton for 42 years? Every summer and fall between 1939 and 1963, he lived and wrote in a small cabin on what was then called the Homer Noble Farm.

The Robert Frost Trail in Ripton, Vermont.
The Robert Frost Trail in Ripton, VT

The Ripton property is a National Historic Landmark owned by Middlebury College. It’s open to the public during daylight hours, and while you can see the cabin where Frost lived and wrote, the inside of the cabin is off-limits.

For a glimpse of the beautiful landscape that inspired Robert Frost, head to the nearby Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in the Green Mountain National Forest. Here, you can meander along an easy, universally accessible path, where you’ll find many of his poems mounted on posts along the trail.

Robert Frost's summer cabin in Ripton, Vermont.
Robert Frost’s former cabin in Ripton. Photo credit

The Robert Frost Trail was dedicated on August 28, 1976. A few years later, the town of Ripton was dedicated as “Robert Frost Country.”

This beautiful trail, and the poems posted alongside it, pay tribute to Robert Frost and his poems that memorialize the pastoral Vermont that we all know and love.

Quick Trail Details

Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: Easy. The path is universally accessible
Estimated time: 30 minutes
Elevation Range: 1,299 ft. -1,316 ft
Elevation Change: 17 feet
Dogs: Yes, on-leash
Cost: Free
Maps: USGS Middlebury; Green Mountain National Forest
Directions to Trailhead (Google Maps)

Directions to the Robert Frost Trailhead

From the junction of US 7 and VT 125 just south of Middlebury, head east on VT 125 for 6.2 miles. The trailhead parking area (space for about 10 cars) is on the right. GPS coordinates: 43° 57.48′ N, 73° 00.67′ W. 

Walking the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

A bench along the Robert Frost Trail beckons visitors to stay and enjoy the view.
A bench along the Robert Frost Trail beckons visitors to stay and enjoy the view

The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail was recently redone to make the whole mile-long trail universally accessible. It now features two connected loops that wander through the varied landscapes that inspired Robert Frost.

There are several benches along the route, encouraging you to linger within the landscape, read the poems, and reflect on the beauty of Vermont’s wilderness. Picnic tables near the parking area encourage you to stay awhile, listen to the birds, and enjoy a snack before continuing on your journey.

The trail also connects to the nearby Water Tower Trails, which are a series of cross-country ski loops for winter adventures. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be kept on a leash.

A footbridge over the South Branch of the Middlebury River on the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.
A footbridge over the South Branch of the Middlebury River.

From the trailhead, which contains a small informational kiosk and a vault toilet, go right into the trees along a wide gravel path. The path quickly becomes an elevated boardwalk, crossing a small wetland. Alder trees love moisture and add color to the winter landscape with their clusters of red berries. The wetland is also a haven for warblers, red-wing blackbirds, and ducks.

The Robert Frost Trail includes a  universally accessible boardwalk.
The Robert Frost Trail includes a universally accessible boardwalk.

Turn right to cross a footbridge over the South Branch of the Middlebury River. While the trail doesn’t lead directly down to the river, it’s not too difficult to climb down the bank to the water. It’s shallow enough for kids and dogs to play in on a hot day.

At the end of the footbridge, the trail enters a dark hemlock grove as the trail curves left. The trail rises gently and passes a bench and a small clearing, where one of Frost’s most famous works, “The Road Not Taken,” is posted.

The poem, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

A spur trail to the right leads into the woods and connects to the Water Tower Trails. Feel free to take this trail, which is not accessible to wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Instead, continue straight on the gravel pathway lined with young birch trees.

In the spring, wildflowers spread a carpet beneath the trees — trout lily, trillium, and Dutchman’s breeches. Before long, the young woods start to thin out and several tall white pines mark the edge of the forest and the beginning of the meadow. You are now at the eastern edge of the field and the beginning of the second loop. 

Follow the path to the right, skirting the meadow. The US Forest Service maintains this area through prescribed burns. Blueberries and huckleberries are plentiful in August, attracting wildlife and humans who come to enjoy the fruitful bounty.

A bench next to a tall white pine tree provides a resting spot to take in northern views of the slope of Breadloaf Mountain (3,835 feet) and the surrounding Breadloaf Wilderness. This is the largest wilderness area in Vermont, protecting nearly 25,000 acres.

The poem, "The Last Mowing" by Robert Frost.

Head downhill through the field, arriving back at the beginning of the loop. Go right, retracing your steps to the shorter hiking loop on the other side of the river. Bypass this loop and follow the signs back to the parking area.  

Insider tip: Vermont is notorious for its spotty cell service and GPS isn’t always reliable. We recommend purchasing a copy of the Delorme New Hampshire/Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer. This awesome atlas includes every road and trail in Vermont and is indispensable for exploring Vermont’s back roads and best-kept secrets!

Check out the web story for the Robert Frost Trail in Ripton next!

Exploring Robert Frost’s Place in Vermont

On January 20, 1961, Robert Frost became the unofficial first Poet Laureate of The United States. He was named Poet Laureate of Vermont in July of the same year.

After visiting the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, drive a short distance west on VT 125 to the Robert Frost Wayside. From the picnic area, you can walk to the cabin where Frost spent much of his time writing.

A sculpture of Robert Frost at the Stone House Museum.
A sculpture of Robert Frost at the Stone House Museum

Drive south a couple of hours to Shaftsbury Vermont, where you can visit the Robert Frost Stone House Museum. This is where Frost lived with his wife, Elinor from 1920 to 1929. The Stone House is owned by Bennington College and houses a small museum with walking trails.

Robert Frost is buried behind the Old First Church in Bennington. You can visit his grave, as well as several remarkable old gravestones dating back to the Revolutionary War. Read more about the best things to do in Bennington while you’re in the area.

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Views from the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton, Vermont.

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.