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Sterling Pond Trail


Popular hike to a large pond near the top of a mountain.

Hiking Moderate

3.1 km
279 m
279 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
648 m
High Point
923 m
Sterling Pond Trail Map

Sterling Pond is one of the best moderate hikes at Smugglers Notch, and as such, it sees a lot of traffic. It’s a must-do if you are passing through the area in the summer, or if you spend some time at Stowe and want to check off the classic hikes. It’s best on a warm day when you can enjoy the mountain air and dip your feet in the water, or in the fall when the mountains turn ablaze with color.


The hike to the pond is sustained uphill the whole way. The first third is particularly steep, with tall, stone steps making much of the trail. It’s all very well maintained, however, and the angle lessens a bit above the stairs. The scenery is dense forest, with Vermont’s many species of trees and lush understory plants on display, along with the granite rock formations and trickling streams that are so abundant in these mountains.

The pond, interestingly enough, lies at the top of the hill, in a natural depression formed by glacial action long ago. It’s a dramatic spectacle–sparkling water lined by deep green conifers–and its high elevation invites moody weather, like dense fog or rain, on nearly any day. If you like to fish, you can catch impressive trout in the cold, clear water.

For a bonus adventure, consider hiking to the top of nearby Spruce Peak. En route to the pond, where the Sterling Pond Trail joins the Long Trail, both paths share the route of a ski track. You can hike up the ski track to reach the summit. From there, you’ll get an elevated view over Smugglers Notch and across to Mount Mansfield.

Sources: http://vtstateparks.blogspot.com/2013/07/sterling-pond-hike-stowe-vt.html https://www.vtcng.com/thingstodo/outdoors/sterling-pond-hike/articlea1335e4c-af5d-5d42-a98c-9008ea8b653a.html



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between June and October


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area