ALPINE SKIING OR SNOWBOARDINGWinter is big in Vermont. Local alpine skiing and snowboarding resorts offer terrain for every attitude and ability. State-of-the-art snowmaking practically guarantees great skiing and riding from November through April-even later at some resorts. Early winter (November to mid-December) and late winter (March through April) are well kept secrets, offering excellent skiing or riding on uncrowded slopes. Choose from three local resorts:
Killington/Pico - The largest resort comprising 7 mountain areas, 200 trails and 31 lifts.
Okemo - A family owned and operated resort whose philosophy is to place guest service and overall quality of the recreational experience as the top priority. There are five mountain areas, with 115 trails, and 18 lifts.
Suicide Six - Skiing history was made in Woodstock in 1934 when local residents rigged up a Model T Ford engine at the base of Gilbert's Hill to power America's first ski tow. Two years later, Bunny Bertram opened a commercial ski area just north of Gilbert's Hill which soon became known as Suicide Six. Today, this is the smallest local resort with 23 trails, and 2 lifts.
NORDIC SKIING OR SNOWSHOEINGVermont's Nordic centers offer the same commitment to varied terrain and conscientious grooming that characterizes the alpine resorts. Choose from three local Nordic centers:
Mountain Meadows - Ski, or snowshoe on 50 km of trails. Rentals and lessons available.
Woodstock Ski Touring Center - This Nordic Center maintains a total of 60 km of trails consisting of two separate unconnected trail systems: the groomed trails on the snow-covered golf course, and the woodland trails and century-old carriage roads on Mt. Tom.
Okemo Nordic Center - This Nordic Center features 10 km of dedicated snowshoe trails and 20km of skating lanes, with tree skiing and terrain that winds its way through meadows and hillsides.
If you prefer a wilder ski or snowshoe experience, Vermont boasts a network of backcountry trails on the The Catamount Trail that run throughout the entire state. The 300-mile Catamount Trail is North America's longest cross-country ski trail. Starting in Readsboro on the Massachusetts border, this winter-use only trail winds its way through the heart of the Green Mountains to North Troy on the Canadian border. Along the way, the trail connects eleven of Vermont's cross-country ski centers, and passes by many country inns and lodges. The Trail is accessible to skiers with a wide range of abilities and offers a variety of terrain from breath-taking mountain climbs to gently rolling fields and woodlands. Snowshoers are also welcome to use the Trail.
SNOWMOBILINGRanking among the fastest growing winter sports, Vermont offers a well-organized, well marked V.A.S.T. trail network covering more than 6,000 miles throughout the state. If you own a snowmobile and like to explore outside of your home area, October Country Inn is easily accessible (see map) by snowmobile from the V.A.S.T. trails, as well as gas, restaurants, and the Long Trail Brewery. If you don't have you own snowmobile, consider a guided tour.
Killington Snowmobile Tours offers a variety of snowmobile tours for all ages, and levels of ability. Tours feature scenic rides through the forests, as well as incredible views along the way. All tours are guided and you can choose to ride single, or double or as a passenger with a guide. Helmets and boots are provided.
CARRIAGE & SLEIGH RIDESStep back in time and experience travel before automobiles ruled the land. Experience the natural beauty of a Vermont winter on a horse-drawn carriage ride. This fun-filled adventure is welcome to children and adults. Whether you're six or sixty, you'll bring home fond memories at a pace that allows you to savor the scenic views or a starry night. Take in the scenery with a group of family and friends or a private intimate ride with your sweetheart or immediate family. The Three Brothers Farm offers a variety of carriage and sleigh rides in the Woodstock area.
ICE SKATINGAnother outdoor or indoor winter activity that's doesn't require a lot of equipment, is a lot of fun, and is a great way to get some exercise. If you have your own skates, many of Vermont's ponds and lakes provide outdoor ice skating opportunities. Nearby Okemo Ice House and Woodstock Union Arena both offer indoor skating as well as skate rentals.
For a slightly different ice skating experience, try Nordic skating. A Scandinavian-style of cross-country ice skating, the skates have longer blades that attach to special boots much like Nordic skis. Skaters take to large frozen lakes allowing them to glide across the frozen landscape in silence with long, fluent strides. Often poles are used for increased balance and upper body workout. If you're interested, Nordic Skaters offer "wild ice skating" tours that explore the spectacular winterscape of nearby Lake Morey. Skate and boot rentals are available.
ICE FISHINGIce fishing gives the angler a unique advantage during the winter season; once there is six inches or more of ice, you can easily and safely move off-shore without a boat. With many of Vermont's waters open for ice fishing season, the choices are abundant. Whether you're fishing a Lake Champlain bay, or a smaller body of water that is found off the beaten path, ice fishing is another fun way to enjoy the outdoors during the cold winter months.
Nearby Echo Lake is an ice fishing favorite. Ice fishing season starts the third Saturday in January and lasts through March 15. Interested? You'll want to be familiar with Ice fishing basics and safety.