6 Vermont Ski Areas to Hike in Summer and Fall
July 21, 2014
Hiking Vermont ski areas should be one of those must-do activities in the summer and fall. After all, with hundreds of miles of trails, Vermont offers plenty of hiking opportunities for novice and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Hiking Vermont ski areas is also a rewarding way to explore the outdoors and enjoy beautiful views from the summit.
Visiting Vermont soon? Make a plan for hiking Vermont ski areas this summer or fall:
Okemo in Ludlow welcomes hikers and provides several options for making it to the summit. Most of the mountain is a state park and hikers are welcome to walk any of the trails or glades. “Some are a little more hiker-friendly than others, and by late summer—when mowing trails takes place—some can get a little wild and overgrown. But that’s part of the adventure,” says Bonnie MacPherson, director of public relations at Okemo.
Hiking the Mountain Road, Okemo’s easiest top-to-bottom ski trail in the winter, is a nice option for hiking. The winding trail is actually a paved road open to cars, cyclists and walkers throughout the summer. Hikers can also cut through some nearby trails to reach the summit just off the Mountain Road.
Mad River Glen in Fayston offers hiking on its trails to the summit of General Stark Mountain. A good bet is to follow the Stark Mountain Trail, which meanders up the ski trails under the Single Chair, past a larger waterfall and toward the Sunnyside Double chairlift.
Stratton Mountain was the inspiration for The Long Trail when James P. Taylor was on the slopes of Stratton in 1909 and envisioned a trail linking the Green Mountain peaks “to make the Vermont mountains play a larger role in the life of the people.”
Off The Long Trail, hiking is also encouraged on the slopes of Stratton, which is Southern Vermont’s tallest peak. Hikers will find direct routes to the summit by way of such beloved trails as Wanderer and Upper Standard.
A fire tower at the top of the mountain, built in 1921, offers panoramic views of Somerset Reservoir, Stratton Pond, the Taconic Mountains and Berkshires. (Stratton is installing new gondola cabins by Labor Day, so you can also ride to the summit this fall to access the fire tower).
Mount Mansfield is the most popular mountain to hike in Vermont. While many hikers ascend Mount Mansfield from Underhill State Park, Vermont’s highest peak can also be hiked from the ski trails of Stowe Mountain Resort. The entire mountain area at Stowe is available to hike in the summer and fall.
Other options for hiking along the summit include driving up the Auto Toll Road or riding the Quad or Gondola (please note the FourRunner Quad scenic chair lift will operate in summer 2014 in place of the Gondola). The hike from the top of the Gondola up the Cliff Trail is extremely challenging, and the main trail along the ridgeline of Mount Mansfield is a section of The Long Trail, which is a moderately difficult route. Wear proper hiking boots and expect tough, rocky terrain.
Stowe Mountain Lodge also offers an extensive hiking program for families, guests with dogs, as well as expert/seasoned hikers and beginners.
Suicide Six is located in Pomfret and owned by the Woodstock Inn & Resort. With an elevation of 1,200 feet, this mountain gives hikers the option of taking a more leisurely route to the summit on the Easy Mile trail, or a more challenging climb up The Face, a black diamond trail.
Suicide Six is one of the smaller ski areas in Vermont, but its ski industry roots run deep. The ski area was created in 1936, when Wallace “Bunny” Bertram opened the first ski lift on Hill No. Six—a primitive rope tow and the first lift of its kind in the Eastern United States. Suicide Six’s gorgeous location in Pomfret is definitely worth a visit in summer, fall or winter.
Smugglers’ Notch welcomes hikers on their trails, which lead to The Long Trail over the peaks of Sterling and Madonna mountains. The resort offers daily, guided hikes for guests (as part of vacation packages), and visitors are also welcome to explore on their own.
The Sterling hike follows The Long Trail up to Sterling Pond and then returns to the resort via the Rumrunner and Meadowlark ski trails.
“I’d say the Sterling hike is one of my favorites,” says Karen Boushie, a spokesperson for Smugglers’ Notch. “It incorporates beautiful Sterling Pond—the highest trout pond in the state—as well as Lake Champlain views from the Sterling summit, plus a walk down Rumrunner. There’s lots of Vermont eye candy on that hike.”
What’s your favorite Vermont ski area to hike in the summer and fall?
**If You Go: Ski Vermont has additional information about summer, fall and winter activities at Vermont ski resorts.
Vermont’s Green Mountain Club offers detailed information about hiking The Long Trail.