With the first significant snowfall of 2020 finally upon us, it’s time to break out the winter gear and embrace the season in all its glory. Whether you’re visiting for the weekend, planning a trip during your kids’ February vacation, or looking to break out of your winter routine, you’ll find plenty of options this time of year. Here are 6 outdoor things to do in Vermont in winter.
Snowshoe or Cross-Country Ski at Hildene in Manchester
Hildene is a Georgian revival mansion built in 1905 by President Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s son, Robert. The 412-acre estate features beautiful gardens, historic carriage barn, house tours, a cheese-making operation, and walking trails. In the winter, 12 miles of those walking trails are open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The trails are scenic, natural, and ungroomed. Best of all, the setting is as good as it gets. Tickets $23 adults, $6 youth. Rentals for snowshoeing and skis are $15. (1055 Hildene Road, Manchester; 802-362-1564; https://hildene.org)
Dog Sledding in Windsor
Sled dogs have coexisted with humans for thousands of years in the northern regions of North America and Siberia. That bond is alive and well at a Windsor dog sledding company. Kathy Bennett and Alex MacLennan, owners of Braeburn Siberians, are the loving owners of 42 purebred Siberian huskies that make up Team Braeburn. Enjoy 30- or 90-minute excursions in the Windsor area and across the river in Claremont, N.H. Braeburn offers 30-minute tours on Sundays starting between 10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m., and 90-minute tours Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Rides $150-$370 per sled. (802-738-8337; www.braeburnsiberians.com)
Moonlight Nordic Skiing in Londonderry
Ski under the stars at one of the oldest cross-country ski centers in North America. Viking Nordic Center in Londonderry features three kilometers of night skiing and snowshoeing on trails that are illuminated by overhead lights and old railroad lanterns. Trails are open at night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays during holiday weeks and weekends. Check out the Viking Nordic Center’s Facebook page of visit their website for updates. Equipment rentals available, and night skiing tickets cost $10 per person. (615 Little Pond Road, Londonderry; 802-824-3933; www.vikingnordic.com)
Explore the Notch in Stowe and Cambridge
Route 108—also known as the Notch—is an ideal place for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, and hiking in winter. In the winter months, a three-mile section of the Notch between Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch is closed to traffic, making it a wintery paradise for outdoor recreation. (From Stowe, take Route 108 north and travel about 7 miles to Stowe Mountain Resort. Parking is available just north of the resort’s main parking lot.)
Ride a Ski Area Rope Tow
It’s been more than 85 years since the first rope tow in the United States began pulling skiers up a hill on Clinton Gilbert’s Farm in Woodstock. While gondolas and high-speed quads are ubiquitous at ski resorts, you can still find small ski areas around Vermont with rope tows to pull you to the top of the slopes. Try Northeast Slopes in East Corinth or Ascutney Outdoors in Brownsville—where full-day, adult lift tickets cost $15—to experience the roots of Vermont skiing.
Fat Biking at Kingdom Trails
Up in the Northeast Kingdom, scenic Kingdom Trails offers about 20 miles of groomed singletrack trails for winter fat biking. Fat bikes, which were introduced in Alaska several years ago, feature large tires that are generally between 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Fat bikes require lower tire pressure than regular mountain bikes, allowing the tire to float over surfaces rather than dig in. At Kingdom Trails, beginners and advanced riders can enjoy a variety of terrain—just be sure to stay on designated trails. Fatbikes can be rented at the local trailside sport shop, and with a $15 day pass you’ll be ready to roll. (2079 Darling Hill Road, Lyndonville; www.kingdomtrails.org)