6 Winter Outdoor Alternatives to Alpine Skiing
January 16, 2021
Getting outside in winter feels more important than ever as the outdoors can boost our mood and create mindfulness. In Vermont, skiing is often the go-to for outdoor winter activities. But there’s more to Vermont winters than skiing.
From wooded snowshoe trails to outdoor ice skating rinks, Vermont offers many options and locations for fun winter adventures.
6 Things to Do in Vermont in Winter Besides Skiing
Explore Mad River Glen on Snowshoes
At Mad River Glen, the motto is “Ski it if You Can.” The iconic mountain earned its legendary status in the ski world thanks to its challenging terrain, limited snowmaking, single chair, and a no snowboarding rule.
But you can still enjoy General Stark Mountain without skis on weekend mornings during a guided snowshoe trek with one of the ski area’s naturalists. Participants can learn about the mountain’s ecology and wildlife on a two-hour tour on relatively flat terrain. The cost is $25 per person. Snowshoe rentals available for only $5 with the program. Register at the Ski School Desk or online. Offered Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Learn more at www.madriverglen.com.
**If You Go: Mad River Glen is located on Route 17 in Fayston.
-photo courtesy of LaJoie Stables
See Vermont’s beauty on horseback during a winter trail ride at LaJoie Stables in Jeffersonville. The family business, which started 40 years ago, offers private, guided horseback riding tours through open fields and woodlands.
Soak up views of Smugglers’ Notch and Mount Mansfield on a clear day, or catch a glimpse of whitetail deer, foxes, birds, and turkeys in the fields. Rides are available by reservation only for kids and adults. Learn more at www.lajoiestables.com or call 802-644-5347 to make a reservation.
**If you go: LaJoie Stables is located at 992 Pollander Road in Jeffersonville.
Hop on a Snowmobile
Since 1967, Vermont has maintained a network of more than 5,000 miles of winter snowmobile trails. The trails are pristine, scenic, and close to town centers so you can refuel or grab a bite to eat.
Snowmobile Vermont is the oldest and largest snowmobile tour company in the state, offering tours in Mount Snow, Okemo, Killington, and Stowe. Enjoy everything from two-hour backcountry tours through the Calvin Coolidge State Forest to adventures in the Green Mountain National Forest at Mount Snow. Learn more at www.snowmobilevermont.com.
Go Ice Skating
While some indoor rinks are closed or offering limited hours this season, you can find plenty of places to go ice skating outside. Try the Ice Rink at Spruce Peak Village Center, which offers free skating from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and holidays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
In Vermont’s Upper Valley, Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, which is home to the longest skating trail in the United States, plans to offer skating later this month (weather permitting). Or try Skatium Outdoor Ice Skating Rink in Waitsfield, Seesaws Lodge in Peru, or Callahan Community Rink in Burlington.
Snowshoe, Nordic Ski or Fat Bike at an Outdoor Center
Outdoor centers in Vermont offer all the perks of outdoor recreation without the crowds. Places like Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, Trapp Outdoor Center in Stowe, Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center in Goshen, Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center, and Craftsbury Outdoor Center are ideal for Nordic skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing.
Take a Trek Through The Notch
Route 108 between Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch—also known as The Notch—is ideal for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking in winter. While The Notch is a well-traversed scenic drive in the summer and fall, a three-mile section of this gorgeous, curvy road is closed to vehicular traffic in winter, making it a perfect spot to get outside and connect with nature.
**If You Go: From Route 100 in Stowe, take Route 108 north and travel 7 miles to Stowe Mountain Resort. Parking is available just past the resort’s main parking lot.
What outdoor activities are you enjoying this winter in Vermont?