Here in southern Vermont, fall foliage is but a memory and the trees stand bare and waiting. As the weather turns cold and brisk, the residents of Mount Snow Valley are feeding their wood stoves and waiting patiently for the winter season to begin. The Valley stretches from Readsboro, VT in the south on the border with Massachusetts, up Route 100 through Whitingham, Wilmington and Dover to Wardsboro in the north. Along the way are endless options for leisure, relaxation and outdoor adventure.
While the area is beautiful any time of year – and offers a variety of activities including hiking, fishing, antiquing, shopping and fine dining – winter is when the Valley really comes alive.
Just 2.5 hours from Boston and 4 hours from NYC, southern Vermont is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway.
Wondering what to do with all the snow that dumps down on Vermont each winter?
There are no shortage of options!
With miles of VAST trails crisscrossing their way through the Green Mountains, you can snowmobile here for hours and never see a soul. If you are lucky, you will have ample opportunity to see wildlife, however. Snowmobiles are also popular on the lakes; many local residents and tourists come to the area for one of the several ice fishing derbies that take place here each winter. Watch – or join in – as the snowmobilers weave on the thick ice between the fishing huts.
Snowshoeing is one of my personal favorites. Little gear needed and no pricey lift tickets required. At a moment’s notice, I can strap on my snowshoes and head out into the woods. While the state parks offer trails that can be trekked on snowshoe, any stretch of woods can be a delight to explore. Leave early in the morning and watch as the woods wake up.
Not to be forgotten, skiing and snowboarding are the main attractions for most visitors to the area. The largest ski resort in the area is Mount Snow, with 135 trails and 26 lifts. Mount Snow offers countless trails for discovery and can entertain families, expert skiers and local enthusiasts all winter long.
Ripchord and the North Face are both fun to explore and on weekends you can avoid the crowds by sticking to the North Face; it offers tons of expert terrain.
For the tree skiers among you, there are lots of glades to ski in between the trails on the Front Face, the Sunbrook area and off of Olympic.
Carinthia is also a great section of the mountain, worthy of dedicating some time; don’t let all those park rats intimidate you! They are all nice, as long as you don’t get in their way before a jump. The crowd over at Carinthia is usually younger, but the trails are great and well-groomed.
Many locals, second homeowners and Valley-lovers also enjoy skiing the slopes at Haystack Mountain. The private mountain is open only to members.
Cross Country Skiing
For cross country skiing, Timber Creek is your best bet in the area. They offer excellent groomed cross country trails for reasonable day rates and a great little lodge area where you can warm up afterwards with hot chocolate and a snack. They rent out skis and poles and have trails for all levels of expertise. You can snowshoe there too!
Off the beaten track
If you want to explore some other trails in the area, I would recommend the Cross Town/Valley Trails. These less-trafficked trails are great for cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing – just keep your eyes out for snowmobilers whizzing by.
You can also check out the Harriman trail. The trailhead is in Medburyville and it is part of the Vermont Catamount Trail network.
Regardless of which winter activity you choose, Southern Vermont will be fun for everyone in the family. And if you are less inclined to brave the outdoors at 0 degrees, no worries! There is still plenty to do in the area. Downtown Wilmington, and West Dover, VT offers lots of shopping and dining options as well.
This article is submitted by Rachel Olstein Kaplan
Rachel Olstein Kaplan received her BA from Vassar College in Urban Education and French and an MA in Community Leadership and Philanthropy Studies at Hebrew University. She is the Associate Director of Yahel, an educational organization that offers service learning and social action programs in Israel. Together with her husband, Rachel founded ORA Web Design in 2012 as an affordable solution for small and medium businesses. She lives in the Mount Snow Valley, Vermont with her husband.