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The Best Outdoor Adventures In Vermont
Vermont’s forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, and valleys offer a verdant tapestry upon which to enjoy exhilarating outdoor adventures. With some of the East’s highest peaks, deepest snows, lushest forests, and smoothest water, there’s an adventure in the Green Mountain State just waiting for you.
Vermont is home to the Taconic and Green mountains – they are some of the oldest, most distinctive mountains in America. Come winter, these mountains turn white, and skiers from around the world come here to experience first-class luxury resorts and mom-and-pop hills oozing with character.
Killington is the largest ski area in the East – it has 22 lifts offering access to 155 trails and more than 3,000 vertical feet. The resort sprawls across six interconnected peaks and has a season which regularly stretches into May. Stowe, meanwhile, is perched atop Mt. Mansfield, the state’s highest mountain. This historic area has hosted generations of skiers who come as much for the challenging steeps as for the charming village below. Okemo, with 19 lifts and 120 trails, is known for its great cruising, while Sugarbush has six distinct peaks on two mountains.
Jay Peak is famous for being the snowiest ski area in the East – more than 300 inches falls each season – while Smugglers Notch is a hit with families and Stratton has high speed lifts and challenging steeps. For something more intimate, head to Mad River Glen, which has narrow trails and limited grooming, Middlebury College Snow Bowl, Cochran’s – a non-profit famous for its racing program – or Suicide Six, which was one of America’s earliest ski resorts.
Prefer some kick and glide? Vermont has some great cross-country ski areas. You will find over 30 miles of trails and homemade lunches at Blueberry Hill Inn’s Outdoor Center, and 37 miles of trails and snowmaking at The Mountain Top Inn and Resort. Bolton Valley has days’ worth of cross country trails to explore as well as guided snowshoe tours. The Woodstock Inn has welcomed winter sports enthusiasts since 1910, and there are groomed trails, snowshoe trails, and ungroomed terrain to explore.
The state’s mountains turn green come summer, and then you’ll find the state has some of the best mountain biking in the nation. You are never more than a few miles from a trail – the hardest part will be picking one!
Mount Snow opens its ski trails to biking in the summer, and a lift gives access to thrilling downhill-oriented trails. Brattleboro has great mellow biking right in town and Rutland has a fantastic trail system geared towards intermediates. Killington is another ski area which opens its trails to bikers, while in Pittsfield you’ll find wide mellow trails and heart-stopping descents which will challenge any beginner. Stowe has a wide range of trails and so does Sugarbush.
For something different hop on the 16-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, which has mellow grades and memorable scenery. Road bikers can find classic tours in the Green Mountain State. Best bets include the run from Stowe to Woodstock on great back roads, the route from Woodstock to Bethel, and the gorgeous loop from Randolph to Northfield.
Ready to get wet? The state is brimming with perfect spots for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. Toss your kayak into the Clyde River near West Charleston, slip into the smooth waters of Shadow Lake or Crystal Lake, or head for the Connecticut River to peek into New Hampshire.
Of course, we’d be remiss to skip Lake Champlain. This huge freshwater lake separates Vermont from New York and stretches into Canada. See it from the Burlington Bike Path, hop on a ferry for a relaxing cruise, sign up for a chartered trip, or simply jump in to cool off on a hot day – the best spots for swimming include North Beach, Grand Isle State Park, Sand Bar, and Knight Point.
Want to see the state at a slower pace? Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail – Vermont of has hundreds of miles of paths to explore.
The Long Trail is America’s oldest long-distance hiking trail – it follows ridgelines from Canada all the way south to Massachusetts. Mt. Mansfield is the state’s highest point and the trail up it features two miles of rewarding above-treelined ridge hiking. The Mt. Pisgah trail climbs 1,500 vertical feet and gives views of Lake Willoughby. You can see one of the state’s highest waterfalls when you visit Hamilton Falls. By many measures the state’s best hike is up Camel’s Hump, which at just over 4,000 feet is the state’s third-highest peak; those who summit are rewarded with memorable views stretching from the Adirondacks to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
If the state’s trails aren’t challenging enough you can always head for Vermont’s vertical rock. Get acquainted with the sport at an indoor gym like Petra Cliffs Climbing Center in Burlington, then head for great routes like Lower West Cliff, Wheeler Mountain near Lake Willoughby, Deer Leap Rock in Killington, and Smugglers Notch, where falcons regularly soar past climbing teams.
Vermont is the East’s top pick for outdoor adventure – grab your bike, your hiking shoes, and your skis, and come see what all the excitement is about.