Reports vary on which trails are the best. Everyone has a favorite, but the overwhelming consensus is that Vermont is a powerhouse of powder when it comes to cross-country skiing. With over 40 skiing centers and more miles of groomed and backcountry trails than you can shake a stick at, you can’t beat the winter wonderland views, rolling hills, bucolic forests, and pastoral fields of the Vermont landscape. So, grab your mittens and boots as we start in the north and glide down the Green Mountain State through 10 of the best Vermont cross-country skiing trails just for you.
Twelve miles of groomed trails allow you to meander through the untouched northern woods on tracks meant for all ages and levels. Jay offers rentals, lessons, tours, a heated clubhouse, a restaurant, a spa, and an indoor waterpark, among other amenities. Snowshoeing and fat bikes are also acceptable means of transportation at Vermont’s northern-most Nordic center.
With 40 miles of groomed trails snaking through the pristine mixed forests and rolling hills, you could easily spend a whole day making your way through open meadows and wooded glens. And, with 2,500 acres to traverse, you will likely never travel the same trail twice. Snowshoeing and rentals are also available. Trails are usually quiet but getting to Montgomery from the East can be tricky, since Vermont Route 58 is not plowed in the winter.
At Northwoods, trail use is by donation, which makes it a bargain no matter how much of the 20 miles you use. A suggestion of $5 is greatly appreciated, however, and pays for grooming equipment and trail upkeep. Trails here include many backcountry access options, as well as snowshoeing and dogs. The lodge is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with self-service on weekends and evenings), and you can find rentals, tours, and more on these secluded and very quiet trails.
Smugglers’ offers “track-set” cross-country trails, guided snowshoe hikes, and even night tours by lantern. In addition to 20 miles of cross-country and snowshoe trails Smuggs offers some backwoods trails, but it is one of the more commercial Nordic centers in our lineup and trails can get crowded. The upshot is that you can also find skating, a zip line, an indoor water park and fun center, snowmobile tours, a pool & hot tub, massages, and much more.
Craftsbury, a sleepy, Northeast Kingdom community somewhere between Hardwick and Newport, boasts some of the best winter activities for miles: snowshoeing, orienteering, ice skating, backcountry tours, animal tracking, nature studies, yoga, and massage are all available on about 400 acres. Also, the Nordic center offers lessons and rentals and accommodates both beginners and experts.
It doesn’t get much more naturally beautiful than gliding over the rolling terrain and open pastures around Burke Mountain and Willoughby Gap. With 35 miles of trails accommodating traditional skiing, skating, snowshoeing, and fat biking, Kingdom Trails rolls through pine forest and passes historical New England barns on trails that are also used for training by the local college.
This Austrian-inspired lodge is inspired by the von Trapp Family made famous from the story “The Sound of Music” and it just happens to offer some of the most exceptional cross-country in the area. From forest to field, alpine slope to backcountry, this Nordic center offers around 62 miles of trails for beginners and experts alike. Rentals, snowshoeing, and a warm cabin serving hot cocoa in the middle of nowhere are all available on the 2,500-acre grounds, as is an Austrian tea room and brewery.
Blueberry Hill Inn offers just under 45 miles of ungroomed trails for cross country, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing experiences for a suggested donation of $10. The ski center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers soup and warm beverages as well as ski and snowshoe rentals. But you will find no groomed trails here. For that, you should head over to the nearby Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton. What you will find is one of the most bucolic and thrilling mountainside ski runs in Vermont. At around nine miles, The Romance Mountain (Halfdan Kuhnle) offers pure alpine powder so that you can feel the love.
If jaw-dropping rock chasms, deep mountain rivers, and the beautiful Vermont wilderness is your thing while skiing, then the Wilderness Trails & Vermont Fly Fishing School in Quechee is where you want to glide. Offering advice, classes, trips, and rentals, Wilderness Trails takes you through some the most beautiful backcountry in Vermont. Trails are groomed for all ages and levels, and, with a full boat of other seasonal activities, like fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking, communing with nature at Wilderness is a year-round experience you won’t soon forget.
Founded in 1922 by a local sports enthusiast the Outing Club is, perhaps, one of the oldest civic sports associations of its kind. Keeping fees affordable, about $15 per person, the BOC relies on an active volunteer base to maintain over 20 miles of fairway, field, and forest trails as well as a warming hut (lodge) presence at the trailhead. All ages and levels, including dogs, can explore southern Vermont’s backcountry on groomed and ungroomed trails overlooking the Connecticut River valley here at the BOC.