Insider's Guide: Best Parks for Winter Activities

Time to get outside! The days are getting longer, the snow has finally arrived, and there's a bonus of no poison ivy or mosquitoes! It's the perfect time to enjoy fun activities in your nearest Vermont State Park. Best of all - they're free! Click here for more details about off-season access to the parks.

Here's advice from folks in the know:

Sledding: For daring sled riders, a large treeless hill can be found by the lower parking lot in Waterbury Center State Park. Mt. Philo State Park has a long, winding road up (and down) the mountain - it's worth the hike to sled from the top. Mt. Ascutney State Park presents a big challenge with steering on it's winding road - this one is very steep! Those that fear high speeds should take heed! Elmore State Park has a variety of hills with different steepnesses and sizes. Good for all ages.

Snowshoeing: Trails that are fun in the summer are magical in the winter. Click on these parks for trail maps to a winter wonderland hike:

Enjoy trails on a 600-acre block of non-motorized forest area in Coolidge State Park. Check out the frozen waters while hiking the Hamilton Falls Trail or the West River Trail, both in Jamaica State Park. Feel like a true mountaineerer by summitting Mt. Olga in Molly Stark State Park. Similarly, choose from a variety of trails leading to the highest peak in Vermont, Mt. Mansfield. Trails start in Underhill and Smugglers Notch State Parks.

*On clear nights with a full moon is a fun time to explore. The next three full moons are on Wednesday, January 19; Saturday, February 18; and Saturday, March 19.

Frozen lakes great for Ice Skating and Broom Hockey (use brooms as hockey sticks and a tennis ball as a puck) are in Knight Point, Lake St. Catherine, Silver Lake State Parks.

Larger frozen lakes for Ice fishing and Kitestorming are in Sand Bar, Lake Carmi, Crystal Lake, and Bomoseen State Parks. Be sure to dress warmly for these sports!

Lakes, trails, and roads can all be great for Cross Country Skiing; however, the following parks have been noted as favorites: Smugglers' Notch, Little River, Seyon Lodge, Woodford, Thetford, Jamaica State Park

Other activities: Find constellations that are only visible in the winter (there are many websites such as to help beginners), Identify animal tracks, Have a snowball fight, Make snow angels, Enjoy the how quiet it is this time of year on a forest walk, snowman building, Igloo building (the easiest place is a big snow pile that you dig out, but constructing an igloo from blocks can be done anywhere there's lots of snow)

No matter which activities you choose, have a safe and warm winter. Countdown to the beginning of the regular park season is less than five months!

**Share your favorite photos (especially ones of sledding) and spots for winter fun or tell us about your favorite cold weather activity by commenting on this blog or on our facebook page.


  1. Are campers allowed to use the Lean-to’s when winter camping? Thank you!


  2. Yes Trevor, you can use the lean-tos !

  3. Sweet! We will be there next weekend to do some snow shoeing and Ice-fishing!




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