Get Busy in Winter Series: (Cross-Country) Ski the East

If you live in Vermont, chances are good that you have an appreciation for all four seasons. This includes snow (it’s a seasonal variation on Stockholm Syndrome.) In honor of winter, we present an ongoing series highlighting the many ways to get out & active on state parks and lands. 

First up: Cross-Country Skiing. Love to ski? Not a fan of lift tickets every weekend? Funnily enough, we feel the same way. Lucky for us, we live in a state with many accessible (and free!) options for cross country skiing, and suitable for all abilities. Beginners can practice on park roads and trails, while experts can tackle the Catamount Trail- a backcountry cross- country ski trail that runs the length of Vermont.

Woodford State Park, Woodford VT

Close to Bennington, Vermont, Woodford is a popular spot for winter recreation. A 2.7-mile loop circumnavigates the Adams Reservoir and treats you to some nice views. For practice, ski around the paved park roads. The more adventurous can also follow the old, unmarked logging roads the run through the park. Trails are marked with blue blazes, and snowshoeing is also allowed.

What is this blue sky I see?
For those with some backcountry experience, the George D. Aiken Wilderness Area (part of the Green Mountain National Forest) is adjacent to the park. This is a marshy area on a high plateau with no established trails, though there are some old logging roads which often end abruptly. It’s a great spot to look for wildlife, too. Bonus: there are fewer mosquito viewing opportunities in winter.

Park in the winter parking area, .01 miles past the summer entrance and on the left.

Amity Pond Natural Area

Want to spend some quiet time travelling through classic Vermont countryside? This 182-acre parcel was donated to the state to “provide a natural environment for quiet relaxation by people who walk, ski or snowshoe.” The property features so much of the landscape we typically associate with Vermont: rolling hills, small ponds, meadow, woods, several brooks and evidence of past human activity like stone walls and old roads. There are several easy and moderate loop trails, and the 6.3-mile Skyline Trail, which is maintained by the Woodstock Ski Touring Center.

Parking is Allen Hill Road. There is a small pull-off on the right.

Coolidge State Forest

The Coolidge Range (which includes Killington and Pico Peak) is wooded, mountainous, and very snowy in the winter. For those with backcountry experience, explore the forest and unplowed forest roads. Park roads at Coolidge State Park and Gifford Woods State Park are less demanding but still enjoyable. An 8-mile section of the Catamount Trail (difficult in spots) runs through the forest here.

There are several maintained parking areas for winter recreation, including a winter parking area at Gifford Woods State Park. 

Thetford Hill State Park 

In summer, the 5 km Woods Hill Trail at Thetford Hill State Park is one of the finest cross country running trails in New England. Come winter, it is a lovely place to ski or snowshoe. 

Thetford Hill is located in Thetford Center, just down the road from the Thetford Academy. 

Willoughby State Forest

The area around Lake Willoughby is rightfully poplar in summer, but have you ever visited in winter? After the snow falls, the Willoughby State Forest is a popular place to snowmobile, snowshoe or cross-country ski. Several groomed ski trails run through the forest, including a loop up and down 1, 040 ft. Bartlett Mountain. There are also several snowshoe trails in the area, including the Herbert Hawkes Trail which ascends Mt. Hor. 

There is a winter parking area off Rte. 5A. 


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