Snowshoeing in Vermont: how to enjoy New England in winter
Snowshoeing in Vermont is one of the best ways to enjoy its spectacular rural scenery, with snowy trails ranging from mountain peaks and thru-hiking trails to ski resorts
Snowshoeing in Vermont is truly the quintessential winter sport in this picturesque New England mountain state. Like Vermont’s inhabitants, snowshoeing is a no-frills, wholesome and adventurous activity. Vermont might not have the towering peaks and glitzy resorts of western states like Colorado, but it has unbeatable charm in its picturesque villages and the beautiful Green Mountains which are blanketed in snow during the long winters, and you can enjoy all of this with far smaller crowds.
Snowshoeing in Vermont is one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular rural scenery here, with countless trails ranging from mountain hikes and famous thru-hiking trails to resort areas, all of which are transformed into snowy wonderlands come winter. Though there are certainly plenty of ski resorts for adrenaline junkies here too, we like snowshoeing for its accessibility and affordability. After all, snowshoeing requires no special training, you can bring the whole family and all you really need to do is choose a pair of snowshoes and set off.
If you’re new to snowshoeing, it’s worth reading our article on snowshoeing for beginners before you head out so you’re amply prepared for maximum fun. If you’re planning on spending any time at all in Vermont in winter, you’ll also want to know how to dress as it gets seriously cold up in the northeast. Beyond that, all you need to do is pick a trail and get ready to be astounded by the natural beauty here.
It may be fundamentally impossible to pick the best snowshoeing trails in a state that has so many, but we’ve selected some of our favorites from around the state, including backcountry trails for those seeking a more rugged adventure, state parks for affordable, well-maintained trails and nordic centers where you can enjoy full-service amenities and even guided tours. All that’s left is for you to grab your hiking boots and snowshoes and get out there.
You may also be interested in our article on snowshoeing in Colorado if you're traveling west this winter.
Snowshoeing in Vermont: backcountry trails
Pretty much every hiking trail in Vermont becomes a snowshoeing trail once winter arrives, and these trails are mostly free to access, and all well served with plowed parking lots.
Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch
Smuggler’s Notch is a mountain pass separating Mount Mansfield in the Green Mountains from the Sterling Range and in the early 19th century provided an illicit route for illegal trade with Canada and for fugitive slaves to escape to the north. Today, old Route 108 which runs from Stowe to the northern border makes a splendid scenic drive in the summer months, and in the winter months is closed to traffic and becomes a snowshoeing haven.
Park at the Barnes Camp Lot just past Stowe Mountain Resort on the right and hike as long as you’d like along this wide, easy, beautiful trail. You can turn around at Barnes Camp Visitor Center for a 3-mile round trip journey, or keep going to Sterling Point for a 4-mile adventure.
Pico Peak via Sherburne Pass Trail
Pico Peak near Killington is one of the state’s highest mountains and makes for an adventurous and more challenging snowshoe adventure. The Sherburne Pass Trail takes you from the Pass up to the summit of Pico Peak via what used to be part of the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail. After a Nor’easter, you’ll be treated to deep powder as you hike through the woods and by old mining camps with views of Killington Peak. You’ll intersect with ski runs on Pico Mountain Ski Resort from time to time and it’s a unique experience to weave between the quiet backcountry and glimpses of folks whizzing by on their way downhill.
Park at Sherburne Pass on Route 4. The roundtrip distance to the summit is almost seven miles but you can turn around any time.
Camel’s Hump via the Monroe Trail
Camel’s Hump is a peak in Duxbury and from the top, you can enjoy unparalleled views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks and the White Mountains. The Monroe Trail in winter provides a quiet hike through the woods that starts off gentle but soon becomes more strenuous. After a big storm, if there are no other snowshoe tracks, follow the blue blazes on the trees.
It is 2.1 miles to the summit from the parking lot which you can reach by taking Route 2 to Jonesville, turning right over the Winooski River Bridge then turning left on Duxbury Road. After about six miles, turn right at the stop sign up Camel’s Hump Road and find the parking area after 3.6 miles.
Lake Mansfield Trail
For a lovely, easy trail this one is the way to go. The beginning of this hike is flat and takes you through the Trout Club, which is private property, so stay on the trail as you skirt the northern edge of the lake. After a stream crossing, the trail begins to gently climb and takes you through a small gorge before views of Nebraska Notch reveal themself. Taylor Lodge provides excellent views and a great spot to rest before turning back.
From Stowe, drive south on 100 and take Moscow Rd West. Bear left at the first Y, then right onto Nebraska Valley Rd. After six miles, turn right onto County Road and take the first left into the parking area.
The Catamount Trail
The Catamount Trail runs along the entire length of Vermont from north to south and at 300 miles is the country’s longest cross country ski trail. Needless to say, the entire route would be an ambitious undertaking on snowshoes, but its 31 sections provide lots of beautiful day hikes. A popular section is the one which travels from Bolton Valley Nordic Center to the legendary Trapp Family Lodge via a challenging 9.4 mile hike through forests with fabulous mountain views of nearby Mansfield and Camel’s Hump. There is a shuttle service on Saturdays in the winter to get back to your car.
Because it is a ski trail, snowshoers should hike along the edge so as to keep the trail in good conditions for skiers. Although this is a backcountry trail, some Nordic Centers along the route do charge a fee for access.
Mount Hunger via Waterbury Trail
Mount Hunger in Waterbury is a fun peak to climb and offers great views of the state’s highest peak, Mansfield. This trail starts out gentle then becomes more steep, with several stream crossings. You’ll pass by several waterfalls on your way up to the wide open summit, just over two miles from the trailhead.
From Waterbury center, turn right onto Loomis Hill Road and continue once it turns into Sweet Farms Road to the parking area about 3.5 miles from town.
Equinox Mountain via the Blue Summit Trail
Located in Manchester, Equinox Mountain is the highest peak in the Taconic Range and is mostly on Equinox Mountain Preservation Trust Land. There are lots of great snowshoeing trails here, but to get to the top you’ll want to take the Red Gate Trail through rolling woods to the Blue Summit Trail which climbs steeply for the remainder of the hike, making a 6.2 mile round trip journey. There is a visitor center at the top, which is closed in winter and somewhat ruins the sense of wilderness, but the hike and views are still worth it.
Park at the lot on West Union Street downtown.
Snowshoeing in Vermont: state parks
Vermont’s 55 state parks offer loads of great snowshoeing in winter, often with a small entry fee. Though these parks won’t have as much in the way of wardens and facilities as they do in the summer months, they’re great if you’re looking for a helpful map and well-marked trails.
Sunset Ridge Trail on Mount Mansfield
At 4,395ft tall, Mount Mansfield is Vermont’s highest peak and sits in the beautiful Green Mountain Range. Mount Mansfield is so-named because it resembles a human face, from Adam’s Apple to forehead. There are numerous routes up Mount Mansfield, which draws more hikers than any other mountain in the state, and the Sunset Ridge Trail made our list of best hikes in Vermont for fall colors as it offers the best views. In the winter, it is still accessible on snowshoes, however you may benefit from 4WD to get to the trailhead.
Find the trailhead at the campground off Mountain Road in Underhill State Park. The Sunset Ridge Trail is mostly above treeline and therefore quite exposed, but also offers the best views of the surrounding area. To begin, hike along the Civilian Conservation Corps Road, for just under a mile, then follow the signs for the Sunset Trail and head up a slow climb through a wooded area before breaking out above treeline. Near the top, the trail intersects the Long Trail. The last half-mile involves crevices and boulders to the summit, which is the chin part of the imagined face. Follow the Long Trail back down to the CCC road to make a stunning loop. To do the whole loop, you’ll want to start early in winter, but you can also simply walk out for a couple of miles and turn back any time.
Mount Elmore in Elmore State Park
In beautiful northern Vermont, Mount Elmore in Elmore State Park offers several options for snowshoeing. You can turn around at the old fire warden’s cabin, about two miles in or keep going just a little further and climb up the old fire tower for 360-degree views. From there, you can return the way you came or keep going on the Ridge Trail to make a 5.6 mile loop.
Park at the only parking area in the park and follow the signs to pick up the Fire Tower Trail.
Snowshoeing in Vermont: nordic centers
Vermont is home to dozens of nordic ski centers where you can pay a day use fee to use well maintained trails and enjoy a nice hot chocolate at the lodge afterwards. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorites around the state.
- Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center: Located in the heart of the Green Mountain National Forest, the Outdoor Center provides access to the Blueberry Hill network of trails, the Vermont Long Trail, The Catamount Trail, and the Moosalamoo National Forest Trails.
- Bolton Valley Nordic Center: Bolton’s 100-kilometer Nordic trail system offers terrain for skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts of all levels, with 15 kilometers of groomed trails.
- Catamount Outdoor Family Center: Catamount Outdoor Family Center began as a cross country ski center in 1978 and now has separate snowshoeing trails.
- Mountain Top Inn: In operation since 1964, This center in Killington covers 60 kilometers of trails with two kilometers being covered consistently by a snowmaking system.
- Okemo Nordic Center: Okemo Nordic Center boasts 13km of dedicated snowshoeing trails in addition to 21km of Nordic ski tracks.
- Prospect Mountain Nordic Ski Center: Prospect Mountain maintains more than 30 kilometers of trails including dedicated snowshoe trails.
- Smuggler’s Nordic Center: Smuggs is home to 30 kilometers of cross-country trails and dedicated snowshoe terrain.
- Stowe’s Cross Country Center: Stowe Mountain Resort's Cross Country Ski Center offers 45 kilometers of groomed trails and 30 kilometers of backcountry terrain.
- Stratton Mountain Nordic Center: Stratton Mountain's Nordic Center features 12km of trails groomed for classic and skate cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and Fat Biking. Beginners and experts will enjoy the tree-lined trail system.
- Sugarbush: Explore numerous trails on Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen.
- Trapp Family Lodge: Trapp Family Lodge is home to the first cross-country ski center in the country, and now caters to snowshoers too with lots of trails.
All the latest inspiration, tips and guides to help you plan your next Advnture!
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.