Making Tracks: Ten Spots for Family Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing | Outdoors & Recreation | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Making Tracks: Ten Spots for Family Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing


Published January 28, 2017 at 5:30 a.m.

Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton - COURTESY OF RIKERT NORDIC CENTER
  • Courtesy Of Rikert Nordic Center
  • Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton

When winter gives you cabin fever, head for a different cabin — one nestled in the woods, accessible only by cross-country skis or snowshoes. Gliding and clomping through the snow is the perfect activity for families who never caught the downhill-skiing bug. It's also a total-body workout, burning as many as 1,000 calories per hour — take that, sugar cookies. BabyBjörns, fleece buntings and ski trailers allow infants to get in on the action, too, while fat biking offers a new option for pedaling through the powder.

Below are 10 family-friendly spots for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Vermont, all of which offer rental gear. Once you're hooked, you can find your own setup at Burlington's Skirack and Outdoor Gear Exchange, or South Burlington's Alpine Shop, among other retail locations. So bundle up and get into the snowy woods. From investigating animal tracks to enjoying the peaceful, frost-covered landscape, an outdoor adventure may be the perfect way to keep the winter blues away.

Blueberry Hill Ski Center, Goshen

This ski and snowshoe center, located in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, makes for a marvelous spot to explore 50 kilometers of trails. Drop off your donation ($10 suggested) at the ski center, then return there for hot soup when you're sufficiently chilled.

Bolton Valley, Bolton

While the masses schuss down the alpine slopes at this ski area, savvy locals know to head for the 100-kilometer nordic trail system, which includes 15 kilometers of groomed trails — then hit the hot tub and pool at the Sports Center (membership required).

Catamount Outdoor Family Center, Williston

Killer views of Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump, along with a sledding hill and more than 35 kilometers of skiing and snowshoe trails, make this farmhouse and surrounding land a must-see in winter.

Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury

Hot cocoa and cookies reward cross-country skiers and snowshoers who make it to the Charley's Cabin warming hut at this royal recreation site in the Northeast Kingdom, which offers 85 kilometers of trails. Snowmaking, meanwhile, ensures plenty of white stuff throughout the winter.

Kingdom Trails, East Burke

A new Nordic center awaits visitors to these venerable trails, which offer 15 kilometers of groomed surfaces for cross-country skiing and 30 kilometers for snowshoeing. Look out for wonderful views of Willoughby Gap and what's been called "the prettiest mile in Vermont" on Darling Hill.

Mountain Top Inn & Resort, Chittenden

With more than 30 years of continuous operation, this is the oldest commercial ski touring center in the U.S. It offers 60 kilometers of trails and wide-open meadows for comfortable cruising. It also offers horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating on a 740-acre lake and snowmobiling.

Rikert Nordic Center, Ripton

Slicing through the Bread Loaf Campus of Middlebury College, Rikert Nordic Center has more than 55 kilometers of trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking. Look out for the Middlebury College Panthers training and racing on the Tormondsen Family Race Course and for Robert Frost's summer cabin, deep in the Green Mountain National Forest.

Sleepy Hollow Inn Ski & Bike Center, Huntington

This inn really wakes up in the winter, when 35 kilometers of cross-country and snowshoeing trails come alive with kids and elite racers alike. Consider making the pilgrimage to Butternut Cabin, one mile from the main lodge, where families can spend the night (must reserve in advance).

Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe

The hills are alive with skiers and snowshoers at the singing von Trapps' 2,500-acre resort, where 37 miles of groomed trails and 62 miles of backcountry trails offer panoramic views of Stowe. The new, family-friendly Bierhall serves as base camp; fuel up on bratwurst before skiing or snowshoeing up to the Slayton Pasture Cabin to warm up by the fire.

Intervale Center, Burlington

In winter, a short but sweet three-mile cross-country ski trail weaves through Burlington's snow-covered farms. Wintervale, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on February 12 and March 12, offers free ski and snowshoe rentals, food and drink for purchase, and kids' activities.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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