Route 100: The Legendary Skier’s Highway in Vermont
February 19, 2015
What’s your favorite Vermont town along Route 100? For me, it’s a toss-up between Weston (where I was married) and Warren (where I used to live).
Route 100 stretches 216 miles along the spine of the Green Mountains through 33 classic villages and towns, from Jacksonville to Rochester to Lowell.
It’s also unofficially known as the Route 100 Skier’s Highway, providing access to some of Vermont’s most well-known resorts, including Mount Snow, Okemo, and Sugarbush. The road starts in southern Vermont at the Massachusetts border and ends just below Newport in the northern reaches of the state.
Dating back to the 1700s, Route 100 grew organically from routes connecting villages for farmers and townspeople. From its earliest days, Route 100 followed rivers and the contours of the Vermont landscape, making it become one of the most beautiful and fabled roads in the Green Mountain State.
Why Vermonters Love Route 100
Even if you’ve lived in Vermont your entire life (or most of it), it’s hard to grow tired of Route 100.
“I have a real soft spot for Route 100, it’s just so Vermont,” says Dorothy A. Lovering, a fifth generation Vermonter who grew up in South Royalton and now lives in Williston. She is the producer and director of Mountain Peaks & Valley Tales, a documentary about Route 100. “In the southern part of the state, you drive through all these little towns that have held on over time, and eventually you go up to a place like Stowe that’s just so different. What I love about Route 100 is seeing the expanse from one end of the state to the other.”
Route 100 has been around for many years and originated as small town highways before coming into the Vermont State Highway System over a period of time between 1931 and 1968, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Nearly 21 miles of Route 100 consists of co-located highway sections, including Route 9 in Wilmington, Route 30 in Jamaica, Route 11 in Londonderry, Route 103 in Ludlow, Route 100 in Bridgewater and Killington, Route 2 in Moretown, Duxbury, and Waterbury, and Route 15 in Morristown and Hyde Park.
Route 100 Skiers Highway and a Slice of Winter Paradise
Ski areas began popping up around Vermont in the 1930s, with Stowe Mountain Resort being the first in 1934. Ski areas presently located on Route 100 or close by include Mount Snow, Stratton (Route 30), Okemo, Killington, Sugarbush, and Stowe (Route 108).
Still, Lovering says Route 100 didn’t become synonymous with Vermont skiing until the 1950s and 1960s, when ski areas became more well-established and developed. Exactly when Route 100 was first coined the Skier’s Highway isn’t exactly clear.
I asked around about the origins of the Skier’s Highway moniker, and no one could find an easy answer. Paul Carnahan, librarian for the Vermont Historical Society, dug through some files and found a 1972 pamphlet from the Vermont Times Papers Group of Fair Haven, which referred to Route 100 as the Skier’s Highway. An earlier issue of Vermont Life magazine he found from 1962 called Route 100 the Skier’s Highroad.
Perhaps somewhere along the way, Skier’s Highroad simply became Skier’s Highway. It definitely sounds better, doesn’t it?
More than Skiing on Route 100
Aside from ski areas, popular stops along Route 100 include The Vermont Country Store in Weston, the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch on Route 100A, Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center, and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum in Stowe.
More than anything, it’s the small towns, winding stretches of road, and mountain views that make Route 100 so special.
“You can’t drive 75 miles per hour on Route 100. You have to slow down and take a look around you,” Lovering says. “Route 100 is in the heart of the country in Vermont. It has lots of curves, and it’s just so beautiful.”