Little-Known Vermont Winter Trails to Explore This Season
December 13, 2023
For a small state, Vermont is big on trails. The Long Trail, Catamount Trail, and Kingdom Trails are among the state’s most legendary areas for hiking, backcountry skiing, and mountain biking. Fortunately, access to Vermont winter trails can happen without going to a ski resort or traversing the backcountry. The Green Mountain State is home to a variety of smaller Vermont winter trails and trail networks offering snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Try these lesser-known Vermont winter trails and trail networks, which are available to explore for free or by donation.
Established in 2003, Hardwick Trails includes 10K groomed and mostly tracked trails for Nordic skiing. It’s worth noting that the trail system was designed by John Morton, Olympic biathlete, author of many books about Nordic skiing and renowned Nordic ski trail designer.
Snowshoes and cross-country skis, boots and poles are available for loan at the log cabin behind the Hazen Union School on most Saturday mornings throughout the winter season. Check the Hardwick Trails Facebook page to confirm loan availability. (Hazen Union Drive, Hardwick; hardwicktrails.com)
Silloway Maple Trails in Randolph Center
Family-owned Silloway Maple, established in the 1940s, keeps its sugarbush trails open to the public year-round. The trails are used for sap line maintenance between November and April, and public winter trail use is recommended mainly for snowshoeing and occasional cross-country skiing.
Winter hours are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check in at the sugarhouse to find maple syrup and products when you arrive. Silloway Maple also offers free samples and sugarhouse tours. (1303 Boudro Road; Randolph Center; sillowaymaple.com)
Hartland Winter Trails
Hartland Winter Trails includes 25 km of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Open only in winter, Hartland Winter Trails are maintained by volunteers from the community and located on private property owned by more than 30 landowners.
The first trail was created in the early 1970s by Hartland resident Henry Merritt, who started cross-country skiing with his daughter from their back porch on a short trail he cut to a neighboring field. Over the past 50 years, new winter trails have been created to establish an interconnected network of multiple loops of varying length and difficulty for all levels. (50 VT Route 12, Hartland; hartlandwintertrails.org).
Retreat Farm in Brattleboro
Retreat Farm’s trails were established by the Brattleboro Retreat in the 1800s and have been used by the Brattleboro community for decades. The 10-mile trail network is free and open to the public to walk, hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski. You can access the trail network from five different trailheads to explore the Nature Trail, Ice Pond, Woodlands Interpretive Trail, and Stone Tower. The Brattleboro Outing Club occasionally grooms sections of Retreat Farm if there is enough natural snow. Donations to support free trail access and maintenance can be made at retreatfarm.org. (45 Farmhouse Square, Brattleboro; retreatfarm.org)
Bennington Area Trail System
The Bennington Area Trail System (BATS) offers 15 miles of trails, including ones ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Try Hops & Vines, Carriage Path, Cave Trail, and Halloween Tree. Trails are located on the former Southern Vermont College property (now owned by Southwestern Vermont Health Care)—a scenic area on the eastern edge of Mount Anthony. Park at the former college field house near the bottom of Mansion Road for trail access. (Mansion Road, Bennington; batsvt.org)
Trail Around Middlebury
The Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) covers more than 19 miles circumnavigating Middlebury through fields, forests, and along rivers. Maintained by the Middlebury Area Land Trust, the TAM is open in winter for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Enjoy these Vermont winter trails by cross-country skiing on Means Woods, Battell Woods, Class of ’97 Trail, O’Neil Trail, and Wright Park. Snowshoeing routes include Chipman Hill and Otter Creek Gorge. (Middlebury; maltvt.org)
-Snowshoeing in Bennington. / Photo by Margaret Ohrn
Slate Valley Trails in Rutland County
Slate Valley Trails maintains more than 50 miles of public trails in Poultney, Castleton, and Wells. The area offers groomed trails only for fat biking, skiing, and snowshoeing from its Fairgrounds trailhead in Poultney (bare booting is prohibited). Other trails in the system that are not maintained are open in winter for recreation, including winter hiking or snowshoeing.
Routes that will be groomed when there’s enough snow include Cotton Candy, Clown Shoes, Bumper Cars, and Merry-Go-Round. (Trails closed for deer wintering are Back Nine, Lower Birdie, Lightning, Gap Tooth, and Lollipop.) (131 Town Farm Road, Poultney; slatevalleytrails.org)
Memphremagog Trails in Newport
Not far from the Canadian border is Memphremagog Trails in Newport, a network offering Nordic, snowshoe, and fat biking trails. The nonprofit organization’s trails—with year-round access made possible by private landowners—include six miles of groomed fat-tire single-track trails, 30 km of cross-country ski trails, plus a 1.5K lighted loop for night skiing.
Memphremagog Trails, established in 2001, also offers adult Nordic ski lessons, a Bill Koch Ski League for youth, rentals, and reciprocal memberships at other trail systems. (3892 Darling Hill Road, Newport; mstf.net)
-The West River Trail’s Upper Section trailhead in South Londonderry.
West River Trail in Windham County
The 36-mile West River Trail includes an Upper Section in Londonderry, Jamaica, and Townshend and a Lower Section in Brattleboro and Dummerston. Most of the trail system is not groomed for skiing. However, the Army Corps of Engineers grooms in the Winhall Campground and along a few miles in the Upper Section.
Upper Section access points include the Winhall Campground and the trail head at the end of West River Street in South Londonderry. Lower Section parking and access is at the Marina Trailhead or Rice Farm Road in Dummerston. (westrivertrail.org)
Hubbard Park and North Branch River Park in Montpelier
Hubbard Park is Montpelier’s largest park and dates back to 1899. Located in the heart of the city, the park features over 200 acres and includes more than seven miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. Visitors will also find a sledding hill and a 54-foot stone observation tower.
Located off Elm Street, North Branch River Park stretches nearly a mile along the North Branch River. A multi-use path runs along the river, and a network of smaller multi-use trails are in the park’s hilly terrain. (Hubbard Park: 400 Parkway Street; North Branch: 713 Elm Street; montpelier-vt.org)
The Intervale in Burlington
Founded in 1988, the Intervale Center manages a 360-acre campus of farmland, trails, and open space along the Winooski River. Enjoy three miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. Along the Winooski River, explore ungroomed trails that wind through the woods. (180 Intervale Road, Burlington; intervale.org)
-Flickr Creative Commons; Main image Shutterstock.
-This story has been updated from an earlier version first published in December 2022.