Much like our award-winning craft beer and delectable maple syrup, Vermont is famous for its cross-country skiing, a winter pastime woven into the fabric of daily life in our neck of the Green Mountains. With Nordic centers in every direction surrounding Waterbury, the options for cross-country enthusiasts are endless.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the ways of classic skiing or a more advanced skier in search of the best trails for skate skiing, world-class terrain is just miles away from our Waterbury bed and breakfast, the perfect home base for your Vermont cross-country skiing getaway.
In addition to their well-earned reputation for having some of the most diverse and thrilling downhill runs anywhere on the East Coast, several of our nearby ski resorts also have separate cross-country skiing areas with vast and well-developed trail networks. You’ll find Stowe Resort’s Cross-Country Ski Center just 25 minutes from our location off Route 108 before arriving at the alpine resort. The Nordic setting is more low-key than the ritzy Spruce Peak Village resort area – instead of rows of shops and restaurants, their home base is a charming yurt in the woods, where you can check out the trail map, get conditions updates from Stowe staff, and pick up rentals. The cross-country trails here have bonafide roots, established by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the late 1930s when the first Stowe lifts were built nearby on Mt. Mansfield (the tallest peak in Vermont). Stowe’s narrower routes are best for classic skiing, while some trails with more width are excellent for classic or skate skiing. Start on the Timberline/Bruce trail loop, a perfect mix of beginner and intermediate terrain. For a more advanced route, head out on the Peavey/Bear Run trails, which include moderate climbing and downhills, reaching a 1,850-foot peak midway. These trails are all part of the 45 kilometers of groomed trails at Stowe, all well-marked and easy to navigate. But you can also easily link into their 35 additional kilometers of ungroomed, backcountry trails from here, with renowned skiing and deep powder stashes. After an exhilarating day in Stowe’s stunning backcountry, warm up with some tasty food and apres-ski drinks 10 minutes away at one of our favorite local cideries, Stowe Cider.
Another excellent option for Nordic skiiers is the Bolton Valley Nordic Center, just 15 minutes from downtown Waterbury. Bolton Valley’s 15-kilometer groomed network is expertly maintained with both classic and skate skiing in mind. Their Nordic tickets are also some of the most reasonable of any resort, with the best deal on weekdays, when they’re only $20 for a full day. Do the Broadway and Maple loop, 3 miles long, for a great introduction to their trail layout, and then add Telemark, Bobcat, and Twin Knolls, an appealing flow of beginner and intermediate sections. If you’re more advanced or want a challenge, look no further than the World Cup loop, which will test your skills. For those seeking more of a challenge, you can access the Catamount Trail directly from Bolton’s Nordic Center. After your ski session, an extra $20 will get you into the Bolton Valley Sports Center, where you can lounge in the sauna or hot tub and sip on delicious local Waterbury microbrews like Heady Topper at their indoor bar/lounge.
Von Trapp Outdoor Center
Home to the first cross-country skiing center in the country, the Von Trapp Outdoor Center sits just 20 minutes north of the inn and offers more than 40 miles of groomed trails as well as access to backcountry terrain. Rent your gear onsite and head northwest toward the Cabin Trail, a fan favorite featuring a rustic log cabin that offers a roaring fire and warming treats like soup, hot cocoa and sandwiches. Or head east and ski your way to the Von Trapp Bierhall for some truly outstanding Austrian-style craft beers and gorgeous views of the Worcester Range.
Catamount Trail, Little River State Park, and Skiing in Our Backyard
Although perfectly groomed trails are fantastic for getting into a smooth rhythm, exploring on your own in the forests nearby brings another level of adventure. The Catamount Trail – an epic route crossing all of Vermont and extending from Massachusetts to Canada – has several backcountry sections (the entire trail comprises 31 sections) that pass right by Waterbury. Section 21 extends from Route 2 to the Bolton Valley ski area base, with seven skiable miles, ranging from tight chutes to challenging downhills. Meanwhile, section 22 leaves Bolton Valley and extends deep into the Mt. Mansfield State Forest, with thousands of feet of ascent-descent over the 9.4-mile route. These trails are only appropriate for advanced skiers, and with the variability in topography, you may want an alpine touring setup rather than traditional cross-country skis.
When there is ample snow cover after a decent storm, another easily accessible area for cross-country skiing is Little River State Park, just five miles north of town. Head out on the Stevenson Brook and Dalley Loop trails, a combined seven miles, and keep your eye out for the remnants of sawmills, old church buildings, and farmhouses from when this quaint pocket of Vermont countryside was once home to over 50 families who settled here during the 1800s. It’s a classic Vermont wintertime scene with dog-sledding teams and snowmobiles on the trails while ice-fishing crews try their luck on the frozen Waterbury Reservoir.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Camel’s Hump Nordic. Reknown as a hiking destination, Camel’s Hump is also home to 20+ kilometers of groomed trails for traditional and skate skiing as well as another 40 kilometers of backcountry trails. There are no facilities here, just miles and miles of some of Vermont’s most dramatic terrain. Day passes are just $15 for adults, free for kids and seniors (70+).
Don’t feel like driving? No problem – we are just steps from a wonderful trail that loops from Dac Rowe Park and joins the Cross Vermont Trail along the Winooski River to the state office buildings (former home of the Vermont State Hospital) on the east end of town. Need equipment? You can rent gear from Waterbury Sports, just a 4-minute walk down Main Street from the Inn.
Stay with us this winter and experience the thrill, beauty, and adventure of cross-country skiing in Vermont!