Stowe, known for its downhill skiing is also a great place to explore the outdoors on cross-country skis. Photo by Glenn Callahan
Explore the outdoors
Downhill skiing on Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, made Stowe famous. But Stowe is also a premier cross-country ski resort, home of Trapp Family Lodge, the first cross-country center in the country.
Today, Stowe boasts four interconnected cross-country ski centers and one of the largest, most diverse trail systems in the United States. Cross-country ski maps show trails in every corner of town, from the white-steepled church in Stowe Village to Mt. Mansfield's ridge and the Trapp lodge. More than 150 kilometers of groomed and 100 kilometers of backcountry trails crisscross Stowe's landscape.
One of those backcountry trails is the Catamount Trail, 300 miles of wilderness skiing over the spine of the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Quebec. It connects 15 ski centers throughout the state, including the four in Stowe.
It wasn't by design that Stowe's four cross-country centers connected; it happened over time as each area's groomed trails expanded. While each ski center offers rentals, lessons and a range of terrain from novice to backcountry, each has distinct characteristics that enhance the cross-country ski experience in Stowe.
Trapp Family Lodge
The heart of Stowe's expansive cross-country system is Trapp Family Lodge, the first commercial ski center in the United States. In 1968 Johannes von Trapp opened the ski center at his family's lodge. Today it is Stowe's largest ski center with 45 kilometers of groomed trails and 100 kilometers of backcountry trails.
Those who have never skied before can get outfitted at the rental shop, take a lesson or two, and try out their new skills on wide, tree-lined, expertly groomed novice and intermediate trails. And there's snowmaking too!
Expert skiers can also find plenty of action as they head toward Mt. Mansfield's ridgeline. Some of Stowe's oldest ski paths, such as Ranch Camp and Steeple, date back to the 1920s and are now backcountry trails that wind their way along the curved inner face of the mountain. These historic trails also link Trapps with Stowe Mountain Resort's cross-country center, the first of many connections among the ski areas in Stowe.
Stowe Mountain Resort
The Stowe Mountain Resort Cross-Country Touring Center's accessibility to the downhill ski area creates an uncommon fusion of Nordic and alpine skiing. Stowe Mountain Resort's 35 kilometers of groomed and 40 kilometers of backcountry trails are the highest in Stowe. Also available are 5 kilometers of trails specifically for snowshoeing.
Topnotch, Edson Hill & beyond
Topnotch at Stowe Resort and Spa offers additional terrain from which cross-country skiers can immediately access Stowe's 5.5-mile Recreation Path. This broad, relatively flat public trail connects Topnotch and all the other ski areas to Stowe Village.
Just up the hill from Topnotch is Edson Hill Manor Touring Center. Edson Hill's 225-acre estate offers 25 kilometers of trails—beginner to expert—through forests and meadows. Cross-country skiers can also easily access Vermont's Catamount Trail from here.
In nearby Greensboro on stunning Caspian Lake, skiers can enjoy the uncrowded splendor of the Highland Lodge's 50 km of roller-packed terrain. Whether on skis or snowshoes, these trails allow unique access to high-country farm meadows, boreal woodlands, and frozen ponds and lakes.
Over the mountain in Cambridge, the Smugglers' Cross Country Center at Smugglers' Resort offers 34 km of cross-country trails and 24 km of dedicated snowshoe trails through woods and fields.