The big winter activity in town is, of course, at Stowe Mountain Resort on Mount Mansfield, a few miles out of town. But there are a number of other outdoor activities to complete a winter getaway in Stowe.
Trying Mount Mansfield
Mount Mansfield in the highest peak in Vermont and its trails have some of the state’s greatest vertical. This is a big resort by northeastern New England standards and they have lots of equipment to overcome this winter’s uncooperative weather. Normally, they offer both alpine and Nordic (cross country) skiing. As of February 17 they are reporting 10 lifts and 77 trails open for alpine skiing, for a total of about 30 miles of trails. Snowmaking and grooming have allowed them to retain good conditions and they groomed 60 trails overnight last night. Check their website for conditions before setting out.
Nordic and snowshoes
Because of low natural snow on the resort’s Nordic trails this year there is no cross country skiing at the moment, but the Nordic trails are open for snowshowing. This is a great option for anyone who just wants to get out into the fresh air. The Trapp Family Lodge is another great place for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Currently they have 14 trails, ranked from beginner to advanced, open for Nordic and snowshoeing and report hard pack. On some of the trails they are recommending snowshoers use crampons. Lessons and equipment rentals are available at both locations. The town itself operates a 5.3-mile recreation path that is available for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing in winter. It passes through meadows and crosses the West Branch River several times, and a trail leads from the Stoweflake Resort directly to the Recreation Trail. You can use the equipment from the above two places or check with your hotel, as some have snowshoes for guests. Alternatively, there are several ski shops that have rentals.
Skating, using ice to advantage
Stowe Mountain resort operates Spruce Peak skating rink at the base of the mountain. Even though it is part of a resort facility it is open to the public from noon until 9 PM and it is free. There is more skating at Stowe Arena, at 350 Park Street in Stowe, and a list of public skating hours is available online. Another skating option is the Ice Center, a few miles down Route 100 in Waterbury.
Romantic sleigh rides
Stowe has two popular options for sleigh rides. The Trapp Family Lodge sleighs carry passengers on scenic group rides Friday through Sunday, and sometimes on weekdays (check the schedule online). Generally the rides are available 10 AM to Noon and 1 to 4 PM, with private rides after 4PM. No reservations are required unless you want a private ride. Another beautiful option for sleigh rides is Gentle Giants, at 4000 Mountain Road. You will need reservations for Gentle Giants but the rides are in authentic sleighs, including a bright red “Santa” sleigh. They operate daily from 11 AM, by reservation, which you can make online.
More Stowe in the snow
The village of Stowe has a lot to offer once the day on the trails is over. There is an active downtown area with arts and shopping opportunities. One of the best Spas in Vermont is at the Stoweflake Resort. Take a safe brewery tour with 4Point tours to several of the town’s breweries, check out the Vermont Ski Museum or dine around. There is plenty to keep you busy for a few days, or a week.