There might not be a more essential piece of winter backcountry gear than a set of snowshoes. They provide the buoyancy needed to navigate deep packed snow. Without them, it’s exhausting and hopeless. Spend a day trudging through ankle deep powder and you’ll wonder how moose manage to get around in the winter.
I have a couple pair of snowshoes up in the attic, which made me think of Vermont. It’s beautiful there this time of year: All that snow. So we’ve assembled a snowshoers guide to the Green Mountain State. Here are four places to snowshoe in Vermont.
Camel’s Hump, outside Waterbury
Strap on your snowshoes and set out for this 4,063-foot-high peak, one of the state’s most noted features. Even better, the peak is untouched, meaning there are no ski lifts, towers, homes or roads. The 0.8-mile loop is a very easy excursion, and will let the snowshoe adventurer enjoy winter wildlife and lovely views. The benches are also good spots for a lunch.
Old Railroad Bed, near Brattelboro
Head down to the southern end of the state for this trail system, The railroad that once ran alongside the West River here was called “36 miles of trouble.” But the flat and scenic section that kicks off through Jamaica State Park is no trouble at all. The West River Railroad ran between Brattleboro and Londonderry from 1879 until 1935. But with the Vermont winters and then a devastating flood in 1927 the tracks were ultimately torn up. The rail bed remains as a 2-mile-wide stretch with nine nature stops filled with historical and ecological information about the area, running alongside the dark, rushing river waters, strewn with snow-capped rocks in a narrow gorge.
Mount Olga Trail
This one’s great because it has a fire tower. The 2,415-foot Mount Olga in southern Vermont’s Molly Stark State Park offers an interesting destination. There are some wooden maintenance shacks for the antenna perched atop the mountain. And of course the fire tower! The 360-degree view gives views of three states—southern Vermont, northern Massachusetts, and southwestern New Hampshire. This one is one of those destination hikes that makes fro a great story.
The 1,240-foot Mount Tom in winter is classic Vermont. Faulkner Trail is a series of switchbacks that zigzag up to the top where an old carriage road loops around. Follow the circular path to find views of the village, Killington Peak, Mount Ascutney, Mount Peg, and the mountains of the Granite State. And the grade is gentle, with benches placed along the way, though some may be covered with snow. You’ll also find boulders, left behind as the glaciers retreated. And as a glimpse into Colonial America, stone walls reach out from the snow, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find an old stone bridge.
These are just a few options for the intrepid snowshoe adventurer when visiting Vermont. But don’t forget also to pick up some maple syrup, and some Green Mountain Coffee.
Photo credit: AdventureJay.com