Please plan ahead and prepare when going for any hike. We strongly suggest that hikers carry a map and guidebook when heading out to the trails. Also be aware that while winter is a very beautiful time of year to hike, the season brings with it some challenges and risks that you just don’t have to deal with in other seasons. It is especially important to be prepared.
Below are some suggested winter hikes around Vermont, all of which can be found in GMC guidebooks. GMC’s Winter Hiking Guide has hikes particularly well suited to winter. GMC’s Day Hiker’s Guide describes more than 150 trails to mountains, scenic ponds and waterfalls, and nature trails in the Green Mountains and beyond. In the Long Trail Guide, you will find detailed maps and descriptions of the Long Trail System and the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, suggested day hikes, shelter descriptions, and public campgrounds near the trail. The Walker’s Guide to Vermont includes shorter walks and leisurely rambles around the state.
Mt. Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail, Underhill: Intersecting ski tracks and white blazes can make the Long Trail up Mansfield hard to follow in the winter, so Sunset Ridge is an alternative to summit Vermont’s highest mountain during the winter. With the state park and part of the mountain road closed during the winter, the round trip is mileage is increased to a difficult 8 miles, so remember to start your hike early! Also keep in mind that although the alpine zone may be snow covered, there is still fragile alpine flora, so please stay on trail to help protect and preserve it!
Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe: Closed to vehicle traffic in the winter, Route 108 through Smuggler’s Notch provides a beautiful and easy snowshoe or ski option. Most people choose the Visitor Center at the height of land as their destination, but those feeling more adventurous can extend the hike up to Sterling Pond.
Laraway Lookout, Waterville: This moderately challenging 3.6-mile out and back on the Long Trail is even more spectacular in the winter. Not only do hikers get views of Mansfield and the Sterling Range, but large ice pillars form on the rock faces the trail passes by.
Wheeler Pond Loop, Barton: If you are planning to stay at one of our Wheeler Pond Camps this winter, this short, easy loop is great for all abilities and starts right out the front door! From the cabins, follow the Wheeler Pond Trail to the Moose Mountain trailhead then follow the lightly traveled Wheeler Mountain Rd back to complete the loop.
Stratton Pond, Stratton: The gradual terrain of the Catamount Trail and the Long Trail make for a pleasant 7.5-mile roundtrip snowshoe out to Stratton Pond. The pond provides beautiful winter scenery while the shelter provides a great spot to eat lunch.
Clarendon Loop, Clarendon: This 2-mile loop starts with a moderately challenging ascent to a lookout then provides a gentle ridge walk to Clarendon Shelter. Hikers then follow an old Long Trail route back to the parking area. If time allows, don’t forget to take a short walk south on the LT to check out Clarendon Gorge and the ice sculptures that form in the winter.
Baker Peak, Mount Tabor: Although Baker Peak’s highest point sits at 2850’, the views found near the summit make the difficult 5.8 miles worth the trip. The trail follows the Lake Trail, Baker Peak Trail, and finally the Long Trail through the Big Branch Wilderness Area making it a true winter adventure!
Mt. Olga, Wilmington: This moderate 1.9-mile loop makes Mt. Olga a great first-time winter ascent. The trail is usually well traveled and rarely steep plus the fire tower at the summit provides rewarding views.
Mt. Tom, Woodstock: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park offers endless snowshoe and ski trails in the winter. Multiple easy routes will bring hikers to the summit of Mt. Tom where views of the beautiful town of Woodstock can be found.
Appalachian Trail, Maine Junction to Norwich: This 44-mile section of the AT has many day hike options that provide rolling hills, open areas, views, and shelters. Make your day as long or as short as you want. Specific suggestions can be found in our Day Hiker’s Guide or Long Trail Guide.
Spruce Mountain, Plainfield: The ascent to the summit of the 3037’ Spruce Mountain gradually climbs until the last ½ mile steepens and can become notoriously icy. Microspikes or snowshoes with crampons are highly recommended for this section, but you will be greeted by sweeping views toward NH and 360 views from the fire tower.
Skylight Pond, Ripton: Located just outside the Breadloaf Wilderness, the Skylight Pond Trail has a wonderfully quiet and remote atmosphere. With USFS Road 59 closed in the winter, hikers follow it for a mile before reaching Skylight Pond Trail. The trail then leads 2.5 miles out to the beautiful, high-elevation Skylight Pond. Take a rest and eat some lunch at the four-sided shelter, Skyline Lodge.
Mount Abraham, Lincoln: With Lincoln Gap closed in winter, the Battell Trail to the Long Trail is the most direct route up to the summit of one of Vermont’s highest mountains, Mt. Abraham. Though the terrain can be difficult at times, it is all worth the effort to reach the beautiful alpine summit with breathtaking 360-degree views.
Abbey Pond, Middlebury/Ripton: Abbey Pond Trail steadily climbs 2.2 miles past Abbey Pond Cascades and ends at Abbey Pond. The cascades and the pond offer wonderful winter scenery making this a great snowshoe option.
Great Cliff of Mount Horrid, Rochester: With the cliff closed March 15 – August 1 due to Peregrine falcon nesting, winter is a great time to hike to the Great Cliff of Mount Horrid. Although a short climb, the trail is steep and demanding, but hikers are rewarded with amazing views from the top. In the right snow conditions, hikers can also be rewarded with glissading back down the trail.