The Trapp Family Lodge is the largest cross-country centre in the area, attracting some 60,000 visitors each winter. It is also famous for the Trapp family history as portrayed in The Sound of Music. And the oldest cross-country centre on the continent remains an innovator, recently installing artificial snowmaking that ensures a connection from the ski centre across a sunny field up to trails in the woods. The trail network includes 60 kilometres of groomed trails and 100 kilometres of backcountry trails.
Both group lessons and individual coaching are available at Trapp. The rental shop carries a wide range of sizes and also has pulks (ski sleds for pulling infants and toddlers). Trapp Family Lodge markets itself as a “family-friendly” destination, pointing to the on-site presence of the Mountain Kids Club and how the trail network allows families to ski together at all levels.
Stowe Mountain Resort’s Cross Country Ski Touring Center has 45 kilometres of groomed trails and 30 kilometres of backcountry skiing. It is owned by the same company that operates the better-known alpine ski centre and fancy new five-star hotel three kilometres up the road, meaning that alpine skiers can access the touring centre without buying an additional ticket.
While the downhill centre and hotel recently benefited from almost half-a-billion dollars in renovations, the touring centre is simply housed in a double-wide trailer bought secondhand in the 1970s. Also in the same building is a small cafe, ski rentals, washrooms and a boutique so finding a spot to sit might be difficult on busy weekends.
“It’s mainly the knickers crowd here,” jokes Nordic Cross-country manager Scott Dorwart. “They enjoy our intimate and narrow classic trails. The Lycra crowd prefers skiing at Trapp, although we do have some skating trails as well.” Dorwart adds that many of the customers at his ski centre are “backcountry locals” attracted by the unique wilderness skiing opportunities at Stowe. A $20 day pass for the touring area includes a lift ticket to the nearby Tall House Double chairlift and the possibility of skiing at 3,500 feet. Some 10,000 skiers and snowshoers come through the touring centre annually, including school groups. Snowshoers also make up an estimated 15% of the visitors here.
The touring centre benefits from an eastern exposure that keeps the snow after it melts off other nearby cross-country centres. Stowe’s season normally extends from mid-December to late April. Extended-season skiing continues unofficially after that on the toll road up near the top of Mount Mansfield.
Events hosted at Stowe Mountain include the Nordic BKL Mini-Marathon in early January, the Stowe Derby in late February and various events organized by the Stowe Nordic Outing Club. An unusual attraction at Stowe Touring Center is a chance to reconnect with history. The land here encompasses the vestiges of old logging operations and one of the first downhill runs opened in North America. The timber camp is an historical site dating from the 1930s, while another trail was cut by the Civilian Corps in 1933 for the original chairlift at Stowe’s alpine centre. Ski history buffs can also check out Stowe’s Vermont Ski Museum.
At Topnotch Resort and Spa, luxury is perhaps an understatement. Manager Dan Oberlander speaks about how the resort attracts people who like to ski in the morning and play tennis in the afternoon. Topnotch has a partnership with the Nordic Barn, a local outfitter, to provide cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities for its guests, both on 80 acres of private land and on the nearby municipal trail. The Nordic Barn also offers 25 kilometres of its own trails — open to the general public — that connect to Trapp and to Stowe’s Recreational Path trails as well as the municipal “Rec Path.” Ski rentals and lessons are available, as are snowshoe tours.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa similarly offers luxurious amenities and a network of groomed trails (five kilometres) that connect with the Rec Path. The trails, for guests and members, are known as a good venue for skate-skiing and attract some 300 skiers annually. Lessons and rentals can be arranged here, but call first. Also offered here is Nordic walking — both with and without snowshoes — on a daily basis throughout the winter. The general public is welcome to join Nordic walking classes for a modest fee.
Stowe’s Recreational Path is an 8.5km trail that serves as a bike path in the summer and cross-country ski/snowshoe trail in the winter. Access is free to this trail that crosses and re-crosses the West Branch River 11 times, running from the village centre up to Topnotch, connecting with Stoweflake and Golden Eagle along the way.
Collectively, there are some 3,200 beds available in Stowe, housed in country inns to five-star hotels. Prices start at approximately $70 per night, and Canadians will be glad to know that their money is often accepted at par here. The area also offers some 30 restaurants, some of which are also bars, though Stowe’s nightlife is perhaps tame compared to some other ski towns.
Trapp Family Lodge
Stowe Mountain Resort
Vermont Ski Museum
Topnotch Resort and Spa
$15 adult day pass
Edson Hill Manor
Golden Eagle Resort
Umiak Outdoor Outfitters
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
Vermont ski resorts
Stowe accommodation and