Catamount Outdoor Center Skiers

Three cross-country skiers glide through the fresh snow on the Woodstrace trail Dec. 9 at Catamount Outdoor Family Center.

In Vermont, cross-country skiing is as much of a winter tradition as hot chocolate and snowman-building. With its high peaks and swooping valleys, the Green Mountain State boasts many places to make the most of the recent snowfall and ski uphill.

Here are places to ski within a 90-minute drive, perfect for a weekend staycation.

Hard’Ack Recreation Area, St. Albans

On Congress Street in St. Albans, Hard’Ack Recreation Area offers cross-country ski trails close to home. When there is enough snow, downhill skiing and snowboarding and sledding are also available.

New for 2021 is a lighted Nordic track. Thanks to a grant from RiseVT, a lighted and groomed Nordic track will be available for night skiing and training on the field area at the bottom of the sledding hill.

Hard’Ack operates solely by donation, so pay what you can to help with upkeep and trail improvements. The snack bar is open most weekends, so stop by for a mid-ski treat and a warm drink.

Hard’Ack is open 3-6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 3-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Arrowhead Golf Course, Milton

For the first time ever, Arrowhead Golf Course is opening its summer trail-running trails for winter activities. The network is open for cross-country skiing as well as walking and snow-shoeing.

All of the trails are ungroomed and wooded. They range from easy, long traverses to more difficult hilly paths. Visitors can purchase a year-long family pass for $25 on Arrowhead’s website or on the Milton Recreation Department’s website. The pass, along with some other coupons will be quickly mailed to you.

Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Craftsbury

In the Northeast Kingdom, Craftsbury Outdoor Center offers 105 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails. The recent snowfall has made the skiing good everywhere, across the forest, farms and fields. Visit 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day.

Per state mandate, visitors to Craftsbury must make a reservation online ahead of time. Day use tickets are available for adults for $10, children and seniors for $5. Purchase an annual membership for your family for $150.

If you don’t have your own equipment, rent a full set up at the Nordic Center for $15. Boots, poles and skis can also be rented separately, and students and seniors can take advantage of discounts. Private lessons are also available.

Due to COVID-19, the Craftsbury ski lodge is closed, so be sure to pack a lunch and prepare your car to act as your home base. Face masks are required at all times.

Catamount Outdoor Center, Williston

Catamount Outdoor Family Center opened in 1978 as a nordic ski center. The center offers a 20-mile network, which extends outward on both sides of Governor Chittenden Road and includes trails of varying difficulty. Ski through beautiful forested areas and wetlands.

Catamount also has a lighted night loop, perfect for an after-work ski. Loops and trails are marked with colored arrows for easy navigation. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, Catamount offers full- and half-day tickets as well as season-long memberships. Full day use adult tickets are $18. When you arrive, visit the Winter Hub to sign in and to rent equipment. Nordic skis are $20 for a full day, but there are half day, youth and night options too.

Jay Peak, Jay

Novices and experts alike will enjoy the groomed trail network at Jay Peak. Twelve miles of trails, ranging from easy to difficult, wind along Little Bear Mountain.

This season, cross-country skiing at Jay Peak is headquartered at Tramside Rental & Repair at the Tram Haus Lodge. That’s where you can pick up a full set of rentals for $25, or just a set of skis, boots or poles. Day tickets can be purchased online for adults for $15 and juniors for $10. Jay also offers group and private lessons if your resolution is to learn or improve.

Written By

Staff Writer

Bridget Higdon is a Staff Writer. She was previously the editor-in-chief of The Vermont Cynic, UVM's independent newspaper. She’s been published in Seven Days, Editor & Publisher and Vermont Vacation Guide. She likes to cook and explore Vermont by bike.

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