By Emily Hamilton, @wanderful_em

nordic skiing in vermont

As we enter this new year with news that the pandemic isn’t going anywhere quite yet, we find ourselves looking to Mother Nature to provide us with outdoor entertainment for another stretch of social distancing. For me, learning that many alpine resorts are unable to operate at full capacity had me picking my brain for other ways to enjoy our snowy state.

Cue, nordic skiing. The sport is booming in popularity, as it seems to have the perfect approach to everything my partner and I are looking for this winter season: outdoors, distance from others, and close to home! The new perfect trifecta for snow enthusiasts like us. We decided to take the jump into the world of nordic and we’re already loving it as novice skiers.

For starters, this new hobby proved to be fairly accessible! There are relatively low entry fees for equipment and passes alike. Personally, we used a combination of local craigslist finds, ski swap events, and second hand sporting stores like Play It Again Sports to piece together our gear for the trail. We clocked in under $250 for poles, skis, boots and new mountings for us both.

Similarly, accessing nordic ski centers close to Burlington has been a breeze. Learning this information was especially exciting to us, as we typically travel about an hour for a day of alpine skiing.

Vermont is known globally for being a nordic skier’s paradise and offers top ranking nordic trails throughout the state. Many of Vermont’s alpine resorts also have excellent cross-country centers - Bolton Valley, Smuggler’s Notch and Jay Peak to name a few - but we discovered there are many choices close to home too! Burlington and the surrounding area offer countless options for nordic skiing, but here are just 5 nearby options we scoped out that you should consider:


Intervale Center - Burlington

This free and close to home option is a fantastic option for beginners! With miles of both groomed and ungroomed trails, we enjoyed a mostly flat adventure along the picturesque Winooski River and through fields of snow.

Catamount Family Center - Williston

Rent or bring your own skis to this never ending maze of trails! Groomed for both classical and skating techniques, you’ll have plenty of options for a day in the snow. Can’t make it until after work? No problem, Catamount Center offers a lighted night skiing loop!

Trapp Family Lodge - Stowe

For a premium skiing experience, stop by Trapp Family Lodge for a perfect winter day. We were impressed with 99 miles of groomed and backcountry trails alike. I really got to practice some hills and turns here! Don’t worry, there are plenty of more even trails should you not be ready to take on a climb.

Gilbrook Nature Area - Winooski

The City of Winooski has partnered with the Catamount Trail Association to offer free nordic skiing in our very own Gilbrook Nature Area! If you’re not quite sure nordic skiing is for you, drop by the Nature Area on any Saturday to trial a free rental session.

Sleepy Hollow Nordic Center - Huntington

Sleepy Hollow features 35km of well-groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing including a 2km loop with snowmaking featured solar powered snow guns! They also have a complete lineup of ski and snowshoe rentals for small children and adults. If you’re there, be sure to check out Butternut Cabin, which has an amazing view of Camel’s Hump!


One of the biggest benefits of skiing close to home is that we have been able to get out more frequently and consistently. For beginners like me, practice makes perfect! Starting a new sport can be nerve wracking, but I’ve come to find that cross country skiing has given us a warm welcome. Literally, you’ll be sweating within the first 10 minutes!

If you’re looking to get outside, get some exercise and get excited about winter (even in a pandemic) give nordic a try. It’s old school for some, but taking on a whole new meaning this winter. Get ahead of the curve and get out on the trails, you won’t regret that feel good soreness after a day out gliding in the scenic Vermont wilderness. We surely didn’t!