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Embracing the Backcountry: Uphill Routes and Events at Vermont Resorts

Bolton Valley backcountry
Off piste at Sugarbush Resort
Tearing up pow in the Bolton Valley backcountry
In the glades at Middlebury College Snow Bowl

As backcountry skiing interest and participation grows nationally, Vermont resorts explore ways to service the uphill traveler and adventurer with new or revised uphill policies, backcountry events, and increased access to gladed terrain.

Experiencing the backcountry in Vermont: Programs, Access and Gladed Terrain

Bolton Valley

Bolton Valley is unique in the fact that the area boasts over 1200 acres of backcountry terrain. 100 kilometers of trails wind through the land and experienced adventurer are sure to find untouched powder stashes days after a storm. The land can be traveled on snowshoes, skis or splitboards. Backcountry enthusiasts can start right from the Nordic Center or ride the Wilderness lift and access it from Wilderness Peak.

Bromley Mountain

During the Winter 2014/15 Season, the Ski & Snowboard School debuted a backcountry specific program for the JETS. This adventurous group of 12 to 14 year olds had the opportunity to focus not only on skiing or riding in the woods, but to expand skills and techniques needed for successful trips into the backcountry. They spent time learning how to navigate with map and compass, and GPS. They learned about gear required for skinning or climbing to the tops of peaks, as well as what they’d need to camp out in the winter environment. A large emphasis was also be placed on teambuilding and camaraderie. Check out the link for a quick look at what they were up to last season:

Okemo Mountain Resort

A selection of Alpine Touring skis, climbing skins and AT boots are available for rent during operating hours at the Okemo Clock Tower Base Lodge location.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

At Smugglers’ Notch Resort, there are over 750 acres of all-access terrain to explore between trails. Skiers and snowboards can explore anywhere within the ski area boundaries, with exits and returns on open trails. 22 marked glades serve every ability level, from the beginner Whitetail Woods at Morse Highlands to the East’s only triple black diamond, The Black Hole. The Black Hole offers extreme terrain at its finest: steeps, cliffs and moguls threaded through the snowy woods, with the top 600 feet of this 1600 foot trail pitched at a 65 to 70 percent grade. The Resort's total gladed area encompasses over 45 acres and 22 percent of the total skiable and patrolled area, offering skiers and riders plenty of mountain terrain to explore.

Stowe Mountain Resort

Saturday Night Lights: During the 2014-2015 Season, Stowe Mountain Resort debuted a series of Saturday night events for all-terrain-skiers who crave the invigorating and aerobic experience of skinning uphill. Utilizing the top-to-bottom lighting on their Gondolier trail, the events entailed up to 100 skiers traveling uphill after-hours, with a downhill run and party in the Midway Base Lodge.

This winter’s series will culminate on March 26, 2016 with the Race to the Top of Vermont.
All terrain skiers race uphill on Stowe’s famous Gondolier trail, as they ‘skin-to-win’ the first annual title.

Stratton Mountain Resort

Venture off the groomers and into the forest, where at Stratton you can explore 160 acres of gladed terrain. With tree trails ranging from green circle to black diamond, test skills on the trails with the most untouched powder on the whole resort. Stay fit off skis with one of Stratton’s guided snowshoe hikes to the famous fire tower, which sits on the intersection of the Appalachian and Long Trails. A short hike from Stratton’s summit with friends, family and a knowledgeable guide lends breathtaking 360-degree views of the Taconic and Adirondack mountains.

Sugarbush Resort

For those looking for guided skinning trips, Sugarbush offers Tour De Moon events throughout the season where guests can skin partially up Mt. Ellen and ski down under moonlight. Dinner is also provided. The resort also boasts over 2000 acres of backcountry terrain in Slide Brook Basin, located between Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen.


Get a Workout: Uphill Travel Policies at Vermont Resorts

Bolton Valley - The mountain is home to two uphill travel routes on the alpine terrain. These routes are open to anyone during non-operating hours, during regular operating hours uphill travelers need a Nordic ticket or lift ticket to access the uphill routes.

Bromley Mountain - Abbreviated Uphill policy: Bromley does not restrict uphill access during normal operating hours, but does request that uphill travelers keep activity to trail edges. All access outside of normal operating hours is prohibted in recognition of the real danger of skiing in poor lighting conditions, and on trails with ongoing grooming and snowmaking.

Killington Resort & Pico Mountain - Killington Resort and Pico Mountain at Killington welcome winter uphill travel enthusiasts. In order to help provide an enjoyable and orderly experience for both uphill and downhill guests on a 24/7 basis, all uphill travelers are required to follow resort rules, including the best practices outlined at, including designated routes and credentials.

Mad River Glen - Skinning is permitted prior to opening and after the lifts have closed each day. Climbing skiers and are not permitted to travel up the trails at Mad River Glen when the lifts are in operation (9 to 4 midweek and 8:30 to 4 on weekends).Mad River Glen also has an extensive network of snowshoe trails on the mountain.

Middlebury College Snow Bowl - The Snow Bowl uphill travel policy will change for the ’15-’16 season an uphill route will be established and can be accessed and used during operating hours. Visit the website for contact information or check in upon arrival.

Mount Snow Resort - Guests can purchase an uphill travel day ticket or season pass, and season passholders receive complimentary uphill travel season passes. Uphill travel is permitted from dawn to dusk and only on open terrain.

Okemo Mountain Resort - Okemo and the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks encourage the use of public lands with a goal to do so safely. During operating hours, uphill travel is limited to beginner and intermediate terrain. Hikers must keep to the edge of the trail in a single-file line. Access to lifts and terrain parks is reserved for ticket holders and Okemo urges all guests to adhere to the skier responsibility code. With grooming, snowmaking and other operations taking place around the clock, Okemo advises against the use of terrain during non-operational times.

Q Burke Mountain Resort - Q Burke Mountain Resort embraces an adventurous spirit, which is why for the 2015-16 ski season they allow and encourage alpine touring during both operational and non-operational hours.  Uphill travelers must simply follow a few rules outlined on  While the ski resort is in operation, there are three established uphill routes to follow, after hours.

Sugarbush Resort - Sugarbush permits hiking and skinning on the mountain before and after operating hours. There are designated routes at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, with specific routes based on whether it’s morning or evening.

For other uphill policies (nationwide), visit

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