SkiVT Press Room/

Uphill Travel and Backcountry Policies at Vermont Ski Areas

A skier climbs high into the backcountry at Bolton Valley Resort. (Photo by Adam DesLauriers)

Vermont resorts continue to expand the boundaries of skiing and snowboarding, and their visitors continue to do the same: Sidecountry/backcountry and ski touring are some of the fastest growing segments of the sports—especially in recent seasons—as more and more participants discover the joys of venturing out into the great, often-untracked beyond.

Resorts are embracing this trend by putting glades and other prime tree skiing terrain on their trail maps, and enacting policies for uphill travel and sidecountry/backcountry access and enjoyment. Some even offer guided forays beyond traditional area boundaries.

Take a look at what lies beyond the ropes at your favorite Vermont ski resort:

Killington: Uphill Travel at both Killington and Pico continue to increase in popularity with guests choosing to reach the peaks of Bear Mountain, Snowdon, Ramshead and Pico via human vs. machine power. With designated routes for each mountain area and 24/7 access (when designed routes are open) Killington and Pico offer plenty of options to make turns regardless the time of day. Guests must wear an arm band, available for a one-time fee (or free for passholders). Killlington also offers uphill clinincs at Pico Mountain throughout the season. Killington's Uphill Policy.

Mad River Glen: Skinning is permitted to anyone outside of operational hours, but uphill travelers must leave the base area at least 45 minutes before scheduled lift operations. Descents must begin by the time lifts are scheduled to open, and uphill travelers must obey all trail closures. During operational hours uphill travel is only permitted for passholders and shareholders on a designated route. Mad River Glen’s Uphill Policy

Smugglers’ Notch: At Smugglers’, health and safety are top priorities. Locals love taking advantage of the spectacular nighttime views off Madonna Summit and the physical challenge of trekking uphill to reach it. Uphill travel is allowed during times outlined specifically to each mountain, but never during the hours of lift operations (for guest safety and the safety of the hard-working operations team). It is important to remember there are no rescue services available outside of lift operation hours.Smugglers' Notch's Uphill Policy.

Stratton: Stratton welcomes uphill travel on designated routes during operating hours. Please stay on skier’s left of all trails, wear brightly colored reflective clothing, keep all pets on a leash and only stop in an area where you are not obstructing a trail, and are visible from above. Stratton's Uphill Policy

Saskadena Six: Saskadena Six Ski Area offers the Uphill Travel Season Pass for $59 (Proceeds of the pass are donated to the local Woodstock Ski Runners program to support “learn-to” programming). Uphill access is included with the purchase of a Saskadena Six Season Pass. Uphill travel is permitted on operating and non-operating days, 24/7, and uphill travelers are required to follow resort rules and best practices. Saskadena Six’s Uphill Policy 

Okemo: Okemo and the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks encourage the use of public lands and Okemo is committed to doing so while maintaining their commitment to safety and the overall guest experience. With snowmaking (and other operations) taking place 24 hours a day, it is the visitors responsibility to confirm what routes are open by calling the Uphill Travel Hotline at (802) 228-1491.  

Okemo permits uphill access outside of resort operating hours, however access is not permitted until the first day of operation and may not begin until 30 minutes following closure of the last lift of the day. All uphill users must begin their return to base no later than 15 minutes prior to opening for the first lift of the day. Join Okemo’s mailing list by sending an email to Okemo’s Uphill Policy

Magic: Magic has an open uphill skiing policy with people accessing the mountain for recreational purposes, the only exception being on official “powder days” (when Magic receives 6” or more of new snow) when uphill traffic may not access the mountain until the lift spins at 9am, along with the general skiing public. Uphill skiers reaching the top when Magic is open may receive a token for one free chairlift ride from the Red Lift top shack attendant. Uphill traffic must stick to sides of trails when accessing the mountain and must yield to all downhill traffic and must adhere to any trail closures. Any dogs accompanying snowshoe uphillers must be on a leash to protect other skiers/riders, and no dogs are allowed to run free on the mountain when the ski area is open.

Uphill skiers should never access the mountain alone when it is closed and never ski any glades or backcountry alone. Any rescue mission costs for backcountry or side country will be the responsibility of the uphiller. Uphillers assume their own risk in accessing Magic Mountain and Magic Mountain bears no liability for any injuries or accidents. Magic Mountain’s Uphill Policy

Mount Snow: Mount Snow Resort, the State of Vermont and the United States Forest Service encourage outdoor recreation and the use of public lands, especially skinning or hiking though the natural beauty of the mountains. Uphill Travel is permitted during operating hours on the designated route for travel both uphill and downhill—Canyon to High Traverse to Cascade, which extends from the base of the Canyon Express (Lift 9) to the summit. Other than these trails, all trails are closed and inaccessible to uphill travel. Prior to heading uphill, call the Mount Snow Uphill Hotline at (802) 339-8474. Mount Snow’s Uphill Policy

Sugarbush: Sugarbush has expanded its uphill travel policy to include designated routes open both during and outside of operating hours. At Lincoln Peak, multiple designated routes exist outside of operating hours based on time. Mt. Ellen offers a route open 24/7 to the mid-mountain Glen House. Uphill travel is free at the resort. In between Sugarbush’s two mountains exists the Slide Brook Basin, which offers excellent backcountry skiing. Sugarbush offers guided tours through the Ski & Ride School. Sugarbush’s uphill Policy

Bolton: Bolton Valley offers the only in-house backcountry-specific guiding and instructional program in North America, complete with top-of-the-line rental and demo equipment. With its extensive and easily accessible wilderness terrain, Bolton’s backcountry and uphill touring options make it the go-to destination for skiers and riders looking to explore beyond lift service. Bolton Valley’s Uphill Policy

Jay Peak: Jay Peak’s Uphill Policy allows individuals to climb the mountain using skins or snowshoes via either of the designated Uphill Routes marked on the trail map. An Uphill Travel Pass ($50) gets skiers and riders access to Jay’s Uphill Routes, which are open only during operational hours. Night operations create a terrain of moving parts—from winch cats and groomers to snowmobiles and snowmaking equipment—which change location daily (which is why Uphill Travel at night or outside of operational hours is not recommended). Jay Peak’s Uphill Policy 

Middlebury Snowbowl: Middlebury Snowbowl’s Uphill Policy

Stowe: Stowe’s Uphill Access Policy


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