Stowe, Vermont
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The Stowe GlobeA Land of Winter Wonders

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Stowe Honors
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Stowe is known as the 'Ski Capital of the East,' and is also a charming winter destination for non-skiers.

Stowe is known as the "Ski Capital of the East," and is also a charming winter destination for non-skiers.

“First of all, living in Stowe is like living in a snow globe. The village is idyllic, almost movie set worthy. I appreciate that many of my views around town are postcard perfect.
— Ryan Thibault, owner, Mountain Bike Vermont

When it’s cold outside, Stowe is the place to be for snowy splendor.

Discerning reality from a dream can be difficult when you venture into the winter world of Stowe, Vermont. As the stars make their final glimmers over snowy peaks, snowshoes shush through powdery meadows, skis track silently through glade and glen, and breath turns to vapor in crisp winter air, you may ask: “Am I really here? Or is it a dream?”

Stowe is known as the 'Ski Capital of the East,' and is also a charming winter destination for non-skiers.
Stowe is known as the "Ski Capital of the East," and is also a charming winter destination for non-skiers.

In Stowe, you can make a rendezvous with winter the way it’s meant to be. Adventures in the shadow of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest peak, and on its unique mile-long ridgeline. Open fires in cozy farmhouses transformed into ski lodges warm body and spirit. The quaint, steepled village (where local schools close on Friday afternoons so that schoolchildren can head to the snow blanketed mountain) welcomes family and friends to connect while enjoying world-class food and drink. Life here is a picture-perfect postcard. But it’s real—right down to the very last turn, bite, sip and snowflake. 

“The combined trails of Trapp Family Lodge, Mansfield Touring Center, Catamount, VAST trails and endless other backcountry possibilities make Stowe a nordic nexus!”
– Ryan Kerrigan, guide, coach and instructor
People come from around the world to experience skiing and snowboarding on Mt. Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont

People come from around the world to experience Stowe’s winter.

“One of Stowe’s best kept secrets are the networks of fat bike single track trails hidden around the area. There is nothing like getting out there when the conditions are perfect and riding nice flowy, snowy, single track.”
– Ken Haggett, owner, Peace Pups Dogsledding

Skiing & Snowboarding

Slice through pristine powder fields on a peak that averages more than 300 inches of snow annually; carve turns on groomers made perfect by a snowmaking and grooming team called “outstanding” by snow gun manufacturer HKD and Ski Area Management magazine; venture off into hidden glades, secret chutes and sidecountry stashes that empty into Smugglers’ Notch, the famous route for rum runners during Prohibition; and share the spirit of the outdoors in wintertime with friends and family. Decade after decade, people continue to travel here to create mountain memories on the slopes of Vermont’s highest mountain.

Nordic Skiing

“Nordic skiing is an aerobic sport that is very meditative,” says endurance coach, guide and instructor Ryan Kerrigan. “There’s a fluidity and peace in every stride. Nordic skiing takes you away from the busy roads and lifts to where you can find your own winter paradise.”

Between the two world-class Nordic Centers and countless other lodges that offer Nordic trails, there is a vast and diverse network of cross-country trails in which to wander, explore and recharge. And, there’s no one to disturb you except for the squirrels and sparrows.

Stowe is known as the 'Ski Capital of the East,' and is also a charming winter destination for non-skiers.
People come from around the world to experience Stowe’s winter.

Fat Biking

“Let me set the stage,” says Ryan Thibault, owner of Mountain Bike Vermont, an events promoter, online magazine and apparel business in Stowe. “The trails have been packed and are running ultra smooth. Morning comes and there is one inch of super light fluff. You roll along with ease in muffled silence laying fresh tracks on a fat bike. That is a dream come true that I've experienced many times!”

Fat biking, which is mountain biking on a bicycle with wide tires to easily pedal across snow, is arguably the best way to experience a Stowe winter on wheels. Trails are accessible, maintained by local volunteers, completely free. Many of the trails that fat bikers ride are the same trails they ride in the summer, and the network leads directly to the village, the local bike shops and many favorite après haunts.

Take a dogsledding tour in Stowe, Vermont.

Merckx // Sled dog

Winter favorite // Running on my favorite trails with my brothers and sisters

“I love the cool weather, the red squirrels, and all of the people who come to visit me, pet me and bring me treats! When I’m asleep and my paws are twitching, that’s what I’m dreaming about.”

An extensive network of snowmobile trails criss crosses Stowe, Vermont.

Cindy Locke // Executive Director, Vermont Association for Snow Travelers

Winter favorite // Snowmobiling in Cotton Brook, Brownsville and Sterling Valley

“Going on a snowmobile tour is a great way to get out and experience Stowe.”

Dogsledding

Merckx, of Peace Pups Dogsledding, recently described the winters here in five words: “Snow, chipmunk, biscuits, snow and food.” Please, keep in mind: Merckx is a sled dog—a Siberian husky, to be exact. However, what he and his human Ken Haggett know is that the wind in your face, the enthusiasm of eight animals doing what they love, and the surprising speeds at which they go, ignites excitement. “There isn’t anything I enjoy more than being outside in the winter with a group of my best canine friends,” says Ken. “The dogs’ love of running and the cold is infectious, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in that when you’re with them.”

Take a dogsledding tour in Stowe, Vermont.

Merckx // Sled dog

Winter favorite // Running on my favorite trails with my brothers and sisters

“I love the cool weather, the red squirrels, and all of the people who come to visit me, pet me and bring me treats! When I’m asleep and my paws are twitching, that’s what I’m dreaming about.”

Ice Fishing

Under the frozen sheet of ice atop a lake or pond, Northern pike, landlocked salmon and trout are still swimming strong. Local outfitters know the best spots and can help you jig or tip-up a hearty catch. Patience is key, waiting for that tug on the other end. And when it comes, you spring into action, pulling it in. Your patience is rewarded.

An extensive network of snowmobile trails criss crosses Stowe, Vermont.

Cindy Locke // Executive Director, Vermont Association for Snow Travelers

Winter favorite // Snowmobiling in Cotton Brook, Brownsville and Sterling Valley

“Going on a snowmobile tour is a great way to get out and experience Stowe.”

Snowmobiling

It’s amazing how many miles you can cover, how many different views of Mount Mansfield you can take in, and how many deserted stands of maples and birches you can zoom through in Stowe. For beginners, there are guided tours and opportunities for instruction. For the more experienced, the sky is the limit. When she’s not overseeing snowmobiling recreation across the state, Cindy Locke loves riding her machine on the 5,000-mile statewide VAST trail network.

But no matter how much ground you cover, the quaint village won’t move at all; it will be waiting for you when you return with hot cocoa, crackling logs on the fire and plenty of friends with whom to share the highlights of the day’s ride.

“Stowe in general is special because of the small village atmosphere, the warm friendly people, the slower pace, the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, the spas and the restaurants. It’s simple and easy here.”
– Susan Rousselle, President of Stowe Weekend of Hope
Après ski in Stowe, Vermont tastes best with a local craft beer

Après ski in Stowe tastes best with good friends and a local craft beer.

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Skating rink at night during Christmas in Stowe, Vermont

Sleigh Rides & Ice Skating

What is more seasonal than riding through the woods on a horse-drawn sleigh? Or skating on the outdoor rink at Spruce Peak while snowflakes gently fall from above? These are scenes in holiday carols and Christmas movies, but in Stowe it’s a reality. Stowe Arena also hosts hockey leagues, figure skating groups, as well as public skating sessions in its state-of-the-art arena.

Winter Zip Lining

If your winter dream includes flying through a hemlock forest over a span of 800 feet at speeds of 35 miles per hour, then zip lining is for you. At ArborTrek in Smugglers’ Notch, the standard canopy tour includes no fewer than eight zips and two suspension bridges. The views of Mansfield, Madonna Mountain and the Notch are stunning, as are the silence, solitude and majesty of the forest all around. Take in the scene or chat with your guide between zips. Before you know it, you’re up, and once again flying past branches covered with rime ice and sparkling snow crystals.

Après ski in Stowe, Vermont tastes best with a local craft beer
Après ski in Stowe tastes best with good friends and a local craft beer.

Après, Arts & Craft Beer

There is a reason why non-skiers keep coming back to this traditionally ski town.

It’s spending a day at one of the many spas: watching the snow fall outside while lying in a hot tub then wrapping yourself in a luxurious robe, or relaxing on a heated massage table. “The spas in Stowe are unique in that they embrace their surrounding and highlight the nature in both their settings and in the treatments they offer,” says Stowe Weekend of Hope president, Susan Rousselle.

It’s visiting one of the numerous galleries, performing arts centers or museums in town: attending a classical theater production, listening to an orchestra, wandering through unique exhibits and shopping for intriguing wares. Artists and craftspeople find inspiration in the mountain setting and natural surroundings, creating a dynamic and diverse culture. It may be a small town, but the arts are thriving with a palpable energy, much like you would find in a metropolitan area.

It’s also enjoying world-class eateries that feature locally-sourced meat and farm-to-table vegetables, and gathering with friends at a myriad of après-ski hangouts.

And, it’s the craft beer. You’ll notice locals taking a “localvore” approach to their beers, and for good reason. The brewers at The Alchemist (maker of the locally famous Heady Topper IPA), Trapp Brewing Company (specializing in Austrian lagers and pilsners) and IdleTyme Brewing (expert at pairing beer with exquisite cuisine) are artists in their own ways. And as Esbert Cardenas, a local beer enthusiast and owner of Image Outfitters, has discovered, “Hunting down beers you are looking for is half the fun, but what is really amazing is chatting with the diverse group of individuals who are in the business. Go visit them, and you will understand.”

Stowe may be quintessential small-town Vermont, but it’s big on culture, great food and beer and, of course, snow with ambiance abound. What does your winter dream look like? Make it come true by planning your winter getaway.

By Mark Aiken | Video by Mark Vandenberg