An image of Dave skiing deep powder on the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network at Bolton Valley Resort in Vermont

Backcountry

With its northern latitude, prodigious snowfall, and the Green Mountains spanning from Quebec in the north to Massachusetts in the south, Vermont offers virtually limitless opportunities to explore the backcountry in winter on snowshoes, Nordic, Telemark, alpine touring/randonnée, or splitboard equipment.  Elevations in the state range from near sea level in the lowest valleys, to over 4,000 feet atop the highest peaks, and the usual presence of midwinter snowpack at all elevations in the mountainous areas enables a wide variety of ski descents.

A great place to start is with David Goodman’s book, Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont and New York: Classic Ski and Snowboard Tours in Vermont and New York.  This guidebook covers some of the well known tours and descents in Vermont, and exploration on the internet will reveal many more places for touring in the Green Mountains.  Another option is to use the easy backcountry access granted by the Catamount Trail, which runs the entire length of the state.  The trail itself is amenable to various levels of Nordic skiing, and if you are interested in more alpine/descent-oriented touring, simply put on your equipment, follow the trail, and keep your eyes peeled.  It generally won’t take long before you spy something above or below you that will deliver some powder turns.  Since 90% of the Catamount Trail Association’s operating costs are funded by members, becoming a member is a great way to support maintenance of the trail.

Some Northeast Backcountry Skiing Resources:
Nor’Easter Backcountry Blog – Trip Reports
Midnight Modern Conversation – Ski Posts
Vermont Backcountry Alliance

Our Backcountry Ski Trip Reports
The area below contains links to some of our detailed backcountry trip reports from around the northern part of Vermont.  Along with photos, text, and video, the reports typically contain maps created in Google Earth, with major geographical features labeled, and general routes displayed using GPS data obtained during the tour.

Stowe Sidecountry & Bruce Trail, VT 26MAR2017
Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin – Profanity Chute/Hell Brook Trail, VT 19MAR2017
Lincoln Gap, VT 18FEB2017
Ranch Valley & Stowe Cross Country Center, VT 07JAN2017
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 10DEC2016
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 05MAR2016
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 27FEB2016
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT 23JAN2016
Stowe, VT 08MAR2015
Stowe & Bruce Trail, VT 01MAR2015
Lincoln Gap, VT 28FEB2015
Bolton Valley Backcountry & Bolton Notch, VT 15FEB2015
Robbins Mountain & RMWMA, VT 14FEB2015
Bolton Notch, VT 01FEB2015
Dewey Mountain, VT 31JAN2015
Nebraska Valley, VT 25JAN2015
Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT 18JAN2015
Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 17JAN2015
Big Jay Basin, VT 10JAN2015
Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin – Profanity Chute, VT 16MAR2014
Stowe, & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 09MAR2014
Camel’s Hump – Monroe Trail, VT 08MAR2014
Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, VT 16FEB2014
Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry, VT 01FEB2014
Bolton Valley Backcountry, Nordic, and Alpine, VT 26JAN2014
Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 06APR2013
Stowe & Bruce Trail, VT 31MAR2013
Stowe & Bruce Trail, VT 24MAR2013
Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 09MAR2013
Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 02MAR2013
Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 18FEB2013
Bolton Valley and Backcountry, VT 16FEB2013
Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry, VT 27JAN2013
Stowe Sidecountry & Bruce Trail, VT 21JAN2013
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 19JAN2013
Bolton Valley Nordic/Backcountry & Bolton Mountain, VT, Monday 20FEB2012
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Sunday 19FEB2012
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 21JAN2012
Monroe’s Sugarin’, Barton, VT, Saturday 19MAR2011
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Monday 21FEB2011
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 22JAN2011
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Monday 17JAN2011
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 08JAN2011
Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry, VT, Saturday 01JAN2011
Bolton Valley Alpine & Nordic, VT, Saturday 13FEB2010
Bolton Valley Nordic, VT, Saturday 30JAN2010
Bald Hill/Burrows Trail, VT, Saturday 23JAN2010
Camel’s Hump/Monroe Trail, VT, Sunday 17JAN2010
Bolton Valley Alpine & Nordic, VT, Saturday 09JAN2010
Bolton Valley & Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT, Saturday 19DEC2009
Stowe & Mt. Mansfield Chin, VT 25APR2009
Bolton Valley/Backcountry, VT, Sunday 01MAR2009
Bolton Valley/Backcountry, VT, Saturday 14FEB2009
Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT, Saturday 07FEB2009
Waterbury Backcountry, VT, Saturday 17JAN2009
Bolton Valley/Backcountry, VT, Saturday 10JAN2009
Monroe’s Sugarin’, Barton, VT, Saturday 29MAR2008
Waterbury, VT, Saturday 16FEB2008
Waterbury, VT, Sunday 20JAN2008
Robbins Mountain, VT, Saturday 05JAN2008
Bolton Valley/Cotton Brook Area, VT, Saturday 29DEC2007
Waterbury, VT, Sunday 16DEC2007
Bone Mountain/Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT, Sunday 11MAR2007
Pease Mountain, VT, Saturday 03MAR2007
Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT, Sunday 18FEB2007
Bolton Valley Backcountry, VT, Sunday 11FEB2007
Bolton Valley/Cotton Brook Area, VT, Sunday 04FEB2007
Camel’s Hump State Park, VT, Sunday 20JAN2007
Gilpin Mountain, VT, Sunday 18FEB2001
Lowell Mountains, VT, Sunday 20FEB2000
Brownell Mountain Power Line, VT, Tuesday 15FEB2000
Teardrop Trail, VT, Friday 22JAN1999
Stowe, Hourglass Chute, & Hell Brook Trail, VT 22MAR1997
Mt. Philo, VT, Saturday 15FEB1997
Robbins Mountain Power Line, VT, Saturday 30DEC1995

An image of two ski area boundary signs along the Cobrass Trail at Bolton Valley Ski Resort in Vermont

21 thoughts on “Backcountry”

  1. Any tips on backcountry navigating with an iphone (mine is AT&T) or dedicated gps (do not own but would consider buying)? I’d like to try your routes toward Cotton Brook and Goose Pond but don’t want to miss the main trails to climb back. Thanks!

    1. Hi Scott, there’s not really much of a trail down to Goose Pond; I just followed the streambed below the wind turbine to get there, then returned by connecting to the Woodward Mountain Trail. To explore that area, I’d really recommend using the Woodward Mountain Trail and taking mini sojourns off it until you’re comfortable with the lay of the land. Obviously it’s best not to go alone unless you’re really comfortable with the area, so going with experienced partners is the best plan. I’d essentially say the same thing about starting to explore the Cotton Brook area – to become familiar with the area if you’re not out with someone who is already experienced, you can travel on Paradise Pass along the eastern edge of the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry Network. Dropping from there, you can do mini descents off the back side in areas that seem interesting, and you’ll have the backcountry trail network as a reference point for return. Use the Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry map for reference. They have one on the Bolton Valley website, but the most recent one, which has been updated to show the dozens of glades throughout the network, is on the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic & Backcountry website:

      http://boltonfriends.org/map/

      I don’t have a smart phone, but I always have my GPS as well as a compass as backup when I’m out there. If you’ve got a mapping GPS that shows exactly where you are and where you’ve been, that’s a great way to explore the area with an added level of safety (at least with respect to becoming disoriented).

  2. Jay, thanks for the reply. Coincidentally, I just got the following two Facebook posts on Cottonbrook and navigation. which you might be interested in reading. Thanks again!

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));
    Post by Catamount Trail Association.

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));
    Post by Catamount Trail Association.

  3. Hi Scott, I was wondering if you knew of any stores in Burlington that sold AT setups and backcountry skis? I’m down in MA and pretty much nobody carries it. Do you have any favorite bindings/skis?
    Best regards,

    Brian

    1. Scott will probably be able to give you some information as well, but Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington is a great place for alpine touring and backcountry gear in general.

  4. OGE in Burlington is the place. I’ve bought several pairs of skis, telemark bindings and climbing skins from them. Also had them mount bindings on skis. The sales and tech people are very knowledgable and honest ie if they don’t personally know something they will find someone in the store that does. I understand they work on salary not sales commission so there is no pressure. They sell on the internet too so you could check out their web site . They sell new, used and sample/closeouts, so you can get great deals. I’m guessing they are as knowledge about AT as tele. Eastern Mountain Sports in South Burlington, Nordic Barn and Umiak in Stowe are other options. Hope that helps.

  5. Hey there. New to the area. A buddy and myself have been doing some resort skins up but we might have enough snow for the bolton backcountry by the looks of this site. I have a pass to bolton and it seems to be pretty decent right now.

    Does anyone have any coordinates for some glades that I should ski? Or coordinates to Bryant Cabin so I can find things from there?

    Thanks in advance!

    -Rob

    1. Hi Rob, you won’t need any coordinates to find Bryant Cabin, just take the Bryant Trail on the Bolton Backcountry Network (you can find it on the Bolton backcountry trial map) and it leads right to the cabin. On your way up you’ll see a number of obvious glades that descend right back to the Bryant Trail. I was just out there this afternoon and the snow is awesome – plenty of base with about a foot of midwinter powder on top.

  6. Hey Jay. Do you have any recommendations on backcountry spots on Mansfield of Jay for Friday or this weekend? My son and I are in search of some skinning and skiing this weekend. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a ton.

    Mike

    1. Mike, see the response below, but I’ll also mention the Bolton Valley Backcountry Network as an option. They’ve got plenty of moderate terrain that would work well with the potential conditions coming up over the next few days.

  7. Hi J. My son and I are hoping to come up to the Mt Mansfield area on Friday and Saturday for some backcountry skiing. Would so appreciate any information on places you think would be good to go. We are open to anything – wherever there might be snow. Love your site and the information. Images and videos are epic.

    1. Hi Mike, since we just had a warm storm over the past couple of days, you’ll want to keep low angle/high elevation spots in mind to make the best use of the back end snow that’s expected to hit the area tonight. In the Jay region a place that comes to mind would be the Gilpin Mountain area off the pass of Route 242 – you’ll see a report down near the bottom of my backcountry reports. For the Mansfield area, Route 108 through Smuggler’s Notch could be an option. These passes aren’t extremely high in elevation, but they’ll have some potential terrain that could work – there’s just typically not enough low angle terrain up near the peaks that would work with the snow amounts we’re expected to get.

  8. Hey J – thanks a ton. I am thinking Bolton might be the way to go. We have never been there before and it makes a lot of sense based on what you relayed. I do not know this area at all and will look at some of your reports, but are there trails and glades you would recommend. We are experienced skiers and backcountry skiers, but know nothing of this area. Again, totally appreciate all your help. I will be skinning and Keghan will be snowshoeing.

  9. On the Bolton Backcountry Network I’d say start with the Bryant Trail up to Bryant Cabin – it’s a very prominent route and you’ll be able to see plenty of glades on the network that drop right back down to the trail from the right side. Lots of people simply do laps right there. We were up today and the powder was pretty nice about ~2,400’; in terms of powder I’d say there’s roughly 2-3” at 2,100’ and 4-5” at 2,700’ up at the cabin from the back side of Winter Storm Petros. If you’re heading out tomorrow I’d say look into Jay Peak because it sounds like they might do well with snow from tonight’s system.

    1. Hey J. We had a really fun day on Friday, 2-26. Totally had the trails to ourselves. We hiked up the Bryant Trail to Bryant Cabin. Skied and couple of the glades and came down Gardiners. Then back up Gardiners past the cabin up to Birch Loop, to Raven’s Wind to George’s Gorge to Cliff Hanger to Possum to Bryant. We definitely did a lot of skinning and loved every bit of it. The skiing was fun and the trails totally great other than a few hazards along George’s Gorge. We definitely have found a new spot that is worth a trek from the NH Seacoast. Thanks for all the tips. Next trip up, we want to spend some time around Paradise Pass. Also, would like to find the two trails/glades you mentioned in your latest report (which are not on the map we have nor did we find) – Gotham City and Grizzwald. Thanks again Jay and glad you got out with your crew on Saturday.

      1. Mike, Bolton may not have those glades on the current backcountry map, but they’ve had them on some previous versions. Go to our Bolton Valley Backcountry report from yesterday and scroll to the bottom, I just added one of the other versions of the map to the image gallery that shows those glades on it. Glad you had fun – you’re basically experiencing the network right now with record low snowpack, so you can imagine what it’s typically like out there!

        1. Thanks Jay. Will keep an eye on your page with the hopes that snow will be prevalent in VT and we will be back a few more times before Spring.

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Vermont Skiing & Winter Weather