This season, 2021-22, Vermont Ski + Ride took a page from our sister publication, Vermont Sports, and sent out the Black Diamond Reader Survey. The survey asked readers to rate the best ski areas in Vermont in 14 categories, including Best Overall, Best to Avoid Crowds, Best Snowmaking/Grooming, Toughest Trail, Best Ski Bar, Best Ski Town and more. (Scroll down for links to all categories.)
Here’s what our readers said were the
BEST CROSS-COUNTRY SKI AREAS
Unless you are a member of the Hollenbach family (see page 64), chances are you don’t take advantage of using a season pass from one of the 23 cross-country ski areas that are members of Ski Vermont to ski at another. But you should, because each part of Vermont has something to offer those on skinny skis.
For our survey, we asked readers to name their favorite areas, by region. Overall, the Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center got the most votes of any ski area in the state. It’s not hard to understand why. Trapp’s 40 miles of beautifully groomed trails wind in and out of forests, across high open meadows with views of the Worcester range and south to Sugarbush and past the classic chalet-style lodge hotel. Ski 6 km uphill to Slayton Pasture Cabin for a cup of hot soup by the fire, or cruise the perimeter of the ski area, stopping in at the von Trapp Bierhall for a cold Helles (brewed on site) and a schnitzel. At Trapp’s, you’ll see both top-level skate skiers flying by and families trying out the rental equipment for the first time.
In the north, Trapp’s edged out Craftsbury Outdoor Center and Bolton Valley Resort’s Nordic center, which earned second and third.
In central Vermont, the competition was tight between Ripton’s Rikert Nordic Center, Ole’s/Blueberry Lake in Warren and the Woodstock Inn Nordic Center. The top ranked ski area, Rikert, which is part of Middlebury College’s classic Breadloaf Campus, has one of the best snowmaking systems of any Nordic ski area, a network that includes open meadows, narrow woods trails and adventurous routes that lead to the cabin where Robert Frost stayed while teaching at Middlebury College.
Southern Vermont’s favorites Wild Wings in Peru, Prospect in Woodford and Stratton Mountain’s Nordic trails have been practice sites for Olympians such as Andy Newell (Prospect) and Sophie Caldwell (Wild Wings) and Jessie Diggins (Stratton). Prospect Mountain, which is situated at a base elevation of 2,250 is actually the highest cross-country center in Vermont and gets snow when many other areas don’t. Wild Wings has fun trails with 25K groomed for classic, 10K for skating and a yoga studio on site. Stratton has just 10K of groomed trails but located just off the alpine slopes, it’s a convenient place to get in a cardio workout after a morning of downhill.
NORTH: 1. Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center, 2. Craftsbury Outdoor Center, 3. Bolton Valley Nordic Center.
CENTRAL: 1. Rikert Nordic Center, 2. Ole’s/Blueberry Lake, 3. Woodstock Inn
SOUTH: 1. Wild Wings, Peru. 2. Prospect Mountain, Woodford, 3. Stratton
Opening photo: Cross country at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. Courtesy photo.