Northern & Central Vermont Snowshoeing Trails

Snowshoeing is the ultimate escape, no matter the economic climate. Once you have your shoes, the sport is free. There are no expensive lift tickets, no parking fees, no admission prices. Just head off into the woods. But, it helps to know where to go. Here’s an insider’s list of trails and places to go snowshoeing in central and northern Vermont.

snowshoe tracks towards lighthouse under blue sky

A snowshoer heads towards the lighthouse in Burlington, near Lake Champlain. Photo: LEXPIX via Shutterstock

Causeway: Colchester, VT

What it is: The Colchester Causeway is an old railroad bed that juts out into Lake Champlain from Colchester toward South Hero. The railroad has been long abandoned, and the town of Colchester now maintains the Causeway as a recreation trail. Start at Airport Park, snowshoe on an elevated track past some swampy forests, and emerge onto the wide-open Causeway.

Why it’s cool: The Causeway offers sweeping, dramatic views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains off to the west, the Green Mountains to the east. Wintertime brings dramatic winter clouds overhead, interesting ice patterns on the lake, and maybe some visits with ice fishing enthusiasts. If the lake ice is thick, you can also go off the Causeway and explore the lake or nearby Law Island to explore abandoned camps and the woods on the small island.

Degree of difficulty: Pretty easy – The trail has only about 100 feet of gain, so fairly flat. The pathway is about 6 feet wide.

Drawbacks: Prepare and dress for strong winds sweeping across the lake. Sometimes the wind blows the snow off the Causeway, making for iffy snowshoeing. Also, in recent years, low elevations in Vermont, like the Causeway, have been subject to midwinter thaws that erase the snow cover.

More information: Town of Colchester Vermont

After trip treat: Buy a pie at Dick Mazza’s General Store, East Lakeshore Drive, Colchester. They’re the best.

Ethan Allen Homestead/Burlington Intervale: Burlington, VT

What it is: The trails through Ethan Allen Homestead and the Intervale take you through the floodplain near where the Winooski River empties into Lake Champlain.

Why it’s cool: The well-maintained trails take you through open fields, past marshes, and beneath towering swamp maples. Explore and follow the many animal tracks.

Drawbacks: Low elevation means winter thaws can destroy snow cover.

Degree of Difficulty: Multiple trails are available and all a mile or less. It’s easy snowshoeing. Bring the kids.

More info: Explore the Ethan Allen Homestead Property and trail map. Or, explore the trails at the Intervale, near the property.  The homestead is part of the Winooski Valley Park District network of trails, all of which are open to snowshoers and worth exploring.

After trip treat: Hoist one of several excellent beers at the Vermont Pub and Brewery, 144 College St., Burlington.

snowshoeing trails in Vermont: snowshoers on the Missisquoi Rail Trail

Snowshoers enjoying the Missisquoi Rail Trail in Franklin County.

 

Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail: Franklin County, VT

What it is: A recreation trail on a former railroad bed through northwestern Vermont farmland, extending 26.4 miles between St. Albans and Richford, VT.

Why it’s cool: The trail has beautiful farm scenery with views of the northern Green Mountains. It doubles as a snowmobile trail, so the snow is packed down. You may not even need snowshoes.

Drawbacks: It’s part of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers trail network, which means snowmobiles frequently zoom by. Watch out.

Degree of difficulty: The trail is 10 feet across with a maximum grade of 3%. The total trail is over 26 miles, but you can complete the trail in shorter sections. So, not bad at all.

More info: Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail

After trip treat:  Try the Belfry Restaurant, Route 242, Montgomery Center.

Read More: Vermont’s Trail Running Aplenty

Catamount Trail: Length of VT

What it is: The Catamount Trail is a 300-mile cross country ski and snowshoe trail that runs north to south over the length of Vermont. It is said to be North America’s longest backcountry ski trail.

Why it’s cool: The trail covers a wide variety of terrain, from steep mountains to easy, flat woods. It connects with inns, cross-country touring centers, and other attractions. The Catamount Trail Association has a variety of special programs throughout the winter. Snowshoe a small section of the trail, or try doing it end-to-end during the course of the winter.

Drawbacks: Hard to choose which section to try. Depending on where you are located, there are over 31 sections on the trail.

Degree of difficulty: Varies widely depending on the section.

More info: Catamount Trail Association

After trip treat: Your options are limitless since the trail spans the entirety of Vermont.

Read More: The Catamount Trail Vermont: A Destination Snowshoers Can Be Proud Of

snowshoeing trails in Vermont: Camel's Hump from a distance, Vermont

The snow-covered Camel’s Hump from a distance. Photo: Vermontalm via Shutterstock

Camels Hump: Huntington/Duxbury, VT

What it is: Vermont’s only 4,000+ peak that has not been developed into a ski resort.

Why it’s cool: Various trails take you to the summit of the peak. A good trail starts on the Huntington side of the mountain, taking you through a forest of sugar maples, which transitions to beech, birch, fir, and finally, near the summit, Arctic tundra. Look for animal tracks on the way up the trail. You’re rewarded with spectacular, panoramic views at the summit.

Degree of difficulty: A real workout to the summit. However, there are three viewing areas from the Duxbury side of the trail that offers an easy view of the summit and is an option for kiddos.

Drawbacks: Parts of it are steep, and the wind at the summit can be fierce.

More info: Vermont State Parks

After trip treat: Kitchen Table Bistro, 1840 West Main St., Richmond, Vt. Awesome food, popular place.

Underhill State Park

What it is: The west slope of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s tallest mountain has an extensive network of snowshoeing trails.

Why it’s cool: The park is on the undeveloped side of Mount Mansfield. The other side is Stowe Mountain Resort. The park has a network of trails, many leading to the mountain’s summit. Part of the thrill is watching people who have hiked up tree ski on the steep, rocky slopes.

Degree of difficulty: Depending on the trail, it can leave you breathless. Trails range from 1-2 miles, but since cliff views are available, trails range from easy to very difficult.

Drawbacks: Lots of trails. Be careful not to get lost. Also, it can be windy and cold at the summit. Make sure to dress appropriately.

More info: Vermont State Parks and trail map for Underhill State Park

After trip treats: Snowflake Chocolates –  Visit the factory store and replenish yourself with this really excellent chocolate.

A view of Mt. Mansfield. The trails of Underhill State Park lie on the undeveloped side of the mountain. Photo: Cvernet Photography via Shutterstock

Little River State Park, Waterbury, VT

What it is: Mostly forestland surrounding Waterbury Reservoir.

Why it’s cool: Explore old cellar holes, cemeteries, the remains of orchards from a village abandoned to make room for a flood control dam built in the 1930s. Nice forestland, too, and you can also explore the frozen surface of Waterbury Reservoir.

Degree of Difficulty: Pretty much a walk in the park. The trails pass through woodlands and range from 0.5 miles to 6.5 miles.

Drawbacks: Not a large area, but it still makes for a good day.

More info: Vermont State Parks and trail map for Little River State Park

After trip treat: The Alchemist Pub and Brewery, 23 South Main St., Waterbury. A superb seven-barrel pub and brewery. Excellent pub food, too.

What other recommendations do you have for snowshoeing trails in central and northern Vermont? Please share your insights in the comments below.

This article was originally published on Jan 31, 2009. It was updated on Dec 22, 2020, to new information and updated links.

Read Next:
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4 Great Snowshoe Adventures from Stowe Mountain Lodge

About the author

Matt Sutkoski

Matt Sutkoski is a freelance writer and a staff reporter for the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press. He also operates a small property maintenance business. In his spare time he enjoys recreational snowshoeing, trail running and hiking.