While many are drawn to the family friendly Suicide Six ski area, snowshoers visiting Woodstock, Vt., will head directly to the two peaks cradling the village. Not exactly twins, slightly taller Mount Tom stands about 300 feet higher than 1,100-foot Mount Peg.
Despite their unassuming size, the two peaks offer trails that are welcoming for beginners but also offer ample evergreen escape, cardio-pumping incline and views that satisfy. Add in red covered bridges, a neatly polished town square, and an average snowfall of 80 inches and you can see why Tubbs has opened its first adventure center in Woodstock.
Mount Peg serves as the gentle green backdrop for Woodstock village, The Woodstock Inn Nordic Center and the Tubbs Snowshoe Adventure Center. Both are housed just about a mile-and-a-half from The Woodstock Inn in an airy post-and-beam recreation center that also includes a pool, courts, fitness rooms, refreshments and a small retail space. This place is buzzing in the winter with both new and seasoned Nordic skiers and snowshoers.
Miles of groomed Nordic and skating ski trails cover an 18-hole golf course, making this an easy, open and invigorating trail system. With Tubbs Certified Guides on hand, beginners will find this a very accessible introduction to snowshoeing.
But there is room for more adventure too. Cut into the conifer-rich woods are miles of trails of increasing difficulty that lead up Mount Peg. For snowshoers there is an ungroomed 3.6 km trail that takes you on a one-way trip through the forest heading up to the peak. From there you will see beautiful views of the valley and Killington to the north. Backtrack to return to the Center. Or continue down the trail landing about a block from The Woodstock Inn. Obviously, this trail can be accessed from trailheads at both the recreation center and from behind the Woodstock Inn on Golf Avenue.
Perhaps it’s the walk across the covered bridge, but there is something magical about the easy trek from the village center to the top of Mount Tom. Billed as a cardio-walk, this easy switchback climbs to the top in about 30 minutes. It’s a favorite for families and nature lovers who don’t like to go too far off the beaten path. The south-peak view presents the village of Woodstock like a diorama that can be folded up and savored until next time. To get there, head across the Middle Bridge over to Faulkner Park on Mountain Ave.
But to really stretch those legs, you’ll want to head over to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. As you can guess from the name, there are many people to thank for preserving this great place for outdoor exploration. While you may not have heard of him, George Perkins Marsh is one of America’s first conservationists. Ultimately it was the Rockefellers who enhanced and preserved the beauty of the village center and the land around it. The park is run as a partnership by the National Park Service, The Woodstock Foundation, Inc. and the Billings Farm & Museum, a working dairy farm and agricultural museum.
The 550-acre forest is one of the oldest professionally managed forests in the United States. It boasts 400-year-old hemlocks and Norway Spruce, a favorite of Frederick Billings for which the park is in-part named. Today it remains a source for harvested wood as well as a training ground for forest stewardship.
There are 30 km of Nordic trails covering Mount Tom and managed by the Woodstock Inn Nordic Center. Many of them including Mountain Road are carriage paths that help preserve the history of this area as well. Snowshoers are welcome to follow these trails or to cut off onto an ungroomed trail that leads up to the North Peak and then over to South Peak.
One other popular starting point is at Prosper Road about 3.5 miles from the village center. This trailhead provides access to longer, easier trails and offers closer proximity to The Pogue, a man-made, 14-acre pond with a .75 mile loop. Locals describe The Pogue as “peaceful.” Once again, carriage paths provide for gently ascending access to the South Peak. Follow the Prosper Trail to the North Ridge Loop toward Mount Tom Road. Snowshoers like the snaking West Ridge Trail for its access to a beautiful overlook of The Pogue.
The National Parks Service website includes detailed information about the history and conservation of this land and provides a list of hikes by difficulty. For more fun, check out the farm-to-festive atmosphere weekends in December as well as the popular sleigh ride series both at Billings Farm during the winter.