Manchester is a village in southern Vermont and one of the most charming towns, easily drivable from New York and Boston. The sidewalks are marble because, in the 1800s, the local quarry had great stone stores. The sidewalks are still in place today. The history is palpable as you stroll through the streets where the Marsh Tavern once stood. It’s now the gorgeous Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. Still, it was the site where American Revolutionaries known as the Green Mountain Boys plotted to fight against the British. As you survey the landscape, you’ll see Mt. Equinox rising 3,800 feet behind the resort, the tallest peak in the Taconic Range. The Equinox Preservation Trust protects the land and Mt. Equinox. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy the outdoors in any season. Activities like hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are open to the public in winter.
With all this talk of mountains, there are two ski resorts within a short drive of Manchester. Bromley is 6 miles, and Stratton is 17 miles away from the town center. Both offer fantastic alpine experiences but are favorites for different reasons. Bromley has some of the best downhill adventures for families. Stratton has thrills for adventure seekers on skis or snowboards, plus a Nordic center for alternative pursuits like cross country, tubing, or fat tire biking. If your passion is motorized speed, snowmobile tours offer high-energy excitement. Or, for a relaxed ride, a sleigh experience might be more of what you imagined. Manchester has a lot to offer all year, but in winter, this is a snow-lovers paradise. Here are seven exciting options for outdoor activities in no specific order when the white flakes start to swirl.
Bromley, or “Sun Mountain,” has an award-winning children’s and family ski program. The slopes all funnel to the central base area so no one can get lost on opposite sides of the mountain or have trouble connecting back with their party. The reason it’s called Sun Mountain is because of the warm southern exposure gracing the slopes. The sunny skies help keep everyone warm enough to enjoy a fun ski day. With 47 trails, there’s a variety of challenges for every skier. Bromley also has two terrain parks, friendly instructors, and helpful staff. When hunger strikes, there are delicious dining options. This resort is a local’s favorite for a reason.
Stratton was named one of Ski Magazine‘s “20 Best East Coast Ski Resorts 2022.” This historic mountain was the birthplace of snowboarding, as it was the first resort to allow snowboarders on its lifts. It is also the home of Vermont’s first World Cup ski races. It’s the perfect mountain for both beginner and more advanced skiers. I brought my children when they were first learning to ski, and the instructors were excellent. The terrain blends beginner to expert slopes with 99 trails, including a top to bottom green trail. It’s a long, fantastic experience and a fabulous way to enjoy a beautiful Vermont ski day. There is something to do here for every family member, even if they aren’t skiers or snowboarders.
The Nordic Center at Stratton Mountain has 12km of groomed trails for cross-country, fat biking, and snowshoeing. At the center, you can sign-up for snowshoeing tours where you can experience the Green Mountain views and the beauty of the pine forest in the early morning, afternoon, or evenings with a Nordic Lights tour.
The Coca-Cola Tube Park features four lanes of lift-serviced snow tubing. This activity is family fun at its finest with a warming hut, snacks, and fire pits during specific days. It’s fun to take a break from the slopes and tube for an afternoon.
3. Equinox Preserve Trust
The Equinox Preserve Trust is on the eastern side of Mount Equinox and consists of 914 acres of protected land and a pond open to the public year round. There are 11 miles of hiking and biking trails that range from easy to complex, including a steep climb up to the summit. If you are up for a brisk winter hike or bike, the trails are marked and maintained. They’re also dog-friendly, with pets on leash. Download the map from the website or pick up a map from the kiosk near the trailhead. Bikers should avoid single-track trails such as Snicket and Trout Lily as they don’t bike trails. Also, make sure you have the proper gear for the weather, including a hat, gloves, and appropriate footwear. Flatlanders Pass to the Pond Loop Trail is easy and makes a pleasant trek. The Blue Summit Trail is a long climb that goes all the way to the top. It’s challenging but offers beautiful views.
4. Land Rover Experience At The Equinox
The Land Rover Experience teaches drivers how to off-road safely. Depending on the package you choose, you will increase your knowledge by covering the basics of expedition-style driving and mastering obstacles that you’ll find in off-road situations. You’ll learn how to climb steep ascents and drive down steep descents. Participants will experience icy side-tilts, log, and water crossings, rock crawls, and drive-over boulders. This thrilling adventure includes an expert instructor as your guide on the grounds of the Land Rover Experience Driving Center at the Equinox Golf Resort & Spa in Manchester. You’ll get behind the wheel of a Land Rover vehicle (or bring your own) for an hour, two-hour, half-day, full-day, or an array of choices (viewed on their website). A valid driver’s license and a credit card are necessary to participate.
5. Taylor Farm Sleigh Rides
Taylor Farm offers sleigh rides for that “True taste of Vermont.” Every sleigh holds up to 10 adults and rides last for 45 glorious minutes. Each sleigh experience includes a fireside stop to sip hot cider. Then you can hop back on board to snuggle under a warm woolen blanket. Could it be any more romantic? The farm store has s’mores kits to roast marshmallows at the fire stop for purchase before departure, or you could shop for cheese and snack items as a picnic to nibble for the ride. You’ll find Vermont-made items such as real maple syrup and homemade loaves of bread, honey, local meats, and CBD products back at the store. There are bags of feed for the farm animals too. After the ride, you can spend time with the chickens, goats, and cows for as long as you’d like. Reservations are required. Call Mimi at the phone number on the website to reserve your coveted spot.
Hildene is the historic home of Robert Lincoln, Abraham and Mary Todd’s son, who survived to maturity. Robert built Hildene in 1905 with his wife, Mary. He fondly remembered visiting Manchester while staying at the Equinox Hotel in 1864 with his mother and brother Tad. Robert loved it so much he returned to build his summer residence, calling it his “ancestral home” on 412 acres forty years later. He was the president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing corporation in the country. While the Georgian revival mansion is open year-round for tours, the grounds make a wonderful place to snowshoe. Rentals are available (for a fee in) the Pavilion adjacent to the Welcome Center. Twelve miles of trails are open (conditions permitting) for walkers and cross-country skiers, but skiers must bring their gear. The courses are natural and not groomed, and if you aren’t a member of Hildene, you must pay an admission fee to use the grounds. Check the website for conditions to be sure the trails are open and accessible. Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather.
7. Vermont Mountain Adventures
Vermont Mountain Adventures is a backcountry snowmobile outfit that rents snowmobiles, certified helmets, and a professional tour guide for 2-hour tours. The tours run every day, 7 days a week unless the weather causes a cancelation. But even if it’s snowing, the Polaris Indy LXT snowmobiles are shined up and ready to roll. It is recommended to contact Vermont Mountain Adventures at least a day before your desired excursion to be sure to secure a time slot. All the tours have guides. There will be one guide for every four snowmobiles. Passengers can be as young as five, but any driver must hold a valid driver’s license. If you are a passenger and have a driver’s license, you can switch and drive if you would like. Everyone should arrive fully dressed for remote winter conditions for a 2-hour tour. Due to current conditions, no clothing is available for rent. There are private tours available for an additional fee. Suppose you would like a starlight or sunset tour. In that case, its sister company, Stratton Adventures, located on Stratton Mountain Resort offers those tours for a truly unique experience.
Pro Tip: To be dressed appropriately for snowmobiling, you should wear winter snow pants, ski gloves, heavy winter boots, and a winter snow jacket. If you have a helmet, it should be a DOT-approved helmet that indicates that it’s DOT certified.
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