And just like that Christmas has come and gone. It seems like it passes slower this year then in years past and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because we took the days slower, slept in, did some crossword puzzles & relaxed or maybe it’s just all in my head. We’ll never know.
This time of year it can be really hard to relax, I get it, but I’ve found that somethings help me more than others. We spend the last few weeks of the year traveling up and down 95. Luckily we get to see family & friends throughout the whole trip so it’s not bad. My only real complaint is that living out of a suitcase can be frustrating and it can be hard to remember what clothes are clean, gently worn, or dirty, you know?
One thing that I have found to be incredibly important over the years during the holiday rush is movement. If I’m moving each day in some way, shape, ore form I’m good. If I’m not, in anxious & easily irritable.
Yes, moving in some way but not always a let me kill myself type a movement. Usually a walk with the dog & some light stretching will suffice. That being said one of my favorite winter activities is snowshoeing. I’ve come to find that it’s challenging but not stressful. I can make it easy or hard and I can enjoy it by myself or with others.
This break I had the opportunity to snowshoe a lot at Stratton while with JJ’s family in Vermont and it was quite enjoyable! I think snowshoeing might be my winter activity of choice. Yes, I still snowboard but for me snowboarding is more stressful & not as relaxing as snowshoeing so you’ll see me both ascending & descending mountains this winter, don’t worry.
Snowshoeing at Stratton Mountain Vermont
When I googled if people snowshoe Stratton mountain, I couldn’t find much. Most of what you find is in regards to the Nordic Center which is great if you have a season pass or if you are up for paying a daily fee, but fun fact, you can snowshoe for free! I figured I’d share my experience in case it would help anyone.
If you have your own snowshoes (or some to borrow or rent) you can hike plenty of areas at Stratton for free which is great especially since a lift ticket can get super pricey these days! There are trails for all abilities so don’t think you are stuck hiking straight up! Although I prefer hiking straight up, you see?
Technically Stratton only owns the lift not the mountain itself so you are legally allowed to hike anywhere on the mountain. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, I’d strongly advise not to just start snowshoeing wherever you please especially if you are not familiar with snowshoeing and/or Stratton. Note that there will be people barreling down the mountain and some out of control so always stay alert and aware and if you can’t see people up the hill, they can’t see you!
Ok, done playing Mrs Safety First! Here are a few hikes/walks I’ve done or know of!
Stratton Golf Course: Easy/Beginner
This is a few minutes down from the mountain but there is ample acreage to walk, hike, & snowshoe! Not to mention there is plenty of parking so no need to worry about that.
In the winter the golf course is free reign so you can go almost anywhere, just watch for ice. You can bring your dog too. If there’s not a lot of snow you may be able to just go in snow boots. However, after a good dumping, you have plenty of space to snowshoe while looking up at the mountain.
Mike’s Way: Beginner/Intermediate
I have yet to snowshoe up this trail but it is the easy way down the mountain for skiers/boarders so the pitch is very mild. The nice thing is that it’s relatively flat.
The downside to this trail is that there is no mid way stopping point so you either have to go all the way up or turn around when you’re done. It’s fairly narrow too so be mindful of that when you’re on the trail, single file it is!
Lower Standard: Intermediate
This is the trail right under the Gondola. It’s steep in some places but if you take your time it’s not too bad! I recommend hugging the right side (when looking up the mountain) until you are ready to cross over.
From this trail you can peel off to the left and head over to the Mid Mountain Lodge for a break & drinks. You can also continue uphill via Upper Standard but it gets VERY steep so choose wisely!
Upper Standard: Difficult
You can get to Upper Standard from Lower Standard. It continues up the Gondola line so continue to hug the right side just be mindful of skiers & boarders. From here you can technically take any trail down, Mike’s Way may be a nice way for your legs to recover!
Lower/Upper Kidderbrook: Difficult
This trail starts from the Sun Bowl. Take the furthest left trail and hug the left side all the way up. This trail starts easy but be warned it’s gets VERY steep. So you could hike just the bottom lower kidderbrook trail or you could keep going.
If you keep going, pace it out and keep looking uphill! Sometimes you’re lucky and the trail is closed and get the whole trail to yourself but when it’s open it can get busy. However, I’ve never felt that this trail is overcrowded so you should be good.
Downside? No mid point to stop and rest. If you’re going up you’re committed until you get to the top. You know you’re there when you hit the big platform with railings. This hike took us about 1 hour and 10-15 minutes to climb and about 50-55 min to descend. We did this with Bode, our dog, as well!
These are all trails that Stratton does not suggest for uphill travel but I’ve done them all and if you are smart & alert/aware they are fine!
This is from Sun Bowl and is a long but relatively easy climb. It’s flat just hug the right side and be on watch for novice riders. Head out right from the Sun Bowl lodge and go right of the Tubing park near the houses.
This trail takes you to the Ursa lift where you can turn around or keep going up many trails. You can make your way to Mid Mountain just past the lift but be careful because this turn is very congested! Doable but just be aware on crowded days it may be very dicey.
Black Bear: Intermediate/Difficult
From 91 you could turn left up the steep hill to Black Bear. This trail will take you to the top and will follow the Shooter lift up. It’s not as steep as Upper Standard or Kidderbrook so could be a better way to the top for some. You will have to crossover the trail a few times to remain in good visibility! From the top you can take any trail down.
This trail goes from the base to Mid Mountain and is a fairly straight shot up! A lot of newbies on the trail but it’s short and relatively easy. Stay to the left and you’ll be grabbing a drink a Mid Mountain in 1/2 hour!
Ok, so I have a 2 year old Wheaten Terrier who is hyperactive & loves the snow. This week we took him on every hike but I wouldn’t usually do that. If the mountain is crowded I leave him at home or go to the golf course. I’d recommend only taking dogs who are experienced and on leash and well controlled!
Thinking about snowshoeing? You need no experience! It’s just like walking but in snow instead. Just make sure you dress in layers!! I recommend having snowshoes, poles, a backpack with room for layers, water, & snacks.
If you’re going out by yourself and far from home, pack a first aid kit too! It may be worth looking into car medical emergency bags to take along with you for the journey – you never know when you might need one! If there’s a lot of snow you’re going to want snow pants and/or gaiters to keep the snow out of your feet. Speaking of your feet, grab yourself some good snow boots as they can make the walk far more enjoyable! These are mine and I love them.
I’m back home now and looking to enjoy a few days relaxing and sleeping in until the new year kicks me into gear! Maybe we’ll get some snow so I can snowshoe on the golf course across the street, we’ll see!
What do you do in winter for activity?
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