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The Great Outdoors 

Published August 26, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. | Updated August 26, 2015 at 11:24 a.m.

Between the lakes, the mountains and that fresh, crisp air, Vermont is about as close as you can get to Mother Nature. If you're going to live here, you should take advantage of your natural surroundings. You'll want to in the warmer months, and getting outside in the winter is crucial, too. (Trust us, seasonal affective disorder is real.)

So read on for a sampling of our favorite outdoor activities, both in winter — uh, skiing and riding — and when the weather turns nice. We've also included some choice spots to get you outfitted for whatever activity you choose — cuz you don't want to be the chump skiing in jeans.

Spots for Winter Fun

click to enlarge FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen

Mad River Glen

57 Schuss Pass Rd., Waitsfield,

Corduroy is for wimps. Boasting some of the most challenging and ungroomed slopes in the East — accessible via one of only two single-person chairlifts in North America — Mad River's slogan dares you to "Ski it if you can." Whatever you do, don't try to snowboard it. No boarders allowed, brah.

Bolton Valley Resort

4302 Bolton Valley Access Rd., Bolton,

Just a half-hour drive from downtown, Bolton is Burlington's closest ski area and one of the best peaks for night skiing and riding.

Burlington Country Club

568 S. Prospect St., Burlington,

Once it's covered with snow, the hill at BCC becomes Burlington's most popular sledding destination. But watch your speed, hot dog. Kids and families abound.

Catamount Outdoor Family Center

592 Gov. Chittenden Rd., Williston,

Don't let the "family" in the title keep you away from this 500-acre spread on the outskirts of Burlington. Come here for biking, cross-country skiing and running.

Lake Champlain

Waterfront Park, Burlington,

When the lake freezes over, Burlington Bay is a magical ice skating spot. There's nothing quite like looping figure eights with the Queen City skyline as your backdrop.

Jay Peak Resort

830 Jay Peak Rd., Jay,

Bundle up — Vermont's chilly, northernmost resort has lots of fresh powder and great glades. To defrost, surf, swim or waterslide at the Pump House Indoor Waterpark.

Stowe Mountain Resort

5781 Mountain Rd., Stowe,

Vermont's preeminent alpine resort boasts unrelenting verticals, a fully stocked terrain park, a fancy lodge and a first-rate performing arts center. They don't call it the "Aspen of the East" for nothing.

Spots for Summer-ish Fun

click to enlarge greatoutdoors1-2-01881e8e1f84b13e.jpg

Camel's Hump State Park

Vermont founding father Ira Allen initially named this distinctive 4,083-foot mountain Camel's Rump in the late 1700s. And, yes, there's some question as to whether Allen had ever actually, y'know, seen a camel, as the mountain only vaguely resembles one. Whatever. The summit still offers one of the most jaw-dropping vistas in the state. From the Huntington side, you can go up to the top and make it back to town in time for dinner.

Bristol Falls

Lincoln Rd., Bristol

Swimming holes are everywhere in Vermont, which is a good thing when Lake Champlain inevitably sprouts an algae bloom. Bristol Falls, just outside of cute-as-a-button Bristol, is one of the more scenic — and safe — spots to cool off. It features a 15-foot waterfall that empties into a deep, chilly pool.

Community Sailing Center

234 Penny Ln., Burlington,

Old salts who know the difference between a jib and a spinnaker can rent sailboats at this community-oriented sailing center from May through October. If you're here in the summer, take lessons or test your skills in weekly races.

Island Line Trail

South Hero,

This 14-mile bike trail runs along Lake Champlain from Oakledge Park all the way to the Colchester causeway — a narrow old railbed that extends three miles into the lake. A bike ferry connects you to the Champlain Islands in the summer.

Mt. Philo State Park

5425 Mt. Philo Rd., Charlotte,

Mt. Philo is the perfect high-altitude spot for a picnic with friends. There's a steep trail to the top, but your less adventurous buds can drive up the 968-foot peak from late May to mid-October. Either way, you have to pay.

North Beach

52 Institute Rd., Burlington,

Students flock to this popular sandy strip as soon as the temperature cracks 40 degrees. To avoid the crowds, walk a few hundred yards south to Texaco Beach, where in-the-know locals go, with dogs in tow.

Oakledge Park

2 Flynn Ave., Burlington,

Tennis, volleyball and bocce — and the occasional hipster kickball league — are draws at this beautiful South End park. The picnic pavilions, spacious lawns and clean beach are nice, too.

Outdoor Stores

click to enlarge FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • file: Matthew Thorsen

Burton Flagship Store

80 Industrial Pkwy., Burlington,

Respect your elders, especially if they invented your sport. Jake Burton's flagship store is the first stop on any boarder's quest for pow — not to mention any quest for steez. Burton is a trendsetter in both gear and style.

Alpine Shop

1184 Williston Rd., South Burlington,

"Ski today, work tomorrow" is the motto of this locally owned outfitter, housed in a roadside ski chalet and in business for more than half a century. It has everything you need for your alpine adventures — including stylin' après-ski apparel.

Eastern Mountain Sports

100 Dorset St., South Burlington,

Look for climbing, hiking, camping and paddling gear here. They've got boats, too! Show your student ID for a 20 percent discount on EMS-brand items; you get 15 percent off everything else, as long as it's not already on sale.

The North Face Store @ KL SPORT

210 College St., Burlington,

Superior service and great outdoor gear — packs, tents, sleeping bags and jackets — are the foundations of this one-stop, locally owned-and-operated shop.

Old Spokes Home

322 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington,

The self-described "most unusual bike shop on the planet" is the best place in Burlington to find a vintage ride. Its staff tunes anything with two wheels. They sell new stuff, too.


85 Main St., Burlington,

SnowSports Industries America has called this the No. 1 ski shop in New England. Skirack is also a sizable bike shop with tons of two-wheelers, from BMX to downhill.


688 Pine St., Burlington,

Yes, Burlington has a surf shop. The city's only exclusively water-sports retailer offers access to the wind and waves. Gear up here for windsurfing, standup paddleboarding and kiteboarding.

Related Locations

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About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen was a photographer for Seven Days 1995-2018. Read all about his life and work here.


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