Vermont resorts have always stretched the boundaries of skiing and snowboarding, and their visitors are literally doing just that: Sidecountry/backcountry and ski touring are some of the fastest growing segments of the sports, as more and more participants discover the joys of venturing out into the great, often-untracked beyond.
Resorts are embracing this trend by putting glades and other prime tree skiing terrain on their trail maps, and enacting policies for uphill travel and sidecountry/backcountry access and enjoyment. Some even offer guided forays beyond traditional area boundaries.
Take a look at what lies beyond the ropes at your favorite Vermont ski resort:
Killington: Uphill Travel at both Killington and Pico continue to increase in popularity with guests choosing to reach the peaks of Bear Mountain, Snowdon, Ramshead and Pico via human vs. machine power. With designated routes for each mountain area and 24/7 access (when designed routes are open) Killington and Pico offer plenty of options to make turns regardless the time of day. If there’s snow in the forecast for Tuesday or Wednesday, head to Pico for powder turns while the lifts sit idle on non-holiday Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Find all the details at Killington.com
Mad River Glen: Uphill traffic is not permitted during hours of lift operation.
We ask that you leave the base area no later than 45 minutes before the lifts actually open so that you can get up top before encountering skiers coming downhill. Learn more at MadRiverGlen.com
Smugglers’ Notch: At Smugglers’, health and safety are top priorities. Locals love taking advantage of the spectacular nighttime views off Madonna Summit and the physical challenge of trekking uphill to reach it. Uphill travel is allowed during times outlined specifically to each mountain, but never during the hours of lift operations. We set these times with regard to respect and safety of our guests, and for the hard-working operations team, making snow and grooming our terrain for the benefit of our daytime skiers and riders. It is important to remember there are no rescue services available outside of lift operation hours. For a complete list of policies pertaining to uphill travel at Smugglers’, visit smuggs.com/policies
Stratton: Stratton welcomes uphill travel on designated routes during operating hours. Please stay on skier’s left of all trails, wear brightly colored reflective clothing, keep all pets on a leash and only stop in an area where you are not obstructing a trail, and are visible from above.
Suicide Six: Suicide Six Ski Area offers the Uphill Travel and Trail Access Pass. The ticket window offers a pass for $25 administrative fee that allows guests to access the trail network at any time. The mountain equips purchasers with best practice guides and recommended trails.
Okemo: Okemo and the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks encourage the use of public lands. Our goal is to do so while maintaining our commitment to safety and the guest experience here at Okemo. During operating hours, we ask that all uphill traffic be limited to beginner and intermediate terrain, be done on the edge of the trail, and remain in a single file line. Access to lifts and terrain parks is reserved for ticket holders, and we do ask that all guests of the mountain adhere to the skier responsibility code which can be found on our trail maps. Okemo Mountain understands the desire of winter enthusiasts to hike, ski, and snowshoe when our lifts are not running. However, we do not recommend the use of our terrain during non-operational times. Grooming, snowmaking and other operations take place 24 hours a day throughout the resort. Skiers and riders must understand that they may put themselves at great risk by being on the mountain while these operations are in progress.
Magic: Magic has an open uphill skiing policy with people accessing the mountain for recreational purposes, the only exception being on official open “powder days” where Magic receives 6” or more of new snow that uphill traffic may not access the mountain until the lift spins at 9am, along with the general skiing public. Uphill skiers reaching the top when Magic is open may receive a token for one free chairlift ride from the Red Lift top shack attendant. Uphill traffic must stick to sides of trails when accessing the mountain and must yield to all downhill traffic and must adhere to any trail closures. Any dogs accompanying snowshoe uphillers must be on a leash to protect other skiers/riders, and no dogs are allowed to run free on the mountain when the ski area is open. Uphill skiers should never access the mountain alone when it is closed and never ski any glades or backcountry alone. Any rescue mission costs for backcountry or side country will be the responsibility of the uphiller. Uphillers assume their own risk in accessing Magic Mountain and Magic Mountain bears no liability for any injuries or accidents.
Mount Snow: For those looking to earn their turns Mount Snow offers uphill access throughout the entire resort during operating hours. Guests simply need to purchase an uphill pass or have an uphill endorsement added to their season pass.
Sugarbush: Hiking and skinning at Sugarbush is permitted on designated trails before the lifts open in the morning and after they close for the day, as well as after the mountain closes for the season. (Pre-season uphill travel is not permitted.) Those interested can acquire a free uphill travel pass to carry with them during travel. For full details on hours and routes please visit Sugarbush.com
Bolton: Here is a link to the area's policy: http://www.boltonvalley.com/the-mountain/snow-report-and-maps/Uphill-Travel-Policy