Beginner's ice-climbing excursions, set amid Vermont's picturesque framework of frozen peaks and glacial waterfalls, equip students of all levels with the basic know-how for treading arctic landscapes. During each private, seven-hour session, one of Petra Cliffs' certified guides outfits scaling protégés with all necessary gear and equipment before leading troops out to the course. Easy to moderate terrain enables a fruitful learning environment, where groups work on fundamental techniques including belaying, rappelling, and primal screaming. Since lessons are private, students have the opportunity to dictate the day's instruction and focus on specific skills, ranging from elementary top-roped climbing to mimicking the mating call of feral zambonis.
Framed by the tree-spotted foothills of Vermont, Rocky Ridge Golf Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across a verdant expanse of rolling farmland. Throughout the course, elevated fairways and greens offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains, as well as a safe lookout from which golfers can detect rival armies of croquet players. Flower beds and rocky outcrops along short-grass corridors further accent the layout’s bucolic environs. Clubbers looking for lessons can seek out golf pro Ed Coleman, who roams the grounds in a zen state attained through 20 years of coaching experience and aromatherapy that uses the odor of freshly mowed fairways. Cozy, green-side seating and tables nestled in shaded porches await golfers for post-round relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.
Among numerous other accolades, Smugglers' Notch was named one of the 10 Best East Coast Resorts by SKI Magazine for its impressive thousand-acres of terrain and its tremendous family-friendly resort village. Three mountains providing a vertical drop of 2,610 feet dare skiers and snowboarders to cut into their powdery snow packs. All levels of pole cats can trek the more than 27 miles of trails. Beginners can glide on gently groomed hills and experts can disappear into the Black Hole, a rare triple-black-diamond route. The downhill professors at Snow Sport University coach students in the ways of balance, speed, and outmaneuvering paparazzi on bobsleds. The resort's snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling keep winter warriors' agendas packed.
Sculpted through scenic mountainside terrain, Green Mountain National Golf Course spans 6,589 yards of arching fairways and multi-tiered greens. Engulfed by dense tree lines and rising mountain faces, the course's narrow fairways call for a cautious approach, and those boldly teeing off with a driver or 17th-century musket may end up hacking their second shot out of the woodsy rough. As golfers traverse the course, elevated tees, greens, and cresting fairways give way to panoramic views, letting golfers glimpse the contoured terrain and drink in ancient rock formations shaped by glaciers and the species of colossal paleontologists that ruled the continent prior to their extinction. A full-length driving range, short game practice area, and putting green fine tune players' club-wielding prowess, and a fully stocked pro shop offers up equipment and gear to help guests loop the links in style.
Course at a Glance:
The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.