Outdoor Ice-Skating at Lake Morey Resort

Skate the 4.5-Mile Outdoor Loop at Lake Morey Resort

By Margaret Grayson
Story originally published in Seven Days on 12|29|2020.

For anyone whose vision of ice-skating involves tight loops at an indoor rink, dodging the flailing limbs of children and hearing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” blasted through speakers, the skating loop at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee may come as a surprise.

The four-and-a-half-mile loop, which the resort touts as the longest outdoor skating track in the United States, traces the edge of the lake under open sky. On the interior of the lake, resort staff clear a dozen smaller rinks. And if you bring your own skates, it’s free to enjoy.

The family-owned Lake Morey Resort was originally built in 1905, though the building has since been expanded. In the summer, visitors might play a round of golf on its 18-hole course or take a hike at nearby Echo Mountain. In the fall, the resort’s halls often fill with conference attendees. But in the winter, it’s all about the ice, which is usually thick enough for skating by mid-January.

Though the skating is free, the resort does rent out skates, helmets and more from a large ballroom by the shore. Mostly it rents Nordic skates, Howe said, which have longer blades that are flat instead of concave, so they don’t cut into the ice as much. They’re typically better for longer distances on rough outdoor ice, whereas hockey or figure skates offer better grip for stops and turns. Skate rentals are free for overnight guests.

Not everyone feels confident with their feet strapped to a metal blade, so the resort also stocks Kicksparks — sleds with handlebars and metal runners that originated as a means of transportation in Nordic countries. Users wear regular shoes and push themselves forward by kicking a foot back, balancing on the runners as they slide ahead. The contraption resembles a dogsled minus the dogs.

“It’s an alternative for someone who maybe isn’t comfortable on skates. [There’s] less balance required,” Howe said. “We’ll have some people who maybe are disabled, and they’ll use this instead.”

For those who prefer an alternative kind of winter traverse, the resort’s 18-hole golf course is open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and equipment for those activities is also available for rent. If sitting is more your thing, many people set up ice-fishing rigs on the lake, complete with chairs and warming huts.

The hotel itself is relatively unassuming, though it does offer a pool, a movie room and some truly psychedelic carpeting. The main attraction is undoubtedly the scenery, visible through wide windows surrounding the lounge. In some of the rooms overlooking the lake, the view from the windows doesn’t even include the ground — just water, mountains and sky.

“It feels like a cruise ship,” Howe said.

Skaters should be aware that pond ice can be fickle. While the skating trail is regularly cleared of snow, the quality of the surface is dependent on the weather. The resort has a Zamboni for hockey tournaments but doesn’t use it to smooth the trail.

“A warming day, where people are not using the ice, and then a hard freeze at night makes beautiful, flat ice,” Howe said. “But on a beautiful sunny, warm day, you have, typically, a lot of people using the ice. Multiple days of that can create rougher conditions.”

So, though it may seem counterintuitive, pray for a cold snap if you’re planning a skating trip.

Lake Morey Resort
1 Clubhouse Rd., Fairlee


Seven Days Staytripper Series

Created by Seven Days, the “Staytripper: The Road Map for Rediscovering Vermont” series presents curated excursions statewide. The series was originally published from 2020-2022 and highlights Vermont restaurants, retailers, attractions, and outdoor adventures to spotlight all corners of the state.