Upper Green Mountains

A car drives toward the camera on a road with a mountain behind and red, orange, and yellow leaves on trees.
A person walks through deep snow on the side of a mountain.

Upper Green Mountains

Skyscraping icons of Vermont, the Upper Green Mountains are a majestic march of peaks that span from remote Belvidere Mountain in the north to the ski-trail-laced slopes farther south. Broken only by the Lamoille and Winooski river valleys and the winding passes of Smugglers’ Notch and the Appalachian Gap, these mountains represent the state’s most rugged terrain—and its most inviting landscape for challenging outdoor recreation. Skiing’s history in this region dates back 90 years, to when Civilian Conservation Corps teams cut the first trails on the state’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield.

Ski areas here sprawl across multiple mountains. Stowe Mountain Resort has Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield; Smugglers’ Notch includes Madonna, Morse, and Sterling mountains; Sugarbush spreads over Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen. “Ski It If You Can” Mad River Glen is an exception, both for its single mountain (General Stark) and its vintage single-chair lift, the last one remaining in the lower 48 states.

But these mountains aren’t just about snow. The 272-mile hiking route known as the Long Trail crosses every major summit, while its side trails ascend more modest peaks. And even hiking boots are optional for Mount Mansfield, whose 4,393-foot summit can be reached by toll road or aerial gondola.

Unlike the deeply cut glacial lakes of its neighbor, the Northeast Kingdom, the welcoming waters of the Upper Green Mountains sit gently on the craggy landscape. Along with lovely 219-acre Lake Elmore, Elmore State Park offers access to campsites and beaches. State parks at the Waterbury and Green River reservoirs, meanwhile, include remote camping locations that can be reached only by boat. Green River is a special treat for wilderness lovers, with a no-motorboats policy and 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

Just as the Long Trail isn’t the only way to traverse the Upper Green Mountains, outdoor recreation isn’t the only way to savor this region. Vermont’s Route 100 links many local attractions. The road runs through the classic village of Stowe, with the famous Trapp Family Lodge sitting in the nearby foothills. Less than half an hour south of Stowe, there’s a monument to ice cream: The Ben & Jerry’s factory tour is a Vermont favorite in every season.

Maybe it’s something in the water, but the Upper Green Mountains are also home to several famous names in Vermont’s thriving craft-beverage movement. The von Trapp family’s brewery and The Alchemist in Stowe, Rock Art in Morrisville, and Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield all have loyal followings and on-site tasting rooms or pubs.

These mountain communities have a lively cultural scene, too, in both the visual and performing arts. The Bryan Memorial Gallery, which has its original Jeffersonville location and a newer branch in Stowe, focuses on New England landscape paintings. The Current, in Stowe, showcases local contemporary art. Waitsfield’s Artisans’ Gallery is a hub for artists and craftspeople in the Mad River Valley and beyond. The Lamoille County Players in Hyde Park and Waitsfield’s Valley Players present amateur theater annually.

And all year long, the region’s ski resort towns do their part to bring people together with music and community fun. As the snow begins to melt, look for madcap “Spring Fling” days on the slopes. Summer brings a full lineup of concerts to places like Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak Courtyard. And fall sees Stowe hosting everything from the three-day Foliage Arts Festival to Indigenous People’s Day Rocks!, a daylong celebration of Native American culture that includes contributions from Vermont’s Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, one of the largest Abenaki tribes still in existence.

A person in an orange vest stands next to an orange canoe by a river. They are holding a paddle upright and smiling.

A Long Weekend in Stowe

Join outdoor adventurer Tyrhee Moore for a long weekend in Stowe, where he paddles at the Waterbury Reservoir, discovers Vermont’s world-class craft beer scene, and learns how to mountain bike at Trapp Family Lodge.