Afternoon cruisin' at the Woodstock Nordic Center

Friday, February 15, 2013 at 05:17 PM

I travel up and down Interstate 89 quite frequently, but rarely do I have time to get off the highway to explore. Yesterday was the exception to the rule. I had time to ski in the afternoon before returning home so I decided to check out the Woodstock Nordic Center.

I've visited the quaint village of Woodstock, Vt., a number of times — but never in the winter. The Woodstock Inn's golf course is transformed with a blanket of white snow to become the base for the Nordic center. While you can cruise on rather level, groomed trails on the greens, you can also cross Kedron Brook and head up into the woods for more challenging ski trails. A total of 30 km of trails are available here.

But that's not all.

The cross-country trail system is actually broken in two sections on opposite sides of Woodstock Village. If you park near the Billings Farm and Museum, you can ski on 30 km of trails on Mount Tom, as well. Interestingly, the Woodstock Inn website says: “Trails on Mt. Tom in the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park will be left in their natural state for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. No fee will be charged.” Cool!

Many of these trails were carriage roads in the late 1800s and apparently they offer great views. If you start near the farm, you'll get a peek at the Marsh-Billings-Rockerfeller historic mansion, which is a National Historical Park. (They offer tours in the summer; it's pretty interesting.) I did not have time to explore the Mount Tom section of the trail network, but now that I have the Nordic center's map, you can bet that I will sometime soon!

So back to the golf-course base of the Nordic center, where advanced trails climb the side of Mount Peg...

To get there from Woodstock Village, pretend you are standing in front of the Woodstock Inn and you'll see a road on the right. It's Route 106 or South Street. Take that and you'll start to see the golf course and then you'll pass the Golf Club building and later come upon the Nordic center, which is based in the Racquet and Fitness Club. The person at the desk will direct you to the place to rent equipment and get a ticket. Get a map here; it covers both sections of the cross-country trail network. 

The sun came out while I was getting into my boots so the afternoon ski turned out to be a real treat. The snow conditions were spring-like. The trails were no doubt hard in the morning, but with rising temperatures and grooming, they softened up for the afternoon. I enjoyed soaking up the afternoon sun as I skied in the small fields along the Flatlander trail, and then into the main part of the golf course. Here the trail follows the narrow Kedron Brook.

For my return, I had been warned that the hillside trails were a bit challenging because of the spring weather we have been having. (We need some more snow here!) But I wanted to get into the trees and see what there was to see.

I took one of the several bridges over the brook and found the Brookside trail and the Easy Grade trail, which climb up and contour above the brook actually. I didn't pass anyone up here on this midweek day. I stopped every once in a while in a spot where the sun snuck through the trees and soaked it up. I also enjoyed the rollercoaster-like ups and downs of the wooded trail. From these trails you can climb up higher to access more difficult trails.

I ended up back at the southern end of the trail network in those sunny fields. They had done a lot of grooming in this area, perhaps in preparation for the local high school team's training that afternoon — they were taking to the trails as I left. Corduroy everywhere. Oh, and hearts, too! Someone had hung handmade stuffed hearts along the trail for Valentine's Day. Très cute.

For my drive home, I swung through the village again. It's full of stately homes and buildings. I was in search of coffee and I found it at the Daily Grind Cafe on Central Street. They have good cookies, and the other baked good looked very tempting! A nice way to round out my afternoon in Woodstock.

Woodstock Nordic Center at a Glance 

  • Trail total: 60 km (groomed and ungroomed)
  • Two main sections of the trail network

    • Mt. Peg/Golf Course area to the south of Woodstock village
    • Mt. Tom area to the north-west of the village

  • Rentals available
  • Lessons available
  • Snowshoeing available
  • One dog-walking trail in Mt. Tom area
  • Located on Route 106 / South Street, Woodstock, Vermont
  • Visit our Nordic center listings for Vermont for the phone number for snow conditions (they don't post conditions online)

Filed in: Backcountry skiing, Cross-country skiing, Food, coffee & après ski, Woodstock

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