EDITOR'S NOTE: Highland Lodge is no longer a ski center. However, neighboring Craftsbury Outdoor Center has been maintaining some of the trails that run between the Highland and Craftsbury networks. Do check them out!
I may have found the most scenic <link category cross-country-skiing external-link-new-window external link in new>cross-country trails in Vermont. They are at Highland Lodge in Greensboro.
A long climb up to the Barr Hill area at 2,100 feet afforded the Skimeister and I our first visual treat. We entered a meadow that could have been found in Colorado. Giant, snow-frosted evergreens were everywhere and the ones that lined the trail had long icicles because they had been facing south toward the warm sun. In the distance we could see rolling hills and mountains.
From there, we climbed through the woods and schussed down into another meadow. This time the panorama included Burke Mountain, where we had skied the day before. Some more twists and turns would give us a view of Jay Peak, Vt.
The Skimeister and I were doing an approximately eight-mile tour from Highland Lodge to Craftsbury Village, where we were staying with friends. On Highland Lodge's trail map, the intersections are numbered instead of the trails. Our route would take us to intersections 2, 3, 9, 8, 4, 18, 33, 35 and into the village.
We had a field day taking photos. Lots of them. Vistas to the west along this route included views of Mount Mansfield, Mount Elmore and the uppermost reaches of Camel's Hump.
The most exciting downhill was the zippy and turny Fisher's Sugarbush area, which brought us through maple trees and sap lines. We even had to duck for one that crossed the trail on its way down to the sugar shack! We passed a couple of barns and homes, and looked out on the pastoral land of the Northeast Kingdom.
While I give two thumbs up for the scenic trails, I give thumbs down to the Highland Lodge rental shop. I had to rent skis because one of my skinny skis was damaged, and they had old three-pin equipment with dry bases. I was also given old, short poles, which I quickly exchanged for a longer length after a bit of climbing. The Skimeister also remarked that the trails were not as packed down as some of the more serious nordic centers.
Highland Lodge honors tickets from the well-known <link post sunday-cruisin-at-craftsbury-nordic-center external-link-new-window external link in new>Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and vice versa. A long connector trail links the two centers.
So, grab your own gear and start climbing to the gorgeous views on Highland Lodge's high meadows. And don't forget your balaclava or neck warmer. It can get blustery up there in the highlands!
HIGHLAND LODGE NORDIC CENTER AT A GLANCE
Located on Craftsbury Road between East Craftsbury and Greensboro villages in Vermont
50 km groomed cross-country trails
Rental shop (that is not recommended)
Lunch, dinner and lodging available at the Highland Lodge inn
Reciprocal ticketing with Craftsbury Nordic Center nearby