Weekend Trip Idea: Vermont’s Mad River Valley

I covered Vermont’s Mad River Valley in my 8 Ideas for Winter Fun Trips post back in December, but liked what I read so much that I’ve decided to provide it with its own Weekend Trip Idea coverage. And there’s still ample winter-time left to plan a semi-last minute jaunt up north (even though this so called polar-vortex is doing a great job convincing us that Pennsylvania should be considered New England). Like many “winter” getaway spots, there’s also plenty to do around the Mad River Valley year round.

The Mad River flows mainly through the towns of Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown Vermont before joining up with the Winooski River. It’s known for being pretty rocky and clear making it popular for swimming and other riversports. The Mad River Valley is also home to Sugarbush and Mad River Glen, two of Vermont’s more popular ski resorts.

Warren Vermont Is an extremely small location where Sugarbush Ski Resort is located. It’s the third largest ski resort in the US and like most of the other resorts on this list, Sugarbush offers XC skiing, snowshoeing and also ice fishing.

I really like that Sugarbush has a page on it’s website specifically for 20-somethings, giving them discounts and ideas for eating, barcrawling (mainly in nearby Waitsville) and lodging.  Try the Tevere Hostel if you want to pursue a less traditional lodging approach (and check out my hostel post if you’ve never stayed in one yourself). Another fun lodging option might be the Slide Brook Lodge , which is a mile from Sugarbush and ten from Mad River Glen. It’s maintained like an old fashioned ski lodge so you can rent a room for $50 where you share a bathroom with others guests or for a steeper price have a private bathroom. For $1000 you could also rent the entire lodge. The lodge also has a restaurant and tavern

Mad River Glen is considered by many to be the most challenging ski area on the east coast. It’s a bit unorthodox with a single chair ski lift (the only one of its kind in the continental US, the other is in Alaska) and very little grooming or professional snow making. It’s one of three areas that completely bans snowboarding and is known for “tree skiing.”

There’s a ton of Cross Country skiing options besides for Sugarbush, as well as snow shoeing, including an option for a full moon trek.

Some off-beat options include Sail-Plane riding, horseback riding, on the only Icelandic horse farm in the US or  skijoring, a mix of XC ski and dogsledding

Mad River Valley has 25 craft breweries scattered around. . They have a Vermont Bed and Brew package which sounds amazing. For just $85 a night you get lodging and a bus to take you to several breweries on a Saturday.

Blueberry Lake is maintained for swimming and boating in the summer and has a nearby XC ski resort . Clearwater Sports offers rafting and tubing on the river and paddleboard yoga on Blueberry Lake in the summer. During the winter they offer a range of fun tours from maple sugar gathering snowshoe trips to “rocket sled” trek which includes 5.5 miles of snowshoeing and a whopping 1.5 miles of sledding. And for the truly adventurous, the Punch Bowl Swimming Hole is infamous in the valley for its laissez faire attitude regarding bathing suits.

Added bonus: Burlington, Vermont is only a short drive away.

Check out the Mad River Valley website. It’s a perfect idea of how a solid marketing department could really sell you a locale. I only peripherally knew about the Mad River when working on my initial article, but after viewing the website, which is super easy to use and has a ton of information have now placed it on my “places to try to get to in 2014” list.

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