Looking uphill? Know before you go

In response to growing interest in skiing the backcountry at area resorts, a few resorts have updated their policies on uphill travel, including Killington and Sugarbush. Other resorts have existing rules that have remained unchanged.

Before you head out, or up, it’s important to know the rules of the road. Here’s a rundown of resort rules to date:


Bromley Mountain Resort is currently developing an uphill travel policy. Check their website, www.bromley.com for updates. 

Q Burke

Skiers are not allowed to hike or skin on trails during operating hours. During certain periods, hiking or skinning may be allowed on designated trails for an event, or to gain access to view a race. The resort does not recommend hiking or skinning during non-operating hours.

Bolton Valley

Uphill travel on skis is permitted at Bolton Valley under the following guidelines:

  • During hours when lifts are open, uphill skiers must have a lift ticket for the day, season pass, Nordic day ticket for the day, or Nordic season pass. Uphill skiers do so at their own risk.
  • During hours when lifts are not open, uphill skiers access Bolton Valley property at their own risk and do not need a ticket or a pass.
  • At all times the two routes designated for uphill skiing are:
    • Wilderness: Turnpike to Peggy Dow’s
    • Timberline: Twice as Nice to Woods Hole to Brandywine
    • No uphill traffic is permitted to the top of Vista.

Access to uphill skiing is limited to theses routes both during and outside of operating hours.

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain embraces uphill traffic for telemark, alpine touring (randonee), and split boarders. Magic offers free access to the mountain for anyone willing to earn turns with a few guidelines. See their website, www.magicmtn.com, for details.

Smugglers’ Notch

Much of the terrain at Smuggs is on state land. Uphill travel is allowed on the resort’s three peaks at the following times:

Morse Mountain
6 a.m. – 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. any night; please access using Garden Path or Snow Snake.
Madonna Mountain
6 a.m. – 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights; please access using Chilcoot.
Sterling Mountain
6 a.m. – 8 a.m.
No uphill traffic is allowed during operational hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekends and 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. all days.

Killington and Pico

This winter, all uphill travelers are required to have an Uphill Travel Pass with photo ID and to sign an Assumption of Risk form before accessing designated uphill travel routes at Killington and Pico. Passes must be carried by all uphill travelers at all times whenever they utilize uphill travel routes on resort property, both during operating and non-operating hours. There is no charge for an Uphill Travel Pass for anyone who has already purchased a 2014-2015 Killington or Pico season pass. Passes are available at the Killington and Pico Season Pass offices and may be used at both Killington and Pico Mountain at Killington. There is a charge for skiers who do not have a Killington or Pico ski pass.

Mad River Glen

Skiers can earn their turns when Mad River Gen is not open both pre- and post-season as well as after operating hours in-season. Skiers can access the side-country near MRG, but it is not patrolled. Signs are posted that skiers are leaving patrolled terrain. Uphill traffic is not allowed during operating hours.


Stratton recommends using designated uphill travel routes, including lower Wanderer, Upper & Lower West Meadows, Mikes Way for beginners. Lower & Upper Kidderbrook for intermediate, Lower Wanderer to Lower & Upper Liftline for the Advanced. A lower mountain loop consists of Lower Standard and Yodeler. Stratton does not recommend uphill travel during closed time due to potential hazards of mountain operations.

Jay Peak

Jay Peak does not prohibit uphill traffic when conducted inside of operating hours. Outside of operating hours up-hill traffic is prohibited.

Mount Snow

During the winter operating season, guests wishing to access the Mount Snow trail system through hiking, snowshoeing, or skinning may do so after purchasing an “Uphill Travel” ticket or be in possession of a valid season’s pass with a complimentary “Uphill Travel” endorsement. Guests are permitted to hike, snow shoe, or skin from dawn to dusk only. Guests engaging in uphill travel are responsible for knowing locations of closed terrain and trails, snowmaking, events or other operations in progress by reading the daily Snow Report.

Sugarbush (New)

Sugarbush Resort has made significant changes to its uphill travel policy this season. This winter, skiers and riders are permitted to hike or skin before and after operating hours at both mountains on designated trails.

Those interested will be required to pick up a free uphill travel pass from Guest Services prior to the first time they skin or hike. The pass will be valid all season.

To coincide with the resort’s grooming schedule, both mountains have specific designated routes for uphill and downhill travel depending on the time of day. At Lincoln Peak, uphill travel is permitted on Easy Rider to Lower Pushover to Pushover to Birch Run between the hours of 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM and Racer’s Edge to Lower Snowball to Snowball to the top of the Valley House chair between the hours of4:00 AM – 7:00 AM. Due to plowing, parking for hiking and skinning is provided at Lincoln Peak in the heli lot, located to the right of The Schoolhouse. Hikers and skinners must ski or ride down the same designated routes.

At Mt. Ellen, uphill travel is permitted on Easy Does it to Straight Shot to Cruiser to Lower Rim Run to Rim Run between the hours of 4:00 AM – 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Due to plowing parking is provided in the lot next to the Sunny Double lift.

There will be times when uphill travel is closed due to weather conditions. Skinners and hikers are asked to check the Sugarbush snow report before proceeding. Once the resort ceases operation for the winter season, hiking and skinning will be permitted. Those who are looking to boot pack uphill are asked to not hike directly in skinning tracks.


Uphill travel on resort trails is prohibited during hours of operation and the Stowe Mountain Resort does not recommend the use of trails during non-operational hours.

Evan Johnson

Evan Johnson is the staff writer for Vermont Sports Magazine. The native Vermonter enjoys steep and deep skiing and wandering all over the state by Subaru. Find him on Twitter at @evanisathome.

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