Country Ski Center in Ripton, Vermont
By Allison Flint | December 12, 2011
The winter season brings visitors to Vermont for all types of skiing and snowboarding.
The last few years have been ideal for winter sports, so many resorts, trails and even cross-country runs can be crowded. Beat the crowds by coming to a little known gem - Middlebury College’s ski areas. Both alpine and cross-country areas opened in early December, 2011.
Rikert Ski Touring Center in Ripton, Vermont has something for everyone; open fields, woods, groomed trails and back country.
The center is a Middlebury College facility but it’s not just for students and alum, and is open to anyone searching for a pristine trail of natural snow in the mountains of Vermont.
Set on the western slopes of the Green Mountains, on the Breadloaf Campus of Middlebury College, Rikert is an “an uncut diamond” according to Michael Hussey, Director of Operations. Recently hired to run the Ski Center, Hussey plans to bring the facilities into the 21st century. Their technological improvements will enhance what is already a sophisticated trail system enjoyed by former Olympians and life-long skiers.
While the facilities hearken back to days gone by with a woodstove and antiquated furniture in the lodge, the trails and equipment rival any ski area. It is ripe for discovery and ready for travelers to explore the 26 miles of carefully groomed trails for all levels of skill and experience. Their impressive selection of recently upgraded rental equipment provides everything that is needed for either the day or the season.
Rikert Center is the home terrain of the Middlebury College and Middlebury Union High School Nordic teams, hosting races and regional competitions through the winter. The Bill Koch Festival descends on Rikert this year in January and February, giving young skiers from all over New England an opportunity to race and savor the trails.
All trails are open most weekends (check the website for up-to-date information) and is very well suited for the casual skier. The lodge offers a nostalgic rest in front of the woodstove, a chance to take a break from the trails, or a warm waiting room while others are still out.
Just to the south in Goshen, Vermont, you’ll find the Blueberry Hill Inn and Ski Center, with its own extensive system of trails. Visitors to the area can stay at the Blueberry Hill Inn and enjoy their gourmet dining and walk out of the inn and onto the ski trails. State trails connect to Rikert, so combined, there are hours and hours of skiing.
Just up the mountain from Rikert, a couple of miles east on Vermont Route 125, is the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, a three-lift alpine ski area with trails for beginners to experts. Offering full instruction programs, anyone can ski or board on this mountain, challenging for those who want it, gentle for those who need it.
With Rikert at the center of any visit, enjoy what the Green Mountains can offer for skiing, hiking, and fine dining. The unrivalled facilities make for a perfect winter getaway in Vermont.
Rikert Ski Touring Center
Route 125, Ripton, VT 05766