Over 270 years ago in 1763, Stowe was newly settled and centered around lumber and farming. The rich natural resources brought people to Stowe and the picturesque landscape kept them there long term. Today, Stowe is best known for its skiing in the winter and outdoor recreation in the summer. As one of only two “real” mountain resorts in the North East, Stowe’s 889′ elevation is enough to make for great skiing. But skiing isn’t the only activity here… In this article, we share things to do in Stowe VT and the best hotels in Stowe.
Editor Notes: I visited Stowe for the first time in August 2023 and stayed at the Tälta Lodge. The hotel backs up to the West Branch Little River and is located on Mountain Rd. What attracted me to this hotel was its location between downtown Stowe and the Mountain Resort. Behind the hotel, paralleling the Little River, is the Stowe Recreational Path – a 5.3 mile paved trail that connects the town. I was able to get some great runs in on this trail with my new On Cloudmonster shoes. Please note that I plan to update this post after the Winter when I’ve had a chance to ski the mountain. For now, I’ve done research on the winter sports and hotels in preparation for winter shredding. The Summer section is up to date and from my latest Summer ’23 trip that included running and mountain biking.
What to do in Stowe in the Summer
Mountain Biking in Stowe
There is no lift service mountain biking on Stowe mountain. I found this out the hard way when I showed up, fully geared up and ready to shred, only to be told that its hiking only and no cut MTB trials. Within the town of Stowe there is epic mountain bike riding from what I was told. Cody Hill Forest has incredible mountain bike trails that are meticulously maintained by the local riders in the area.
There are multiple bike rental spots nearby so getting setup and hitting the trails is relatively easy. Plus, the Stowe Rec Path connects most of the town, giving you a car free ride to the trails.
Stowe Bike Rental Near Recreation Path
There were two stores that everyone mentioned to me while I was visiting, Mountain Ops and Pinnacle Ski and Sport.
Mountain Ops Bike Rental
Mountain Ops is located at 4081 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672. The Stowe Recreational Path is located right behind the store, making Mountain Ops the best place to rent a bike for riding the Recreational Path. If you are looking for more advanced riding. Take the Rec Path towards downtown Stowe and check out Cady Hill Forest.
Pinnacle Ski & Sport
Located closer to Cody Hill Forest, Pinnacle Ski & Sport is the best place to rent a bike if you are going to ride Cady Hill. Pinnacle Ski & Sport is located at 1652 Mountain Rd, Stowe, VT 05672.
Hiking the Ski Resort
For $40 you can take the gondola to the top of Stowe Mountain – a roughly 2,200′ elevation gain. Or, for a couple hours and a bit of sweat, you can hike to the top. Whichever way you decide, the trip up is worth the cost. I opted for the budget friendly option and enjoyed every minute of the journey.
The winding Summer Road is wide and covered with loose rocks. Some areas are steeper than others so be sure to take your time and find your footing. I had a few close calls in my On Cloudmonster running shoes… I’d recommend a real hiking shoe or at least a trail running shoe. Nevertheless, I managed to get to the top without any falls.
Walking up there are some small streams from water runoff and a few decent views to be had. Once you get close to the top though the views really open up.
Once at the top, the Cliff House Restaurant is a great place to kick your feet up and grab something to eat. During the summer, the Cliff House Restaurant at the top of Stowe Mountain is open from 11am to 2:30pm.
For additional restaurants in Stowe, check out Restaurantji for menus, reviews, ratings and locations.
Editor Notes: I missed lunch at the restaurant so don’t know how the quality is. Looks like a pretty standard mountain spot though. After the long hike I would have eaten anything. Once I got rinsed off I headed to Piecasso. The pizzas are amazing and the vibe is even better. I quickly realized that Piecasso was the local hangout – partly because of the great pizza, partly because of the large draft beer selection, and mostly because it is an awesome spot!
Best Hotels in Stowe for the Summer
Tälta Lodge Stowe
I stayed at Tälta Lodge, a Bluebird by Lark hotel in Stowe VT when visiting for the first time in August 2023. Located off the main road to the ski resort, Tälta Lodge is located along the West Branch Little River that flows parallel with Mountain Rd.
Paying directly through the website, I thought I would have a better chance at getting a nice room. Something with a view of the river maybe? It was a Monday after all, how busy could they be? To my dismay, I got a tiny room right next to the lobby (room 115). My first reaction was that the room seemed to be more of an after-thought than something that would be sold as accommodations. However, the disappointment quickly diminished when I read the lovely handwritten note from the staff along with some tasty treats that were left in the room. And, after laying on the incredibly comfortable bed, my frustrations were melted away.
The second night I tested out the hot tub after hiking Stowe Mountain. Located in the back on an elevated deck, the hot tube looks out to The Little River and the treelined behind it. I had the hot tube to myself which was a nice bonus. I imagine in the winter that this would be the popular aprés spot and much busier.
Weekend Trip to Stowe from NYC
The close to six hour drive is somewhat of a deterrent for New Yorkers who are looking for weekend getaways. However, having just did the drive for only two nights, I have to say that it is worth it. Leaving early in the morning, there was light traffic and I was able to take my time driving along the Hudson River. I set the navigation for Burlington which is located on the 6th largest lake in the USA, Lake Champlain. Burlington is surrounded by a half dozen Universities and is only 45 minutes from Stowe Mountain. This lake side town features a bustling promenade and a great variety of restaurants and shops.
While I wasn’t able to get on the water this trip, the ideal start to the trip would have been a standup paddle boarding session on Lake Champlain followed by lunch in downtown Burlington before heading to Stowe to check in.
If you want to go straight to Stowe but still get active before checking, try Waterbury Reservoir. Umiak Outdoor Outfitters (Umiak.com) is located just off the road to Stowe and offers Kayake and SUP rentals. Keep some cash on hand as there is a Park Fee required to get to the reservoir