Outward & Onward
Dorset’s natural beauty is best enjoyed by getting outside. Dorset offers well-maintained hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and mountain biking trails that wind through woods and backcountry settings, a historic and challenging private golf course, and nearby Merck Forest & Farmland Center. Also nearby is big mountain skiing and a pristine quarry for in-season swimming – and that’s just getting started. Looking for a slower pace? Pack a picnic and discover what makes Dorset so special with a relaxing drive along the scenic Stone Valley Byway. Photo by Abby Lalor
Hiking & Walking
The Green Mountain State is home to more than 700 miles of hiking trails. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly stroll or want to spend the day in the clouds with jaw-dropping views, it’s at your fingertips here in Dorset. Owls Head Town Forest offers an expansive trail network leading to the Gettysburg Quarry, Lower Prince Quarry, and Gilbert Lookout. For those looking for a slower pace, we recommend the Pinnacle and Cutler Memorial Forest. Replicating a ruin from the English countryside, the Pinnacle includes 35-acres of forested land, making it perfect fit for those looking to spend an hour in nature. Cutler Memorial Forest features quaint walking trails and access to the Mettawee River. Click here for maps of Dorset hikes.
With all its mountains and valleys, Dorset provides perfect mountain biking terrain. Northshire Area Trail Systems, a local chapter of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, works to develop new trails and maintain existing ones. Dorset is home to Humphrey’s Trail, a single-track loop located at the end of Church Street that winds through the hills nearly 2.5 miles, and Bunker Loop, an extension of Humphrey’s Trail that adds another mile and a steep climb. Northshire Area Trail Systems is currently constructing a 3.9-mile trail on Netop Mountain in the Dorset Hollow, just off Grouse Lane. Once completed, the trail will provide unparalleled access to the hiking trail that leads to the top of Dorset Mountain.
Swimming & Summer Activities
East Dorset is home to Emerald Lake State Park. Conveniently located between Manchester and Rutland, Emerald Lake State Park is well-loved for its wooded hillside campground, beach and swimming area, and nearby attractions. Emerald Lake encompasses 20-acres and – restricted to non-motorized watercraft – is ideal for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Another great place to cool off in the sizzling summer sun is the Dorset Quarry, a massive 60-foot-deep fresh-water swimming hole.
Conserved Recreational Land
Merck Forest and Farmland Center is a non-profit educational organization that teaches and demonstrates the benefits of sustainable agriculture and forest management on its 3,200 acre property. Merck Forest and Farmland Center offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including rustic backcountry camping, and over 30 miles of forest trails for hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. MFFC regularly hosts events to engage adults, children and families alike to get outside and enjoy the activities on a natural and working landscape.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Stratton Mountain Resort is located about an hour away from Dorset and offers some of the best skiing and riding in Vermont, with 97 trails, 600+ acres of terrain, and a bustling slope-side village. Stratton provides a full slate of activities for the whole family, including snowshoe hikes, ice skating, and Fat Bike rentals in the winter months and yoga, mountain biking, kayaking, and more in the summer.
Bromley Mountain Ski Resort is located just 20 minutes from Dorset. Bromley is a family-friendly ski resort, with a centralized base area and children-specific programming. As New England’s only south-facing ski resort, Bromley has softer snow, warmer temperatures, slope-side lodging, and diverse terrain, with 47 trails cover 178 acres served by nine lifts. The fun doesn’t stop when the snow melts. During the warmer months, Bromley’s Adventure Parks offer a variety of activities for all ages, including the big splash water slide, mini golf, alpine slide, Sun Mountain Flyer, and more.
Magic Mountain calls to skiers and riders who want to challenge themselves, with one-of-a-kind terrain. The trails are narrow and twisting, descending 1,500 vertical feet to two summit lifts. The resort’s original 1960s-style trails provide an interesting and fun experience for all ability levels with true vertical skiing. You don’t have to ski or ride to enjoy the slopes of Magic Mountain. It’s also home to one of the best tube parks on the east coast.
The fun at Dorset Field Club doesn’t stop when the golf course closes for the season. Starting in the late fall, a spirited group of club members focus on winter sports. Dorset Field Club offers paddle tennis on its three heated and well-lit paddle courts, as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the Club’s 2.5 miles of groomed trails. Members looking to get out of the cold can enjoy the fitness center and golf simulators, which are available year-round.
Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home was the summer residence of Robert, son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and his wife, Mary. Hildene is open year-round, and the Welcome Center, Pullman Car, and House are a perfect way to spend a snowy day. Become a Hildene member and ski free all season! During the winter months, they open their trails to cross-country skiers and snowshoers, offering rentals for those who don’t have their own equipment. With 12 miles of trails on the estate, there’s terrain with varying levels of difficulty. Visitors should note that most of the trails are natural and ungroomed.
Viking Nordic Center in nearby Londonderry provides the perfect winter getaway for everyone in the family. Their groomed trails are loved by expert snow enthusiasts and first-time visitors alike, with options for all levels of skiers. Viking Nordic Center also has a full service ski shop, offering rentals and lessons by trained instructors, a cafe, warming hut and sun deck, and more. For those that don’t ski, the Center offers snowshoe rentals and an expanded snowshoe-only trail (but snowshoers are allowed on any trail).
Wild Wings Ski Touring Center is a family-friendly Nordic ski touring center located in Peru, a town just 30 minutes from Dorset. Nestled in the Green Mountain National Forest, Wild Wings’ trail system includes loop trails for all skill levels. In addition to classic cross-country skiing, Wild Wings also offers a 3k trail for classic and skate skiing. The Center includes a fully-stocked rental shop with equipment for all ages.