Getting Outside with Teens:Hiking and Mountain Biking at Mount Snow Skip to Content

Getting Outside with Teens: Hiking and Mountain Biking at Mount Snow

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As a parent, one of my goals has always been to encourage my kids to explore and love the outdoors. This was easy when they were younger, but the teenage years have thrown a whole new set of challenges our way. A full school schedule, jobs, and extracurricular activities compete for their precious time. They’re happier on their phones than I would like, and the allure of camping, hiking, and exploring the woods with their parents has definitely worn off. So how are we getting our teens outside these days?

With a healthy dose of risk and adventure.

Two boys ride the mountain biking trails at Mount Snow in Vermont.

Mountain biking provides just enough risk to be awesome for kids.

Teenagers are programmed to take risks, at least that’s what scientists at University College London concluded in a 2010 study. Providing teens with a positive outlet for risky behavior promotes healthy neurological development and growth, and it also helps prevent more dangerous, and sometimes illegal, risk-taking behavior.

While I personally have no need for an adrenaline rush to get me outside, my kids are always game for such shenanigans. We have started to seek out more adventurous activities when we travel, and our kids are thanking us for it. We recently discovered downhill mountain biking at Mount Snow here in Southern Vermont, and while we’ve all biked on rugged terrain before, riding the lift with bikes in tow and barreling down a mountain a full speed was a definite first. 

Rowan riding a fast down a Mount Snow mountain biking trail in Vermont.

A disclaimer here: I actually spent the day hiking this beautiful mountain, but I made sure to catch up with the guys l

Mount Snow Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a long-standing tradition at Mount Snow, and adventurers have been tearing up the trails here for more than 30 years. Beginners and experts alike can take to the mountain, and we saw plenty of little kids getting in on the action. There are 9 downhill trails requiring a lift pass and two cross-country trails that begin and end at the base of the mountain.

The Mount Snow mountain biking trail map

The Mount Snow summer trail map

Although, my guys have their own mountain bikes at home, we chose to rent bikes that were more fit for the rugged downhill terrain. Mount Snow Sports at the Grand provides DH full suspension bike rentals or hardtails for cross country riding. Riders can also rent pads and helmets for a nominal fee.

After donning an array of serious protective padding and a helmet that made me a little nervous, the guys headed over to the Canyon Express for their first run. They were advised to start slow on trail # 7, also known as the Gateway Trail, to find their biking mojo. Gateway is a relatively gentle 3-mile track, where the guys practiced their downhill stances, plus a lot of braking and turning, before racing back to the lift for another run. It was obvious that my skiers were beyond thrilled to be on the mountain again.

My two boys and husband on their rented mountain bikes getting ready to hit the trails at Mount Snow.

My two boys and husband on their rented mountain bikes getting ready to hit the trails at Mount Snow.

Three guys riding the lift up to the top of Mount Snow in Vermont.

Riding the lift to the top of Mount Snow

 

My youngest, Gabe, was actually quite happy riding trail #7 over and over again, gaining speed and confidence with each descent, but Eric and Rowan quickly graduated to more difficult trails, and each time I saw them, they were full of stories about jumps, and berms, and bridges.

Mountain biking on the trails at Mount Snow.

Hitting a nice jump

Their favorite trails of the day were Evolver (#6) and Bullwhip (#9).  Evolver is an intermediate trail through the woods, with lots of cool turns and banks. They loved the smooth ride and the variety of features. Bullwhip is a more difficult trail, with good opportunities for catching speed and air. Each time I spotted those boys, whether on the lift, on the trails, or chilling with a cold drink, their smiles were bigger and their faces dirtier. At 5 pm, they took the last lift up for one final ride, and they were all grins amidst the dust as they coasted back to Mount Snow Sports to return their equipment.

Riding the trails at Mount Snow

Riding the wood trails


Riding the trails at Mount Snow in Southern Vemront

Hiking at Mount Snow

If you’re like me, and you don’t have the need for speed, you can still enjoy a day on the mountain. There are hiking trails for every fitness level, and even non-hikers can enjoy an easy walk on the summit trail after catching the Bluebird Express to the top. Most of the hiking trails follow wide, open ski trails, so sunblock and sunglasses are a must.

A view of the Bluebird Express chairlift on Mount Snow from one of the hiking trails in the summer.

The chairlift from one of the hiking trails on Mount Snow

I wanted to spend a good portion of my day watching and photographing the bikers, so I chose the quickest, but most difficult path to the summit, the Highline Trail. It was definitely steep, and trekking poles would have been a good idea, but I did okay without them.  

I didn’t see another soul on the trail, and it was a little disconcerting to get to the top and find a bustling restaurant and a crowd of people admiring the view! I rewarded myself with a cold drink on the deck of the Bullwheel and hiked back down to Somerset Road to try and catch my kiddos on camera.

Mountain biking through a meadow trail at Mount Snow.

The trails go through woods and meadows.

Hiking at Mount Snow isn’t wilderness hiking, but it’s a great way to work up a sweat while your kids are partaking in risky behaviors.

The monarch butterflies were out in full force.

lovely monarch butterflies on milkweed flowers

Lovely monarchs on milkweed flowers

And I even saw a bit of wildlife.

A lone woodchuck hanging out on a rock wall at Mount Snow.

A lone woodchuck hanging out on a rock wall

Visiting Mount Snow in the Summer

The Canyon Express and Bluebird Express lifts operate from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 to 5 all summer long. In the fall, after the kids go back to school, the lifts are open from Friday to Sunday, 10 to 5. The Bluebird Express lift is open until 7 pm every Saturday, starting in July, and daily during peak foliage season (best to call ahead).

The Bluebird express lift at Mount Snow at dusk

The Bluebird Express at dusk

Beginner mountain bikers, or anyone looking to expand their knowledge and skills, can sign up for a variety of clinics and lessons run by experienced bikers. All Mountain Mamas has a great write-up about their experience with the First Lift Program – for kids and adults who are new to mountain biking.

Mount Snow Sports

Mount Snow Sports

There are four eateries open throughout the summer and fall, serving all kinds of fare at every price range. The Bullwheel, where I relaxed after my hike, is perched on top of the mountain and has live music on Saturdays, incredible views, and a good variety of local beers on tap.

Mountain Biking at Mount Snow is a great way to get outside with your teens, and the Green Mountains are a beautiful backdrop for all kinds of adventures, whether you crave a shot of adrenaline, or just want to enjoy the ride.

Sunset Mount Snow

Sunset from the top of the lift. The lake is Somerset Reservoir in the Green Mountain National Forest.


Want to read more about all the fun adventures you can have in Vermont? Check out these posts:


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Two photos: One of a mountain biker and the other of a mountain sunset. Caption Reads: Hiking and Biking at Mount Snow VermontA young boy rides a mountain bike over a jump. Caption reads Mountain biking with kids at Mount Snow Vermont

We’d like to extend our gratitude to Mount Snow, who provided us with complimentary lift passes and equipment rentals so we could write this post, but as always, our opinions are entirely our own. 

 

 

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Saturday 24th of December 2016

It is good to see the Resort investing in quality updates for the attractions. These kinds of things will help make the area even better than it already is.

Linda

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

I think this is a wonderful way to bring families together. Even if kids don't thank you in the beginning, they grow to love the adventures of cycling as their confidence builds. You've got some great photos here too.

Lisa Grabelle

Friday 9th of September 2016

This looks like so much fun! What an adventurous family you have. I love the idea that there are things to do there all seasons of the year

Cass

Sunday 4th of September 2016

Oh gosh this brings me back! People used to do this at the mountain where we had a cabin as a teen and I always thought it looked terrifying! I stuck to running. Guess I missed that reckless drive :p

Arti

Saturday 3rd of September 2016

Hi Tara. It's been a long time since I stopped by here. It looks like you've had a great summer. There is so much I can relate to in this post. It was easier to go on hikes when they were young and yes, 'they’re happier on their phones than I would like.' You're right-- they need a sense of adventure to enjoy the outdoors. LOVE your photos and like always, they transport me to your part of the world. Thank you:)

Tara

Thursday 8th of September 2016

Thanks so much for visiting, Arti! What a busy summer we've had. Can't wait to come and visit your blog next.