Winter's Gems on Summer Days
No snow? No problem.
There’s a saying in mountain towns: You come
for the winter and you stay for the summer. That’s because these places feature a bounty
of adventures to keep any outdoor enthusiast, not just ski bums, smiling all year around—like the activities available in the following places.
Lake Tahoe, California
“Every weekend in Tahoe is a two-sport weekend,” says Dan Abrams, co-founder of FlyLow Gear (flylowgear.com), which is headquartered in Tahoe City. “Pick your poison: Trail running, hiking or mountain biking and then jump on a SUP (standup paddleboard) and paddle out onto the lake.” Sounds pretty ideal. (While it’s too late to catch this year’s four-day Wanderlust yoga and wellness festival at Tahoe, go to wanderlust.com to check out next year’s lineup.)
There are plenty of trails to explore in the Tahoe area. For instance, catch parts of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, in multiple locations. Or try the Rubicon Trail, which is 12.3 miles out and back; starting from D.L. Bliss State Park (search at parks.ca.gov), the trail will take you through the forest and to Emerald Bay. And you can check out the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail around the lake; it contains plenty of shorter segments great for day hikers and backpackers.
Mountain bikers have their pick of single-track trails. The Tahoe Flume Trail (flumetrailtahoe.com) is a classic ride along the lake; take the shuttle from the Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village (tunnelcreekcafe.com)—which features light bites, beer and coffee—to the trailhead. For something more challenging, try the Stanford Rock Loop (search at mtbproject.com), one of Abrams’ favorites. It’s a big climb (you’ll gain 2,000 vertical feet) with a technical descent and good views of Desolation Wilderness and the Pacific Crest Trail. If you’re just getting started, Northstar (northstarcalifornia.com) runs a lift-served mountain bike park.
Clip onto a steel cable and scale one of Squaw Valley’s iconic rock faces along the Via Ferrata, aka “Iron Road” (tahoevia.com). You’ll gain 1,000+ feet over 1.5 miles and be treated to unparalleled views of Olympic Valley along this protected climbing route. And don’t worry: You’re strapped into a harness the whole time, so you don’t have to be an expert climber.
Kayak and SUP
Rent a clear-bottom kayak from Clearly Tahoe (clearlytahoe.com) and explore the pristine (and chilly!) waters of Lake Tahoe. Scuba divers and snorkelers can explore four sunken ships along the new Maritime Heritage Trail in
Emerald Bay (search at parks.ca.gov).
While The Green Mountain State is known for its classic New England skiing, the long summer days are the perfect time to explore its non-snow offerings.
One of Vermont’s most iconic routes is the Long Trail, the oldest long-distance trail in the US (click on Hiking at greenmountainclub.org). Following the main ridge of the Green Mountains, the 272-mile trail runs from the Massachusetts-Vermont state border to the Canadian border. Whether you’re looking for a day hike or backcountry trip, it’s a good option for quality wilderness time. Or head towards Stowe and hike the Sunset Ridge Trail (search at rootsrated.com) to the top of Mount Mansfield, the highest point in the state. The 3.3-mile hike crosses some rocky, technical terrain in areas and views in all directions.
If running instead of hiking is your jam, don’t miss the Jay Peak Trail Run Festival (jaypeakrun.com). With eight races over two days, ranging from 5K (rated green, blue and black, just like the ski runs) to a 53.1K ultra, there’s something for everyone.
From gravel roads to single-tracks to downhill rides, Vermont touts some of the best mountain biking in the East. At the top of the list is Kingdom Trails (kingdomtrails.org) in the Northeast Kingdom. The 120 miles of single-track—from technical New England terrain to fast-and-flowing trails—are studded with fun features accessible to riders of all abilities. In the southern part of the state, head to Killington Bike Park (killington.com) for over 30 miles of trails serviced by three high-speed lifts. Check out Vermont Mountain Bike Association (vmba.org) to plan your ride.
Admit it: You’ve imagined yourself running through the American Ninja Warrior course. Now you can test your skills at the Woodward WreckTangle at Killington (killington.com
). This outdoor course features 10 challenging obstacles like spinning platters, hanging rings and Swiss doors. Plus, your pass to the Adventure Center includes unlimited use of not only the WreckTangle but also the zip line, ropes course, Beast Mountain Coaster and more.
Park City, Utah
Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, most think of Park City as a winter sports mecca but summertime ushers in a host of warm-weather adventures both on and off the mountains.
“There’s some of the best mountain biking in the country and world in Park City,” says Haley Batten (haley.batten), a Clif Pro Team rider who grew up in the area. With more than 400 miles of interconnected, single-track trails, it’s a mountain biker’s nirvana. Batten recommends the Wasatch Crest Trail (search at parkcitymountain
bike.com): Featuring flowy sections and big climbs, it’s a challenging ride but the views are worth it. Or head over to Deer Valley (deervalley.com). The resort converts the ski runs into nearly 70 miles of biking trails, which connect to the greater Park City Trail network. (Two of Batten’s faves are Moosehouse and John’s 99.) Trails are served by three chairlifts. For beginner riders, Deer Valley also hosts a mountain bike school to get you riding safely and comfortably.
There’s no shortage of hiking trails, either. Tackle this signature hike at Deer Valley: Take Ontario Canyon Trail up to Bald Mountain and Silver Lake Trail back down, passing old mining relics along the way. Après hike, treat yourself to lunch at Royal Street Cafe (search at deervalley.com) and enjoy a blueberry mojito on the deck!
Live out your Olympic dreams at Utah Olympic Park (utaholympiclegacy.org). Built to host the 2002 Olympic bobsled, skeleton, luge and Nordic ski jumping events, Olympic Park still serves as an official US Olympic training site. While you’ll learn about the park’s unique history, the main attraction is the Comet Bobsled Ride: Join a seasoned pilot for a hair-raising slide down the concrete track, rounding curves at speeds over 60 mph. Or drop down the Extreme Zip, one of the steepest ziplines in the world, or cruise on the Alpine Slide.
On the Water
Is river riding more your style? Head out for a tubing, kayak or whitewater rafting adventure on the Weber River. Multiple guides, like Utah Outdoor Adventures (utahoutdooradventures.com), operate out of Park City and will shuttle you to the river. The 9.5-mile river run through class II-III rapids will take you past Taggart Falls and Devil’s Slide.
If you’re ready for an otherworldly experience, you can practice yoga with Park City Yoga Adventures (parkcityyogaadventures.com) inside Homestead Crater atop crystal blue, therapeutic mineral water. If you fall in, don’t worry—the water is a balmy 95°. Add a sunrise or sunset hike for a truly unique adventure.