Snowshoeing Moss Glen Falls

Snowshoeing Moss Glen Falls

We have a tradition at our house: every January we break out the snowshoes, have a such a great time that we ask ourselves why we don’t do this more often, then return home and toss all our gear into a corner of the mudroom, where we forget about it until the following January. Unfortunately, if you’re trying to develop a plan to stay in shape through the winter, one two-hour hike a year is not a promising strategy.

For this year’s hopeful pilgrimage, we decided to visit Moss Glen Falls just north of Stowe (not to be confused by a waterfall of the same name near Granville). We had been out to the trailhead once this past summer, but it turned out that the path immediately crosses a small but muddy marsh near the beginning, and we didn’t think our sandals and street shoes were up to the task. With the few feet of fresh snow that came shortly after Christmas, though, we figured the Falls would make a perfect warm-up snowshoe hike on a day when we only had a couple of hours to spare.

And we were right; although it turned out that the term “hike” has to be used pretty loosely here. I had for some reason assumed it would take at least a half an hour or more to reach the falls, but the truth is that the base of the waterfall, and the ravine that it funnels through, lies just beyond the small marsh previously described. Even in deep snow, you can reach the bottom of the falls in snowshoes within a few minutes. Handily, if you want to get a little more exercise, there’s a hill that climbs the left side of the ravine.

 When we visited, the snow was packed enough that you could probably negotiate it with boots, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The crampons on snow shoes make the climb downright easy—and probably safer, since a tumble into the ravine would add an involuntary and indefinite extension to the hike. The reward achieved for so little effort is almost enough to make you feel guilty, affording great views of a spectacular little gorge that we had no idea was tucked away back there. Near the top, where the gorge flattens out into a shallow stream, we hooked up with a dirt road that was being groomed as a cross-country ski trail, but the only other person we saw during our entire visit was a woman walking her dog. We continued up the road for about a half a mile before turning back, then ducked into the trees on the downhill trip, reconnecting with the frozen marsh and the small parking area at the trailhead.

The entire hike took about an hour and a half, if that. We had begun walking around noon, and we were back at Black Cap Coffee in downtown Stowe, sharing soup and a dark roast, by two o’clock, asking ourselves, once again, why we didn’t do this more often. Then we went home and threw all of our stuff into a corner of the mudroom. Hopefully it won’t stay there for another 12 months.

Even though you can’t tell from the picture, there is water flowing under that ice.

To get there: Take Route 100 about three miles north out of Stowe village, then bear right on Randolph Road. Take another right onto Moss Glen Falls Road. Immediately before the road takes a sharp right turn, there is a parking are off to the left. It’s pretty obvious where to go from there.

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