Winter Trail Use Policy

The Sugarbush Ski Resort and the United States Forest Service (“USFS”) encourage use of public lands. Please be aware that Sugarbush is located on both private and public land. Sugarbush Ski Resort operates under a permit issued by the USFS to Summit Ventures LLC. While enjoying these private and permitted lands, you must abide by Sugarbush Ski Resort’s rules and USFS restrictions and recommendations, including those summarized below and outlined in our winter operating plan. Any violations of these rules may result in suspension of lift privileges or prosecution for a criminal offense. 

The following summary of restrictions and recommendations for Trail Use and Uphill Access to Sugarbush Ski Resort is provided for your information and education; and in an effort to enhance the use of public lands by you and others. Other restrictions may exist from time to time. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Rules of Use – Special Restrictions
  • Winter Uphill Travel Policy
  • Trail Use
  • Off Trail Policy: (as published in Trail Map)
  • Snowmobiles
  • Sledding Policy
  • § 1037. Acceptance of inherent risks
  • § 1038. Skiing off designated ski trails; collision; duty to report; recovery for rescue expenses

Rules of Use – Special Restrictions

Only those rules of use that address legitimate health and safety concerns, or that unduly interfere with the holder’s operation of its business, will be approved by the Forest Service. Every rule of use will be submitted to the Forest Service and approved in writing by an authorized officer before it may be enforced at the site.

  • The lifts and trails are designed for use by the skiing guest using alpine skis, Nordic skis, snowboards, snowbikes or mono-skis, affixed to their feet by a range of binding systems.
  • The use of certain disabled skier skiing devices are permitted on all lifts and trails.
  • Each ski or board shall have in operation a strap or other device capable of stopping the ski, should it become detached from the skier.
  • Bulky and carried items such as large backpacks, snowplay items, hang gliders, para gliders, etc. will not be allowed on the lifts.
  • Sledding is prohibited unless authorized in designated areas and times.
  • Dogs must be leashed while within the ski area boundary, and are not allowed on ski trails during the winter operating season.
  • Public use of snowmobiles are prohibited on Sugarbush Ski Resort trails at all times.
  • Use of ski trails at the Resort during operating hours require a ticket or pass.
  • Skiing on closed trails or terrain features is prohibited.
  • Open trails are listed at and at Guest Services.

Winter Uphill Travel Policy

  • Uphill travel is provided to ticket - or pass-holders in order to access open areas during operating hours. Uphill travel is provided via the lift system, except under special circumstances (i.e. lift mechanical failure or weather hold, or special events) when uphill travel may be provided by vehicles or by hiking or skinning.

Hiking/Skinning Policy

Change to hiking and skinning policy: Hiking or skinning on designated trails at both Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen is not permitted before the mountains open for the winter season, nor is hiking or skinning permitted during the operating hours of the resort.

Hiking or skinning is permitted once the mountains are open, before and after operating hours at both mountains, with the following provisions:

At Lincoln Peak

  • between the hours of 5 PM to 10 PM on the following trail: Easy Rider to Lower Pushover to Pushover to Birch Run.
  • between the hours of 4 AM to 7 AM on the following trails: Racer’s Edge to Lower Snowball to Snowball to the top of the Valley House Chair.
  • Due to plowing, parking for hiking and skinning is provided at Lincoln Peak in the heli lot, to the right of The Schoolhouse.

At Mount Ellen

  • between the hours of  5 PM to 10 PM and 4 AM to 7 AM on the following trails: Easy Does It to Straight Shot to Cruiser to Lower Rim Run to Rim Run.
  • Due to plowing, parking for hiking and skinning is provided at Mt. Ellen in the lot next to the Sunny Double lift.

There will be times when skinning and hiking is closed due to weather conditions. Please check the Sugarbush snow report before proceeding. 

Hiking and Skinning during operating hours may be authorized under special circumstances (i.e. lift mechanical failure or weather hold, or special events) Hiking or skinning during operating hours on designated trails requires a day ticket or season pass and is only permitted when specifically authorized by the Resort (these routes are only open when the weather and conditions permit). Please call Guest Services at 802-583-6590 for current designated route.

Hikers and skinners must adhere to the following rules:

  • Mountain operations take place AT ALL TIMES.  This includes grooming, snowmaking, transportation of materials and personnel, and other activities.  STAY AWAY from all resort operations and machinery.
  • Hikers/Skinners must hold a valid “Uphill Travel Pass” available at no cost at the Guest Services desk at Lincoln Peak.
  • Hike and skin in a single-file line, on the side of the trail.
  • Hike and skin on designated trail going up, and ski or ride on same trail going down.
  • Dogs are not allowed.
  • Be aware that there are numerous inherent risks associated with skinning and hiking at the resort.
  • While our lifts may not be running, our mountain is still operating.  This includes snowmobiles, grooming machines, snowmaking equipment, winch cats and more. 
  • Winching involves a grooming machine hooked up to a long cable under a tremendous amount of force.  Our operators will utilize beacon lights when performing this extremely hazardous activity.  NEVER GO NEAR A WINCH CAT.
  • Overnight stays on the mountain are prohibited.
  • Do not hike or skin on a closed trail.
  • All Terrain Parks & Park Features are off-limits.
  • Tubing and/or sledding of any kind is prohibited at all times.

What to Know Before You Go:

  • Your Responsibility Code applies at all times.  Please follow it.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. This includes closed trails.  Stay on designated routes only.
  • Never go alone.  Always hike in groups of 3.  Remember we do not have Ski Patrol services at night.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go.  Our mountain weather can change very quickly.
  • Dress appropriately for the conditions.
  • Bring a cell phone with you.  In the event of an emergency, call 911.  Insure you pay attention to your specific location, including trail names.
  • When hiking in the dark, wear a headlamp and bright, reflective clothing.
  • YOU ASSUME THE RESPONSIBILITY for accessing our ski trails outside of operating hours.  In the event you require emergency response, you will be responsible for all costs incurred as a result.

After the mountains have closed for the season, hiking/skinning is permitted.

This new policy is for the benefit of our customers. Disregard for the policy rules and conditions may result in revocation of the skinning and hiking privilege.

Trail Use

  • Ski trails are intended for use only by downhill skiers (including snowboarders and users of other approved devices), with lift tickets or passes, during operating hours.
  • Skiing on closed trails or terrain features is prohibited.
  • Open or Closed status is identified by rope and/or signage and daily trail reports.
  • All trails are considered closed outside of normal operating hours or operating season.
  • The skiing of wooded areas outside of designated trails is subject to Sugarbush Resort’s Off Trail Policy.

Skier/Rider Responsibility Code

Skiing and Riding is a fun sport, but it can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal, if certain rules are not followed.  The National Ski Areas Association issued a Skier/Rider Responsibility Code that all ski areas abide by, including Sugarbush. The seven points of the code are as follows:

  1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

We ask all our guests and employees to abide by the Responsibility Code. Additionally, there are consequences for failure to abide by our policies regarding skiing/riding on closed terrain and reckless skiing/riding.

Skiing/Riding on Closed Terrain

At Sugarbush, we rely on our Ski Patrol to conduct trail checks to assess when each trail has sufficient coverage to open to the public. A dusting of snow can make a trail look ready for skiing, when in actuality, there may be a water bar or other obstacle underneath. Other times, trails have sufficient snow coverage for a handful of skiers, but if the trail is opened to the public, that snow will be skied off and will delay the opening of the trail. Other times, our mountain operations team is running dangerous machinery on a trail, and a skier/rider collision with that machinery could result in extreme harm.

Our ski patrol works very aggressively to open trails as soon as they are deemed safe. Until Ski Patrol has cleared a trail and dropped the ropes, the trail is closed. We require everyone to follow the rules we put in place for safe skiing and riding.

A first offense for skiing/riding on closed terrain will result in the loss of a season pass for a week, or the revocation of a day ticket. A second offense will result in the loss of a season pass for the season, or the revocation of another day ticket. 

Reckless Skiing/Riding

Reckless Skiing/Riding will not be tolerated at Sugarbush. Reckless Skiing/Riding can refer to any skier or rider who is skiing/riding at excessive speed, failing to pay attention to skiers/riders around him/her, failing to slow down at intersections, performing dangerous jumps, or endangering other skier/riders. It can sometimes be difficult to define reckless skiing/riding, but we know it when we see it.

A first offense for reckless skiing/riding will result in the loss of a season pass for a week, or the revocation of a day ticket. A second offense will result in the loss of a season pass for the season, or the revocation of a day ticket.  

We take your safety very seriously. Please respect the rules we have put in place to protect you.

Off Trail Policy:  (as published in Trail Map)

  • Wooded areas between open trails are not patrolled and have no skier/snowboarder services.
  • If you ski/snowboard in wooded areas, you are solely responsible for yourself.
  • Enter and exit only from marked open trails.
  • You should be an expert skier/snowboarder.
  • Do not ski/ride alone. Unmarked obstacles exist throughout.

“Caution: If you ski/ride in areas other than open and designated trails, you are voluntarily accepting additional responsibility for injury or death. When you enter areas between or outside designated trails, you have entered the unknown. These areas are not maintained or patrolled. You are assuming risks that may include getting lost or suffering other harm or injury.”


  • Public use of snowmobiles is prohibited on Sugarbush Ski Resort trails at all times.

Any violations of these rules may result in suspension of lift privileges or prosecution for a criminal offense.

Sledding Policy

  • Sledding or tobogganing can be a fun winter pastime, but this activity is not appropriate on our ski slopes and trails as they aren’t designed for this activity. Sledding on ski slopes and trails can be hazardous due to:
    • the steepness of the slope,
    • the firmness of the snow,
    • the presence of skiers and snowboarders,
    • the presence of vehicles, such as snowmobiles and snow grooming equipment,
    • the presence of obstacles such as trees, fences, buildings, snowmaking equipment and lift towers and limited or inadequate run-out to slow or stop the sleds.
  • Sledding on the trails or within the ski area boundary is not permitted by guests. This applies to any type of device that can be used for sledding including, but not limited to, sleds, toboggans, tubes or saucers and other devices such as shovels, pads, or trays.

Due to the hazards and risks noted above, Sugarbush Resort wants to reinforce the message of No Sledding on Ski Slopes.

Any violations of these rules may result in suspension of lift privileges or prosecution for a criminal offense.

§ 1037. Acceptance of inherent risks

Notwithstanding the provisions of section 1036 of this title, a person who takes part in any sport accepts as a matter of law the dangers that inhere therein insofar as they are obvious and necessary. (Added 1977, No. 119 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Feb. 7, 1978.)

§ 1038. Skiing off designated ski trails; collision; duty to report; recovery for rescue expenses

(a) Use of ski area facilities. No ski area, its owners, employees or agents shall be held responsible for ensuring the safety of or for damages, including injury or death, resulting to persons who utilize the facilities of a ski area to access terrain outside open and designated ski trails. Ski areas shall not be liable for damages, including injury or death, to persons who venture beyond such open and designated ski trails.