Snowshoeing Wu Ledges
Photo Courtesy Clearwater Sports
If you go to a ski area but don't feel like skiing, what do you do? There are a lot of fun hikes to do in the winter. Hiking in winter is called "Snowshoeing". But you knew that already.
Here's one of our favorites: Hike from Historic Waitsfield Village to the Wu Ledges! Wait a minute, you say, what the heck is a Wu Ledge?
A couple of years ago, a generous family donated land to the town of Waitsfield for the purpose of preservation and recreation, and the parcel is named after them. The land rises to about 600' elevation from the Valley floor, and has a nice look-out ledge with a 270º view to the west. Family name = Wu Geologic formation = Ledges. The parcel is bound roughly by the Mad River to the west, Joslin Hill Rd to the North, East Warren Road to the east, and private land to the south. There is no public access to the trails except through the privately owned Waitsfield Village Cemetery on Joslin Hill Rd., so just be respectful please.
This hike takes about an hour to complete, depending on how long you stop to enjoy the view. Park behind the shops at Bridge Street in historic Waitsfield Village. Carry your poles & snowshoes through the covered bridge and stop to take a picture. Snowshoes! Covered Bridge! can you believe how lucky you are?
Pinch yourself, then continue up Joslin Hill Rd. You can check out the cemetery on your right (about 1/4 mile.) The historic gravesites (lots of Joslins, Longs, Graves, and Vasseurs here) paint a picture of life in the 19th century. There used to be a church at the front of this site, which is why there is an empty space between the road and the tombstones.
Continue up the hill, onto East Warren Road. Take the first right onto Pine Hill Lane. Look for a trail that goes off to the right, just below the house at the top. Follow the path through deciduous forests, and take a left at the intersection. Follow the path up the hill, continuing up and south for about 3/4 of a mile. The path veers west; follow that until you feel a fresh breeze. Go west and relax at the stone outcropping, or ledge, that faces west for as long as you like.
You'll see all three ski areas, plus a panoramic view of Irasville/Waitsfield Shopping District, and the ancient, still working farms that line the Mad River. For the return, head back the way you came or follow the path north, high above the river high along a forested ledge. All of the paths will reconnect with the cemetery path. Head back to your car, and stop in at the Sweet Spot for a cup of hot chocolate and something great to eat. Or get some beer & heartier food from the Village Grocery across Route 100.
You can also drive through the bridge, go up East Warren Road, and take a right onto Hastings Road. At the top of Hastings Road, follow the circle around to the opposite side, where there is a small (3 car) parking area. A trail leading to the network starts from here.
Remember, never underestimate that you are out in nature. Bring water, and a headlamp and compass might be a good idea too. The trails are cleared but not well marked, and might take longer than you expect.