Recreation-based tourism has a long history in Stowe and is the focus of the local economy today. Since the construction of the first single chair ski lift on Mount Mansfield in 1940, Stowe Mountain Resort has grown to host more than 350,000 skier visits each year. Trapp Family Lodge and the Stowe Mountain Resort Nordic Center continue to support the long-standing tradition of Nordic skiing on 147 miles of trails. Hiking was the number one outdoor recreation activity reported by second home owners in Stowe in a recent survey, and Stowe is fast becoming a premiere destination for mountain biking. The five-mile Stowe Recreation Path, 70 miles of hiking trails, and 30 miles of biking trails are officially open to the public. Many more miles of informal trails – mostly across private land – provide neighborhood access and vital links between formal networks. Dispersed recreation, such as hunting, fishing and backcountry skiing are also important and popular activities. Recreation fields, sledding hills, parks, and other community outdoor spaces are also vital resources for the community.
Stowe Land Trust works to protect public access to and between community recreation areas.