The Catamount Trail: A 300-Mile Ski Trail
● By Ryan Frisch
The Catamount Trail (CT) is a 300-mile public-access,
winter-use only, ski trail that runs the length of Vermont from Massachusetts
to Canada. It is a cross-country ski trail that has been in the making since
1984 and was fully linked together in 2008. Thousands of skiers and snowshoers
take to the trail every winter season — most for the day, many on Catamount
Trail Association (CTA) tours, and some to ski end-to-end — all enjoying the
backcountry, touring center, farmland and village surroundings along the way.
The CT is characterized by great diversity – both in terms of the difficulty of the route and the remoteness of the various sections. There is something for everyone, regardless of your ability level and the time available. The CT passes through the groomed trail systems of 10 nordic ski centers and also traverses remote sections of wilderness within several Vermont State Forests and the Green Mountain National Forest. Inn to Inn skiing is available in some areas of the state.
The CTA is a non-profit, member-driven organization that develops, manages, and conserves the CT. The CTA builds partnerships to support the Trail, and fosters awareness and stewardship of Vermont's diverse landscapes through promotion and use of the Trail. The organization also advocates backcountry and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for the quality of life, recreational, health, economic and educational benefits they provide.
The CTA organizes over 50 special events and guided tours annually. The special events include the Ladies Nordic Ski Expo, the Get Out and Backcountry Ski Festival, the Catamount Trail Challenge, and the North Face Race To The Top Of Vermont. Along with all the single-day events and tours, the CTA also hosts two week-long tours and two four-day tours each winter. In addition, the Catamount Ski Cubs Program introduces the sport of cross-country skiing to youth who might otherwise not have access to the sport. More information on all these events is available on our website under the Events Tab.
Approximately 165 miles of the 300-mile Catamount Trail cross private land (the remaining miles are located on state and federal land). To date, over 80 of the 165 miles of the Trail that cross private land have been permanently conserved with easements held by CTA or a conservation partner. The remaining miles are vulnerable to closure due to development pressure and changing ownership. Since 1998, the number of landowners that host the Trail has more than doubled as a result of subdivision and sales. In response to this threat, CTA developed a Trail Protection Program and works to permanently conserve the trail corridor. CTA works with willing landowners to acquire permanent trail easements across their properties by purchase and by donation. CTA also partners with the state of Vermont, the Green Mountain National Forest, and many land trusts and conservation groups on conservation projects that include the Catamount Trail within a given parcel’s boundaries.
The CTA, based in Burlington, publishes the Catamount Trail Guidebook, a complete section-by-section guide to the 300-mile trail. Learn more about the CTA, its winter tours, and other special events held throughout the year at www.catamounttrail.org.