Best American Adventures: Ski Inn-to-Inn on the Catamount Trail
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By Robert Earle Howells; Photograph by Caleb Kenna, Aurora Photos
The country’s longest ski trail is also the most brilliantly
conceived. It was dreamed up 26 years ago by three zealous backcountry
skiers, one of them a cartographer, who didn’t want just a
straight-shot wilderness route from the Massachusetts border to Quebec.
They deliberately set out to weave together the state’s best
cross-country ski areas with that most Vermont of all
So the 300-mile (483-kilometer)
Catamount Trail is not just about getting from point to point. It's
about savoring superb skiing along the way, which is likely to include
some schussing on the side in groomed backcountry ski areas, with
plenty of true wilderness in between.
To wit: Section 18 of the
trail starts in Sugarbush Valley—no secrets there—but then heads north
into ungroomed state park wilderness before rejoining civilization in
Huntington, where a number of trailside inns serve skiers. After
descending to the Winooski River Valley, the trail climbs to the Bolton
Valley Resort—more groomed trails, more lodging. The next day’s trek
starts off with an hour’s climb to the highest point on the Catamount
before a phenomenal downhill run through open glades of birch and
poplar forests to the Nebraska Valley below. When you reach the Trapp
Family Lodge the next day, you get groomed runs and cushy digs at one
of the best XC resorts in the country. You just might feel like singing
like the kids in The Sound of Music.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
So it goes on the
Catamount—mellow farming valleys framed by old stone walls, chances to
break trail and chances to follow trails, a couple dozen country inns,
and another couple dozen touring centers along the way.
Need to Know: Maps, trail info, and a list of lodging and touring centers are available at www.catamounttrail.org. Book rooms at Bolton Valley Resort (www.boltonvalley.com) starting at $99 and the Trapp Family Lodge (www.trappfamily.com) for $180. Self-guided inn-to-inn packages can be found at www.inntoinn.com.