In February of 2011, the public learned that the majority of the Bolton Valley Nordic and backcountry trails were to be sold to a private individual, and public access to the land would be lost.
In two months, the Friends of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry formed to protect the land and the public's access to it.
With the outpouring of support, the Vermont Land Trust signed a contract to purchase more than 1,100 acres that host the Bolton Valley Nordic and backcountry trails.
Over a period of 15 months, the community raised $1.85 million. This spring, the Vermont Land Trust will purchase and conserve the land, which will then be transferred to the state as an addition to Mt. Mansfield State Forest.
Wildlife and Natural Resource Protection
The Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry property is part of an important wildlife habitat connection between two large blocks of state land: Mt. Mansfield State Forest and Camel's Hump State Park.
It includes the majority of the headwaters and much of the watershed of Joiner Brook, which feeds into the Winooski River.
The Bolton Valley lands were identified as the highest priority for conservation by the partners in the Chittenden County Uplands Conservation projectâ€”a community conservation effort that has protected 8,000 acres in 10 years.
Unparalleled Outdoor Recreation
With over 90 kilometers of groomed and backcountry trails, Bolton Valley is one of the three largest Nordic trail systems in Vermont. See trails map.
The property is easily accessible to Vermont's largest population center, located just 40 minutes from Burlington.
The base elevation is the highest of any Nordic center in Vermont, extending both ends of the season for winter users.
The Catamount Trail runs through the property and there are connections to other popular backcountry routes including Trapp Family Lodge, Mt. Mansfield State Forest, Underhill State Park, and Little River State Park.
A Community Gathering Place
Many public schools, colleges, and universities use the land for outing club events, outdoor education, and ski racing and training.
Currently, the property is the practice area for several ski teams and clubs, including Essex and Burlington High Schools, Northwest Vermont Nordic Ski Club, and UVM's top-ranked Nordic team.
The variety of terrain and trails offers recreational access to all ability levels and ages.
The land and trail systems are heavily used for community, nonprofit, and fundraising events.
The trails have been maintained by community volunteers led by the "Old Goats," dating back to the late Gardiner Lane's leadership in the 1970s. Volunteers number 30 to 50 throughout the fall months.