Since the late 1930s, when Alex Drysdale opened the first rope tow on Prospect Mountain in Woodford, people have enjoyed its scenery and high terrain. These days, thousands come from all over for the highest elevation cross-country skiing in the state. The place is so beloved that volunteers created a nonprofit organization to buy the mountain and protect it for recreation.
“We all love the place,” said David Newell, president of the board of the Prospect Mountain Association (PMA). “It’s a great recreational outlet. We didn’t know what was going to happen to it if we didn’t get involved. We didn’t want to take a chance; we had to find a way to make it happen for the community.”
While Prospect Mountain started as a downhill ski area, its fortunes turned in the 1990s. Faced with the property going into foreclosure, two locals—Steve Whitham and Andrea Amadeo—bought the land with the intention of allowing cross-country skiing. They slowly built up the cross-country ski business and operated it successfully for decades, holding on to the land until the community was ready to take it over.
PMA purchased the 144-acre property in the fall of 2018 and shortly thereafter conserved it with VLT.
There are more than 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country trails along with many snowshoe and alpine touring trails. Prospect Mountain is home to Williams College’s Division One cross-country ski team, Mount Anthony Union High School’s cross-country ski team, Mount Greylock’s cross-country ski team, and one of the largest Bill Koch Youth Ski leagues in New England.
The old-fashioned base lodge welcomes families with its warm wood stove and friendly cafeteria. It is a place where children can learn to love the outdoors, families can gather to enjoy each other’s company, individuals can find quiet solitude in the forest, and almost everybody leaves with a good story.
“Prospect is absolutely beloved to this community,” said VLT’s Donald Campbell. “For generations—including during my childhood—Prospect has been the best way for people to enjoy the outdoors in winter. Working with PMA to buy and conserve this land is the best thing we can do to ensure that Prospect Mountain will be available for outdoor recreation forever.”
The mountain is also part of an expansive area of wildlife habitat. “Prospect Mountain backs up against the massive George D. Aiken Wilderness Area,” added Donald. “The low-impact nature of cross-country skiing fits nicely with the needs of bear, moose, bobcat, deer, and all of the other animals traveling the Green Mountains.”
Funded by Williams College, VHCB, and many individual donors.
Photo by David Middleton