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February 2003 Winter Gear

Powder Hungry? Hike These Snowshoe Trails

Bust out of winter doldrums on one of these stellar snowshoe routes.

snowshoe
Photo by Broudy/Donohue

Open only in winter, the Catamount Trail offers a peek at classic New England backcountry.

Vermont

Catamount Trail

Backpackers have numerous long-distance trails to hike in the snow-free months, but we know of only one path in the Lower 48 that’s designed for long-distance winter travel: The Catamount Trail, which stretches 300 miles from Massachusetts to Canada through the heart of Vermont. This path roughly parallels and sometimes overlaps the Long Trail, and it crosses a handful of roads, so fashioning shorter hikes is easy. But nearly half its length remains primitive backcountry trail, which means you’ll need good route-finding skills if you’re snowshoeing through ungroomed

sections. A winter-only route (once the snow melts, landowners close the 60 percent of the trail that’s on private property), the Catamount offers an extended tour of New England’s deep, pristine forests, rocky bluffs, and meandering rivers, all draped in a brilliant wardrobe of white. Check with the Catamount Trail Association about closures before heading out.

Guides: Catamount Trail Guidebook, by Catamount Trail Association ($16.95). Includes maps.

Contact: Catamount Trail Association, (802) 864-5794; www.catamounttrail.org.

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