Summer recreation boom projected to continue through winter | Pandemic 2020

Parking lots at Vermont trailheads were overflowing for much of the summer, and trail system managers say it could be the same when the snow falls.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove a boom in outdoor recreation during the summer.

“At the end of last season, when all the resorts shut down, the retailers immediately sold out of all the backcountry gear they had,” said Greg Maino, communication and events director for Catamount Trails Association, which maintains a network of cross-country skiing trails.

By last month, Maino said, those retailers were seeing triple normal sales, pointing to a likely boom in cross-country skiing this winter.

R.J. Thompson of the Vermont Hut Association said winter reservations for the nonprofits network of huts, rented out by people who use them to access winter trail systems, tell a typical story.

“Our Chittenden Brook hut is 100% full from Jan. 1 to the end of March,” he said.

Thompson said the location doesn’t usually sell out until December, but this year it was booked up by September, and the other seven locations around the state are already 15% to 20% ahead of where they were for bookings last October.

Recreation managers are expecting snowshoeing to see a leap in popularity, as well.

“We have snowshoes that are free to anyone who’s a member, but it’s only $10 a month to be a member,” said Rutland Recreation Superintendent Kim Peters.

Peters said the city is preparing a variety of offerings, such as indoor bocce for the winter once the relevant state guidelines are released, Options for residents who want to keep their recreation outdoors as the pandemic lingers into winter include Pine Hill Park and 20 acres of the former College of St. Joseph campus, assuming city voters approve a $1.4 million bond next month.

Keegan Tierney, director of field programs for the Green Mountain Club, said the organization expects heightened usage to continue on the Long Trail, even though it doesn’t maintain the trail through the winter.

“The system is open in the winter,” he said. “We just made some active choices, in the club’s history, to not manage for winter use. If we had to manage it, it would mean things like plowing our parking lots up and down the state. We couldn’t do that, financially.”

Tierney said Green Mountain Club trails are mostly well-used enough that people will be able to snowshoe on them in the winter — if they can find parking.

Holly Knox, district recreation program manager for the U.S. Forest Service, said the federal agency maintains trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fatbiking, said the service expects parking to be the limiting factor on access to those trails this winter.

“We only have so many trailheads that are plowed in the winter,” she said. “What we can do is educate the public about skiing places that are less busy.”

Maino said Catamount’s chief concern going into winter is parking as well.

“One of the things we’re encouraging people to have

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How you could help bring more winter outdoor recreation to your community

The Maine-based Outdoor Sport Institute recently launched a series of free online programs and resources to help people increase opportunities for outdoor recreation in their communities.

“I think now more than ever we’re seeing the need for this as people are trying to get outside and stay closer to home,” said Mike Smith, the institute’s executive director. “It’s been our message all along — that the outdoors doesn’t need to be way out there, it can be right here, right out your backdoor, and you don’t need to be an expert to get involved.”

The monthly online roundtable series was launched this summer as a way for OSI to continue its mission to support outdoor sports in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upcoming online OSI programs include a free roundtable in which participants discuss the question “What challenges does your community face with outdoor sports in the winter?” from 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, and the free webinar “Managing Risk and Improving Community Outdoor Programs” scheduled for 6-7 p.m. on Dec. 15.

In addition, if you sign up to become a member of the OSI community (which is free), you gain access to a wealth of online resources including sport curriculum guides and recordings of past roundtables and interviews with outdoor sport experts. And if looking for more extensive learning experiences, the institute began offering virtual weeklong courses that are tuition based this fall.

To create these online resources, OSI is teaming up with outdoor experts throughout Maine and beyond. For example, in early October, OSI partnered with the International Mountain Bicycling Association to offer a weeklong online trail school, teaching people how to plan, design and build trails in their communities.

“In some ways, place is no longer the barrier because everyone is thinking of [learning] online,” Smith said. “We have a vast network of colleagues and experts in outdoor work. It’s exciting to think of ways to engage them and get them involved.”

To learn more about OSI and joining the community, visit outdoorsi.org. The organization plans to add more resources and features to the website in the months ahead.

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Choosing the Right Winter Vacation Property in Colorado

Going on vacation in Colorado? Whether you are going to Breckenridge, Colorado, Frisco,Colorado or Copper Mountain, Keystone, Dillon or Silverthorne all considered resort towns in Summit County Colorado or Vail Colorado you need to be aware of the different lodging options you have to choose from. First consider your budget. Knowing your budget will dictate whether you should be looking for an economical motel/hotel or an area that is not specifically in the ski town like Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone or Vail but maybe in locations like Dillon, Silverthorne or Frisco although Frisco is considered Copper’s ski town. In general the further distance from the ski mountain the less expensive. There are many different types of properties available for your ski vacation, condo’s, townhomes, private homes to elegant homes. One bedrooms to 9 plus bedrooms.

A very important consideration is how close you want to be to the slopes and understand how the price is affected Ski in – ski out properties in the visitor’s mind usually means you can walk out your front or back door step into your skis and ski to the lift and ski back down to your home. Not necessarily true many property management companies define ski in & out properties as being with-in 100 yards of the ski lift and sometimes it means crossing a street or skiing back down in difficult terrain, so always ask whoever you are renting from how they define ski-in & out. Second you may select a property that is ski-in but necessitates either walking or some means of transportation back to your home, again always ask. Third choosing a property that involves public transportation, typically that is not a problem since all the ski areas provide a shuttle service to and from the ski area just check to see how far you are from the shuttle stop and are there transfers involved.

Ski season is a very busy time of year so you may want to think about renting a car if you are flying. There are many transportation services available from Denver international that will drive you to and from the airport at a reasonable rate. Arrange in advance. Taking a shuttle service is a safe way to get up the mountains and not have to worry about road conditions, driving in the mountains when the roads are snow covered can be very tricky why not be safe and let an experienced driver get you and your family to your Colorado ski vacation safe. Parking in ski towns is limited and the ski areas themselves charge for close in parking and the free parking usually means taking a shuttle to the base area.

Booking and choosing your ski vacation can be done through numerous channels, finding a property management company through a Google search. using homeaway.com or checking on Craigslist for individuals renting their property,

Always check out the creditability of the company you are using or the individual and get pictures, don’t be surprised and ask as …

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