For over 80 years, Mount Ascutney’s extensive trail network and challenging alpine terrain has served as the centerpiece of community recreation in the Town of West Windsor. The most recent closure of the ski area in 2010 lead to a decline in the economic and social vitality of the surrounding community.
Concerned about re-building a strong economic base and quality of life, the town rallied around a new concept to change the community’s future and energize the hearts and spirits of residents by creating more diversified outdoor activities, with a focus toward mountain biking and hiking, affordable winter activities, as well as community events and educational programs that appeal to all ages.
A New Era Begins
In December 2015 the Trust for Public Land, supported by donors from the local community and beyond, helped the Town of West Windsor acquire 470 acres of land associated with the former Ascutney Mountain Resort. A conservation and recreation easement was conveyed to the Upper Valley Land Trust over what became the expanded 1,581 acres of town forest. We are honored to have our story told through this wonderful video from The Trust For Public Land.
Ascutney Outdoors (AO), an independent nonprofit, was formed to take responsibility for the management, oversight and development of recreational, educational and community activities and conservation on this land under a delegation of authority from the Town of West Windsor. The Trust for Public Land’s Kate Wanner, spoke of the origins of Ascutney Outdoors as a “community-driven approach to an all-season mountain [that] could become a model for the Northeast.”
Our community came together with determination and commitment. Local donors and volunteers have been integral to keeping operations financially sustainable, building a rope tow and restoring a small warming hut as a gathering place. Ascutney Outdoors has grown its scope of outdoor recreational programs and community events, appealing to people from a range of demographics in West Windsor and beyond. Our sister volunteer organization, Sports Trails of the Ascutney Basin (STAB), continues to improve and develop the on-mountain Ascutney Trails network, partnering with AO to ensure continued success for biking on the mountain.
Looking to the Future
In late 2016, AO determined that an indoor meeting place was essential to achieving its vision for service to the greater community. AO raised capital for the project from the community and local partners and construction began in November 2017. Our new Ascutney Outdoors Center (AOC) opened in September 2018. The AOC has become the gateway to the mountainside trail network and serves a variety of recreational activities. It’s the perfect setting for hosting events, cultural activities and educational programs.
AO is poised to move forward with the next phase of development and expansion for winter and summer activities. With the generous support of Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Mount Ascutney Resort, a handlebar lift for snow tubing is scheduled for installation in summer 2018 for winter use. In January 2018, AO received the donation of a 2,500’ high-quality, Doppelmayr T-bar and the community came together once again to meet the challenge of raising funds for the installation of the lift. We are working to have it operational by the winter 2018-2019 season.
Future plans call for a collaboration with STAB for the installation of a skills park for the mountain biking community, expansion of equestrian trails, music on the mountain, and we continue to explore new ways to best serve the community.
We invite you to explore our website to learn more and look forward to seeing you on the mountain!