Our History

For over 80 years, Mount Ascutney’s extensive trail network and challenging alpine terrain served as the centerpiece of recreational activity in the Town of West Windsor.  However, the closure of the ski area in 2010 lead to a decline in economic and social vitality. Concerned about re-building a strong economic base and quality of life, the community rallied around a new approach that would create a more diversified base of outdoor activities, including affordable and sustainable alpine skiing (low impact and smaller footprint), hiking and mountain biking, as well as events and educational programs.

In 2015, the Town took the first step towards this new concept by acquiring the 470 acres associated with the former ski area.  With assistance from the Trust for Public Land, a conservation and recreation easement was conveyed to the Upper Valley Land Trust over the ski acreage plus more than 1,100 acres of town forest.   This laid the foundation for change and energized the community.  We are honored to have our story told through this wonderful video.

Ascutney Outdoors (AO) was formed as a non-profit organization to take responsibility for the management, oversight, and development of the recreational, educational and community activities, as well as conservation of the land. The Trust for Public Land’s Kate Wanner, spoke of the origins of AO 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 were integral to keeping operations financially sustainable, building a rope tow and restoring a small warming hut as a gathering place. Over the subsequent years, AO grew the scope of outdoor recreational programs and community events, appealing to people from a range of demographics in West Windsor and beyond.

In late 2016, AO determined that an indoor meeting place was essential to achieving its vision. AO raised capital for the project from the community and local partners and the new Ascutney Outdoors Center (AOC) opened in 2018. It immediately became the gateway to the mountainside trail network, and today it serves a wide variety of recreational activities and events, cultural activities, and educational programs.

The next phase of our development was the installation of a “handlebar” tubing lift.  With the generous support of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations (the local resort), the new lift was opened with great fanfare.  Shortly thereafter, AO received a donation of a 1,800’ high-quality, Doppelmayr T-bar.  Once again, the community came together to meet the challenge of raising funds for the installation and the T-bar was completed in 2019.

Most recently, Ascutney Outdoors’ efforts on behalf of the community have included the opening of the ‘Discovery Trail’, an interpretive walking trail starting and ending at AOC.  The trail is a one-mile loop which includes stops with panels that engage visitors to explore the natural and human history of the area.  In addition, Ascutney Outdoors in conjunction with ATA received a grant from the State of Vermont that was used to build a bike flow trail and a “skills park” and for a significant upgrade to the rope tow with the installation of an electric motor.

All these accomplishments were made possible by the tireless support and hard work of our volunteers and our Board, the generosity of our community and other partners.