Catamount Outdoor Family Center is a nonprofit located in Williston, just south of Burlington, and offers 20 miles of multipurpose trails. Their mission is to promote family and community well being through activity and education in a natural environment. The property sits on 500 acres and its trails meander through woods, pasture and farmland. The owner-occupied home on the property serves as a bed and breakfast and was built in 1796 by Vermont’s first Governor, Thomas Chittenden. Together the property and house are listed by the Vermont Division for Historic Places and the national Register of Historic Places as the Giles Chittenden Homestead. The Center originally opened in 1978 as a cross country ski center and has since grown to include running, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing and sledding.
What Makes It Great
This well-marked trail system offers a great variety of run lengths and technical terrain within minutes of downtown Burlington. There are options for rolling 5Ks as well as steeper 15K alternatives infused with simple rock scrambles and challenging hills. The trails are mostly root-filled singletrack through heavily wooded landscape on one side and pasture on the other.
One of the most wonderful things about Catamount is that while it sits in the middle of a well-developed area, once you are on the trails you feel miles away from the city. The green pastures, a small pond and all the trees make for an enjoyable run regardless of which trail you choose. Each trail provides ample opportunity for pictures before, during and after your run. In addition, the views that can be found on some of the runs are stunning and include panoramic vistas of Mount Mansfield Camel’s Hump, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Ask at the desk which trails to run to best capture these views.
Another benefit of this center is that it offers race nights and group run nights weekly during the summer. If you don’t feel like flying solo you can catch up with other runners and enjoy the group experience. Check out their group runs for more event information.
Who is Going to Love It
Trail runners of all ability levels looking for a spot that is close to Burlington and offers a variety of options, including everything from relatively flat, short runs to very steep, longer routes. Regardless of running level, photo opportunities abound and it’s a great spot to catch views of the various peaks surrounding the area.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There is a large parking lot on the premises where it is free to park. Catamount charges $8 for a day pass and offers season pass and punch card options as well. They are open for trail running seven days a week, but hours vary depending on the season so be sure to check them before you head over there. Also, be sure to call ahead during mud season in the spring as Catamount will close if trails are too muddy.