Williston, Vermont 05495Official Website
To reach the Catamount Family Center, heading south on Route 2A, turn left at the traffic light onto Mountain View Road. Cross North Williston Road, where the road becomes dirt, and the name changes to Govenor Chittenden Road. Continue a half-mile to Catamount, which is owned and operated by the McCullough family as a mountain biking, hiking, and cross-country ski center. Birdwatchers are definitely welcome and the area has several different habitats attracting a wide variety of birds. The mixed hardwood and white pine forests on the north side are home to Wood Thrush, Veery, Red-eyed Vireo, and Ovenbird. Walking up the power line ROW to Indian Lookout offers great looks at Chestnut-sided Warblers and Cedar Waxwings. At the top, the view of the river valley and Camel’s Hump to the SE is magnificent. There are two ponds on the property where Canada Goose and Mallard often nest, and where Pied-billed Grebe, and Green and Great Blue Heron can be seen. The extensive fields on the south side provide excellent habitat for grassland species, notably Bobolink and Savannah Sparrow, and to a lesser extent Eastern Meadowlark and Field Sparrow. Bobolink nesting is very successful here, as the fields are not cut during the nesting season. The higher elevations on the property attract a large variety of migrating warblers and other songbirds, especially during spring.
The Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, Vermont started in the late 1970s when Jim and Lucy McCullough inherited the historic 500-acre property and opened it to the public for cross-country skiing. By 1990 their small experiment in the outdoor industry had become a wildly successful four-season operation that is still open for hiking, biking, skiing, and educational opportunities for children, college students, and adults.
At first, transforming the farm into an outdoor recreation hub was simply a way to supplement the family’s farming business. But its success had other benefits, too, as it helped stem encroaching development and protect the rural quality of life that long defined the community. Today it is a regional icon attracting more than 20,000 visitors annually.
Despite this success, financial constraints are now forcing the family to sell 359 acres of the property, an outcome that could drastically change the fabric of Williston if not carefully managed (a recent buildout analysis suggests that up to 150 homes could be developed on the property under current regulations). But true to the Vermont values by which they live, the family has embraced an opportunity to sell the land as a community forest, perhaps the last chance to protect the property from incompatible development.
Now, The Trust for Public Land worked with the family and the Town of Williston to secure the property once and for all. The new Catamount Community Forest is now owned by the Town and will safeguard the property’s natural resources and protect its function as a recreational hub for generations to come.
The property is open for pedestrian access (walking, running, snowshoeing) at no charge. Cross-country skiing and mountain biking require a trail pass, which can be obtained onsite or via the COFC website.
Restrooms on site
Wheelchair accessible trail
Last updated May 14, 2023