Snow dump opens majority of VAST trail network

BRAINTREE, Vermont (WCAX) — Snowmobile enthusiasts are celebrating the new snow, allowing many state trails to open for the first time this season.

“Oh, I get dizzy, you know?” said Stuart Merusi, president of the White River Valley Snowgoers. He jumped into his club’s groomer on Tuesday with a youthful spring in his step and was busy the rest of the day. “I know it’s hard to predict, but I was pretty excited when we ended up with a foot here.”

The club and its 70 members are responsible for 58 miles of trails that run through several towns in central Vermont. “Open the trails, open the gates, pack the snow with a compactor bar. I haven’t hooked up to the drag yet,” Merusi explained.

Other clubs in the area are following suit, connecting to the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers’ 5,000-mile network, VAST. “I expect about two-thirds of the trails to be open in the next few days,” VAST’s Cindy Locke said. The organization has about 20,000 members with about half from out of state. A pass is required each year. “The economic impact of snowmobiling in the state of Vermont is quite massive. We are right behind downhill skiing. We inject about $550 million a year into the economy.

And it’s volunteers like Merusi who help keep those dollars flowing by pushing the white stuff off the trails. “We will mark the trails on the map as open, but be careful as always,” Merusi said. Safety first, which experts say often leaves more time to enjoy the beautiful countryside. “Slow down and enjoy Vermont for what we have to offer here.”

And unlike ski resorts where they can make their own snow, snowmobilers rely 100% on Mother Nature. They therefore hope that Monday’s storm will be repeated throughout the season.

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