Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area
The Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area is a project sponsored by RASTA in partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS). The Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area is located in the Green Mountain National Forest, south of Vermont Route 73 at Brandon Gap. Approval of the pioneering project, one of the first of its kind on National Forest land, was received in October 2015 with implementation ongoing through December 2016. The successful implementation of the project is due to the professional design eye of Sustainable Trailworks, LLC and over 1000 volunteer hours – led by RASTA.
Below is a brief description of the terrain at Brandon Gap.
The Brandon Gap Backcountry Recreation Area consists of 4 separate ski zones accessed from 2 trailheads, and connected by the Long Trail corridor.
The Bear Brook Trailhead, about 1 mile east of the top of Brandon Gap, is the entry point to Bear Brook Bowl and the No-Name Ski Zones.
The Bear Brook Bowl Backcountry Zone provides 1300’s feet of vertical in braided lines. These are challenging ski runs and have some exciting natural features. The skin track begins at the Bear Brook Trailhead continuing to just below the top of the Bear Brook ridge where entry into the ski lines can be found. The skin track can continue to be followed up to the Chittenden Brook trail just below the Long Trail-Chittenden Brook trail junction.
The No-Name Backcountry Zone provides 1100 feet of vertical with braided lines. The No-Name zone has more moderate terrain and is sure to be a favorite of many skiers and riders. The skin track up No-Name begins at the Bear Brook trailhead and peaks out on the Long Trail at about 2900′ feet elevation. This area can also be accessed from the Long Trail Parking Lot at the top of Brandon Gap via the Long Trail.
The Sunrise Bowl and Goshen Mountain Backcountry areas are both accessed from the Long Trail Parking Lot. The skin track begins about 3/4 of a mile south on the Long Trail, it ascends through the Sunrise Bowl Backountry Area. This area has some of the easier terrain at Brandon Gap, providing about 500 feet of vertical on several braided lines.
Continuing up the skin track from the top of the Sunrise Bowl area brings you to the top of Goshen Mountain. The summit area of Goshen Mountain is unique with its many acres of high altitude meadows. The meadows dropping from the summit are a great area to enjoy open, low angle ski terrain. In addition during clear weather days the long range views to the north, the east and west are spectacular. Skiing below the meadows brings you into the challenging Goshen Mountain Zone. These lines range from moderately steep terrain on the skier/rider’s right becoming steeper and requiring a higher level of ability as you work towards the skier/rider’s left. All the Goshen Mountain lines end at a skin track that climbs a short distance to the Long Trail Parking lot.
All the skin tracks for the ski zones are marked by yellow RASTA tags and arrows. The entry into each of the zones is also marked by wooden trail signs.
Plenty of great ski tours can be had by traveling along the Long Trail and combining the different zones. All together the Brandon Gap Backcountry Area has over 16,000 vertical feet of skiing and riding terrain spread out along 3 miles of the Long Trail. Being in the Green Mountain National Forest the ski zones are always open, at no cost, to all. RASTA and the USFS hope that skiers and riders will enjoy this area with appropriate respect and exercise caution when riding and skiing at Brandon Gap.
Winter Safety : Your Responsibility
Every Year people are injured, lost or even die in winter recreation related accidents. This is a remote, unpatrolled area where hidden hazards, changing conditions and varied terrain all affect your safety. Be prepared for a backcountry emergency by carrying enough gear and extra warm clothing to be self-sufficient for an extended period of time. Help can be difficult to summon and there may be significant delay in receiving emergency assistance. Bring a map and never ski/ride alone. In case of an emergency call 911.
Ski the Trees : Save the Forest
Continued access to this area, or potential additional backcountry areas, depends on you. No Vegetation cutting in these areas. The future of additional access opportunities relies on you – respect public and private lands and report incidents immediately.
To volunteer, contact RASTA http://www.rastavt.org/volunteer/