Snowmobiling is a privilege and is permitted only through the traditional generosity of thousands of property owners. Eighty percent of Vermont's trail system is on private land. Respecting the land by showing courtesy and not littering will ensure that New England's best trail system remains open for years to come.
Landowner permission is required to ride on private land.
Local clubs obtain landowner permission for trails on private property. All riders in Vermont must belong to VAST and a local club to ride legally in the state. There is a substantial fine for riding without a VAST TMA.
VAST trails are for winter use only!
Permission to use snowmobile trails does not extend to use of these trails by Fat Bikes, ATVs, four-wheelers, motor or mountain bikes, hiking or other uses, unless specifically authorized by the landowner and club, and properly signed to educate user groups and sanctioned by VAST. A VAST trail is a trail only during the snow season; any other use will be considered trespassing. Please respect the rights of the landowners and remember to say thank you.
How VAST Landowners are Protected
Because of the largely rural character of Vermont and the potential for outdoor recreational activity, it has long been the policy of the state, speaking through the Legislature, to encourage landowners to make their lands available to members of the public for recreational purposes. In order to encourage landowners to make their lands available, and to provide the landowners with a measure of protection against claims that might be brought against the landowner for injuries to person or property, the Legislature has seen fit to provide a measure of protection to those making lands available for use by the public. The two main sources of encouragement to landowners and protection for them are found in the following enactments:
VERMONT TRAIL SYSTEM.
The Vermont Legislature has determined that in order to provide access to the use and enjoyment of the outdoor areas of Vermont, to conserve and use the natural resources of this state for healthful and recreational purposes, it is declared to be the policy of this state to provide the means for maintaining and improving a network of trails to be known as the VERMONT TRAIL SYSTEM. The development, operation and maintenance of the Vermont Trail System is declared to be a public purpose.
The Legislature in carrying out the mission, has stated that: “No public or private owner of land which is part of the Vermont trail system shall be liable for any property damage or personal injury sustained by any person using these trails unless the public or private owner intentionally inflicts the damage or injury.” (10 V.S.A.Chapter 20, Sections 441-449.) The VAST snowmobile trails have been declared to be part of the Vermont Trail System by both ANR and the Greenways Council.
LIMITATIONS ON LANDOWNER LIABILITY.
In order to encourage landowners to make their land and water available for members of the public for recreational purposes, for no consideration, the Legislature has said that an owner shall have no greater duty of care to a person who, without consideration, enters or goes upon the owner’s land for a recreational use then the owner would have to a trespasser.
Consideration is defined by the Legislature as meaning a price, fee or other charge paid to or received by the owner in return for permission to enter upon or to travel across the owner’s land for recreational use. To protect a landowner, the Legislature has declared that: “An owner shall not be liable for property damage or personal injury sustained by a person who, without consideration, enters or goes upon an owner’s land for recreational use unless the damage or injury is the result of the willful or wanton misconduct of the owner.” (12 V.S.A. Chapter 203 Limitations on Landowner Liability).
ADDITIONAL PROTECTION TO LANDOWNERS
In addition to the statutory provisions referred to above, and in order to further induce landowners to make lands available for winter use as snowmobile trails, Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) carries a general liability policy with limits of Three Million Dollars for each occurrence with an aggregate of Six Million Dollars. The policy contains an endorsement providing that any landowner who contracts with VAST for access to his, her or its property for recreational use for snowmobile trails, or who grants an easement for those purposes, will be automatically identified as an additional insured, and the carrier will issue a Certificate of Liability Insurance identifying the landowner as an additional insured.