By Katy Savage
Opening photo: Bolton opens up its trails for lift-served downhill riding.
In early July, the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative announced nearly $6 million in grants to fund new outdoor recreation projects. But even before that, thanks to unprecedented amounts of both public and private funding, trail organizations around the state were hard at work building out singletrack, connector trails and new pump tracks. Here’s a snapshot from some of the most exciting new projects around the state, south to north.
BENNINGTON AREA TRAIL ALLIANCE
The Trail Alliance recently received $5,000 in grants from Cabot Creamery and the Vermont Mountain Bike Association to create beginner trails around Southwestern Vermont Medical Center: They hope to have two new short loops, about .25-miles each, to add to the 1.5 miles of existing hospital trails done this month. Much of the work is being done by local volunteers such as Noah Payne. Payne, a college student, has been building trails in the area since he was 14 and is now leading a volunteer group of high school students. Jared Newell, a board member, hopes the easier terrain will encourage more kids to mountain bike. “We had this idea — more kids on bikes,” Newell said. “It’s a healthy activity.” The efforts coincide with the Catamount BMX track at Willow Park — one of the state’s few BMX tracks —which reopened last year after several years of disuse. “It brought a lot of kids out of the woodwork,” Newell said.
NORTHSHIRE AREA TRAIL SYSTEM
Northshire Area Trail System currently spans about 18 miles in the Manchester area. A project to add about 4 miles of new trail is underway on Raptor Lane in Dorset and will be done by the fall. It’s part of a vision the town has for the 260 acres of land acquired near the Owls Head Town Forest in 2016. The project is funded by the town of Dorset and private donations.
WINDHAM COUNTY TRAILS ALLIANCE
Windham County Trails is opening two trails, called More Gooder and Ware Loop, by the end of the summer. Each trail is about 1,500 feet. And in July, the West Hill Shop installed a pump track just behind its shop in Putney, just off Exit 4 on I-91.
In late July, Vermont’s Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation and Ascutney Outdoors announced the opening of a new multi-use 8-mile trail called Norcross. This trail has been in the works for 11 years and was funded in part by the state agency which covered the cost of nine weeks of work by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp. The trail was also made possible thanks to grants from the Vermont Mountain Bike Association and local donations, including countless volunteer hours put in by local trail builder Jim Lyall. The trail and its three bridges connect the current trail system in the West Windsor Town Forest to the campground at Ascutney State Park and the Swoops and Loops trail. An additional 4-mile trail in the Weathersfield Town Forest is also being built this summer to double the available trail from the Swoops and Loops Trailhead at the Ascutney State Park.
A new municipal trail system could be coming to Ludlow. The town is seeking $30,000 in fundraising to build new trails for hiking and biking behind the former Black River High School. The town acquired the land which has previously been used for hiking, when the high school closed last year. “It ties in really well with our Town Plan and with the large influx of second homeowners,” Town Manager Scott Murphy said.
SLATE VALLEY TRAILS
If you haven’t visited the Slate Valley Trail system, this fall is the time to do it. Slate Valley Trails and MBTVT are teaming up to put on Meeting of the Grinds, a festival for all types of cycling (gravel, road and MTB) that will take place on Sept. 18, with onsite camping. In addition to the 35 miles of existing purpose-built single track, a new 8 miles of trail are being added to the network through an anonymous donation and grants. Part of the expansion, a 1.7-mile loop, is funded with a $24,000 federal grant. The loop will complete the vision for the Delaney Woods parcel, which is located in Wells and conserved by the Vermont Land Trust. A contractor will build a mile of the trail while the rest will be hand built by volunteers. A new strider bike loop for children will also go in at the Fairgrounds Trailhead this year and a new .7-mile connector trail, called “Dog Leg,” will connect the Lake St. Catherine Country Club to the Grove’s Way trails. For future expansions, the town of Poultney received a $67,500 Better Connections grant through the Agency of Transportation to help plan for trail connectivity to the Village of Poultney. The plans are still being developed.
PINE HILL PARK
Pine Hill Park in Rutland is planning the organization’s final two trails to complete the 18-mile trail system. A 1/2-mile trail, called Maximum Capacity, will run off Milk Run to the intersection of Watkins/Rembrandts. The second trail, Bone Spur, will be a 900-foot loop off Milk Run. Both trails are expected to be finished in 2022. Pine Hill received an $18,000 Recreational Trail Program grant, which covers three weeks of labor costs from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp.
WOODSTOCK AREA MOUNTAIN BIKE ASSOCIATION
The Woodstock Area Mountain Bike Association (WAMBA) hired two professional trail builders for the first time in the organization’s history to update and expand its 30-mile trail system. Trail builders Gavin Vaughan and Graham Farrington are constructing a multi-use trail in the Woodstock Village, which will start at Deer Springs on Golf Avenue and head to the summit of Mount Peg, eliminating the need for riders to travel on Route 106 to get to the main trailhead.
WAMBA collaborated with the town of Woodstock and Billings Park Commission to raise $25,000 for the project, which will allow two-way traffic for beginners and intermediate riders. Construction is expected to finish in August. It will have a separate trailhead to avoid existing hiking trails. A pump track at the Aqueduct Trails was also completely rebuilt and expanded. It now features a jump line with three tabletop jumps that end in a bowl from which people can ride into the existing pump track. The existing pump track was also updated with smoother rollers and a larger turning radius.
Contagious, a new trail at the Aqueduct Trails, was completed at the end of last season. It features a fast-twisting descent through a natural half pipe and ends with a jump line. Slash Ridge, a new trail at the Aqueduct Trails, was completed in May and features views of Killington mountain, while Schist Creek, an advanced trail, was completed at the Mount Peg Trails in May.
MOOSALAMOO NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
When the Moosalamoo’s trail projects are complete, you will be able to ride point-to-point nearly 20 miles of singletrack across the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area from Route 125 (East Middlebury) to Route 73 (near Forestdale). The northern section of the Oak Ridge Trail was completed in spring of 2021, ending at the Moosalamoo Campground with a small pump track and fun bike loop. A trail connection from the campground to Silver Lake is in the works, allowing connection to the 13-mile Chandler Ridge Trail and Leicester Hollow trails, which run from Silver Lake to the Minnie Baker Trail or out to Route 73.
RIDGELINE OUTDOOR COLLECTIVE
On July 24, the former Rochester/Randolph Sports Trails Alliance celebrated its name change. The Ridgeline Outdoor Collective, as it is now known, represents ski, bike and other trails across a number of Central Vermont networks, including the Rochester Valley and Green Mountain Trails in the Route 100 corridor, the Randolph Trail and March Brook Loop. The epicenter, the Trail Hub at The Gear Shop in Randolph has maps and signage for the trail systems and the group is working on building out new trails in the Braintree Forest. New trails built this past year include: SapSide, a 1-mile intermediate downhill trail;
Willing and Abel an expert, 1-mile downhill trail; Hemlock Heaven, s two way trail, intermediate of 1.5 mile and 9lb Hammer, a advanced 1-mile downhill trail. A machine-built 2-mile loop at Vermont Tech’s Back 40 trail should be ready by Sept. 1/ The group is also responsible for helping to orchestrate the first stage build out of the Velomont Trail.
MAD RIVER RIDERS
There are several updates in the Mad River Riders Network, which features 60 miles
of trails. A .3-mile reroute of the Eurish Pond trail is underway and planned for completion by mid-September, with $7,000 in funding coming from sponsors and the Mad River Riders. Drainage and feature enhancements on 1.75 miles through Lenord’s Loop, Tootsie Roll and Suki’s Alley at Blueberry Lake are also underway.
Goodnight Irene, an intermediate/advanced trail with several rock features, extending 1.4 miles, will be done by the end of the summer. Irene crosses three pieces of private land and is funded by a $25,000 donation from Mehuron’s Supermarket. The trail is named in memory of Irene Mehuron. Partial access to the trail was secured via the Mad River Valley Community Fund’s conservation of the Kingsbury Farm property. Featherbed Connector, a .25-mile trail, which provides an alternate link to the Revolution trail from the Featherbed Inn property, is now open. The trail was built with $5,000 in funding from the Mad River Riders to improve accessibility and sustainability. There are also new lines at the Moretown Forest Skills Park for all abilities with dirt, stone and wooden features and a new 1-mile nature trail in Moretown Forest, with future upgrades planned.
MONTPELIER Area & CROSS VERMONT TRAIL
Last fall, the Montpelier Area Mountain Bike Association (MAMBA) added 4 miles of new trails and upgraded 2 miles of existing trail – designed for use by mountain bikes, fat-bikers, walkers and skiers.
This summer, the Montpelier area saw another major milestone, the addition of a bridge across the Winooski river connecting the Cross Vermont Trail and the U32 School.
The larger vision is to connect the regional trail network (Montpelier Bike Path, Central Vermont Regional Path through Berlin, Barre and Barre Town, and the East Montpelier Trail) up to U-32 School and on across East Montpelier to where the Montpelier and Wells River Rail Trail begins at Route 14, where the Cross Vermont Trail continues in various forms on to the New Hampshire border.
The project is providing immediate access to the Winooski River, as well as new trailheads, parking and other amenities, along with some single track mountain bike loop trails. The bridge project was made possible by $250,000 in grants and donations. This July, a new 600-foot section of all-access trail and a 50-foot bridge was also put in on the Cross Vermont Trail to bypass a washout on the railbed.
BOLTON VALLEY RESORT
This summer Bolton Valley Resort opened its lifts again to mountain biking and jumped back into the downhill game. Gravity Logic has mapped out additional flow trails and in late June Broken Bridge, an old favorite, was reopened as an easier, flowier trail. This summer the resort has been hosting mountain bike camps and clinics. Look for more events in the fall.
FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHEEL,
The Fellowship, which manages over 100 miles of multi-use trails within eight different networks throughout Chittenden County, has two major expansion projects this year. A new expert level, .3-mile trail, called the Sith, opened in early July, featuring a rocky ravine with bermed turns and jumps. The trail is located at the Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center in Huntington, where there are about 30 miles of trails. Fellowship of the Wheel members ride free, while there’s an $8 fee for nonmembers.
The second major trail project is in Hinesburg Town Forest, which has about 20 miles of intermediate and expert level terrain. A 2.5-mile loop, called Mainer’s Meander and Stoneyard, is being built in three phases. The first phase, Mainer’s Meander, is now open, starting at the Economou Road parking lot and connecting to the trail, Dragon’s Tail. The second phase, called Stoneyard, was slated to open in early August and connect to Homestead. The final phase will connect Mainer’s Meander to Stoneyard.
TERBURY AREA TRAIL ALLIANCE
While there are no expansion projects this year, the organization bought a $4,000 Snowdog (an all-terrain-vehicle for the snow), to maintain trails at the Perry Hill trailhead this winter, making Perry Hill the first state parcel to actively manage trails all year. The effort is part of a pilot program with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to encourage people to stay on the trails and not disturb a deer wintering are
STOWE TRAILS PARTNERSHIP
Stowe Trails Partnership, a 38-mile network, has opened Stowe’s first adaptive mountain bike trails. About 7 miles of existing trails that are looped together in the Cady Hill Network were widened for adaptive bikes and opened in mid-July after receiving $7,500 from a fundraising event and a grant from the Oakland Foundation, Inc. Rachel Fussell, the executive director of the trail group, said the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the organization to make mountain biking more accessible. “Access to nature should be for everyone,” Fussell said. “We wanted to make sure we were breaking down barriers to entry.” Construction of a new 2-mile downhill trail, called “Serenity and Adrenaline,” also started in May with an $11,000 grant for bridges and consultation work. It’s projected to be completed in 2022.
FRANKLIN COUNTY BIKE CLUB
This 13-mile trail system is open to snowshers, bird watchers and hunters. A two-year project to add 6 miles of multi-use trails, is wrapping up this year, thanks to about $50,000 in funding coming from the Rotary Club of St. Albans, the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, the town of St. Albans and the bike club. Franklin County Mountain Bike Club President Andrew Crossman said he’s also secured permission from two private landowners this year to expand the trails, though the location has yet to be announced. The private-land trails, which will add about 5 miles of trail, will open to the public once a safe trailhead is constructed. The bike club is also focusing on maintenance, with the help of an $80,000 grant to upgrade existing trails and make them more sustainable.
KINGDOM TRAILS ASSOCIATION
Kingdom Trails, the 100-mile plus network in East Burke, is adding six trails, spanning 5.18 miles. “Another Round,” a twisty .62-mile trail on private land, bisects “Last Call” and can be accessed in the Tiki Bar parking area. The trail opened in July after some of the trail corridor was pre-constructed by the landowner Doug Clarner and his son Luke. The rest was finished by volunteer work provided by Burke Mountain Academy students and the KT Trail Crew.
“Ozias,” another .9-mile blue connector trail, opened in early July with the help of volunteers. Ozias connects to trails in the Harp/Poundcake/Fenceline area. The other four trails, which will be 1.78 miles, .68 mile, .2 mile, and 1 mile, in length are under construction with varying projected end dates with no confirmed names yet. Trail building and maintenance throughout the system is funded by memberships, merchandise sales, grants and donations.