Trail News

Important Advocacy Update!

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Please take the time to read if you care about trails in Vermont…

The VT Trails and Greenways Council is working to coordinate a unified message to state leadership regarding Act 250 and its impact on trails, landowners and municipalities.

In brief, Act 250 is land use and development law that has meant a lot to Vermont since its inception in 1970. We’ve learned a lot in 50 years and it’s time to evaluate how the law intersects with trails.

It’s important that we send a clear massage that acknowledges the role Act 250 plays in keeping Vermont beautiful, but also encourages the commission to consider its application relative to landowners and trails going forward. Act 250 for many landowners is a deal breaker. Private land accounts for over 70% of Vermont – we need to actively advocate for our landowners – particularly if we are to realize our vision of connected networks.

The Trails and Greenways Council will dig into the specifics of definitions, rules and regulations with the legislature. What we’re seeking from you is general support and input that highlights the positive role of trails in Vermont.

The Agency of Natural Resources is hosting two more regional summits to gather input about about Act 250, including its impact on trails in Vermont. The Commission on Act 250: “The Next 50 Years” was established by the Vermont Legislature to work on modernizing Act 250. It’s very important that the Commission hear voices of the trails and outdoor recreation community during this process.

VMBA and the Council fully supports the work of the Commission as conservation and environmental protection are core values for all of us. However, we are also concerned because Act 250 regulation can and has created confusion, expensive and time consuming obstacles to improving and maintaining your trails.

It is critical that any potential reforms consider the irreplaceable benefits of Vermont trails. We must inform our legislators and state leadership charged with modernizing the law understand that support of the trails and volunteers is required at this time. Creating cumbersome and confusing obstacles for the landowners, towns, nonprofits and volunteers that create, build and maintain virtually all of the trail infrastructure for the public good will have tremendously negative impacts.
Over 70% of our trails are hosted and maintained on private land and made possible through 100,000+ volunteer hours annually. We need to actively advocate for our private landowners and our visions of trail connectivity.

There are two regional summits remaining:

  • Rutland – Sept. 5 – 6-8 pm, Franklin Conference Center
  • Burlington Sept. 12 – 6-8 pm, Burlington Elks Lodge, 925 North Ave

At a summit or through the online survey , please share all of your reasons for supporting appropriate trail building criteria going forward. The multiple choice sections on the survey cover a wide range of environmental and development issues, so we suggest you use one or two of the short answer sections to voice concerns specific to trails. Please consider highlighting some of the following information:

  • Trails are invaluable pathways to better health, rural economic stability and conservation in Vermont
  • Cumbersome permitting fees attached to “development” are a deal breaker for nonprofits. Our trail infrastructure is not built by volunteers for commercial purposes
  • Trail organizations and users are conservationists, completely dedicated to environmentally friendly and sustainable trails
  • Over 70% of trails are on private land – we need regulation that will support their generosity and encourage even more trails and conservation
  • Trails have a low environmental impact with great benefits, including the inspiration of greater conservation and environmental protection. Therefore, trails should not be considered “development”and lumped into the same regulation categories as other construction projects
  • Currently, Act 250 limits Vermont’s ability to fully realize the benefits that could come with greater support for trails and outdoor recreation
  • Trails and outdoor recreation not only make
  • Vermonters healthier with over 72% of Vermonters participating, but they also provide over 50 thousand, or roughly 1 in 7, of the jobs in Vermont (Outdoor Industry Association)

take the ACT 250 SURVEY

Saxon Hill Parking on Thompson Drive is Open!

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From the Essex Zoning office:

“Great news – the new temporary parking lot is now open at the end of Thompson Drive. Once you come to the end of the pavement on Thompson Drive, it turns to gravel – continue straight and the lot is a short distance down the gravel road on the right. Be careful as construction is being done to extend Thompson Drive and to build Red Clover Drive. In addition to those trucks running the road, the sand extraction project is ongoing and also has trucks that run down the road and by the parking lot. If you see a gate (open or closed) do not go through it as the public entrance stops at the parking lot!

Also, the parking lot located at the top of Saxon Hill has been reduced in parking spots. Parking is not longer allowed in front of the house at the top of the hill. Cars will be towed if they are parked in the fire lane. Let’s be mindful of the neighbors!

Thanks all and have a great day!”

preacher bridge

FOTW Pro Trail Crew Kicks Off June Dropping Berms

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Good news for all those Care Hills fans out there, especially the clergy of The Preacher.  On Wednesday, 6/6, the FOTW Pro Trail Crew went up Preacher and weed whacked the Vast trail and logging roads for easier climbing to the top of Preacher.  We replaced a 30” bridge that was tipping over and added a reroute to it near the bottom of Preacher above Crucible in a very consistently wet area. The new reroute flows better and keeps you dry heading into the rocky features on Crucible.

preacher bridge

After that, the Pro Trail Crew moved up Preacher and reshaped, rebuilt, and created more smooth-turning berms from the top of Preacher to Crucible.  Much like the revamped berms of Voodoo Child that were constructed last week. Normally these berms take anywhere from 4 -8 hours to build.  The Pros did 5 in one day. Way to go trail crew! Become a member so you can access the network map (you’ll need it) and plan a big ride out here soon (conditions permitting, of course).

Reshaped berms on Preacher!

Reshaped berms on Preacher!

Thanks to those who support the FOTW through their membership, especially those who purchase our 5-pack deal or above.  That type of support allows this highly skilled crew to get out there and get that type of work done in one day.  Spread the word to donate and support the trail crew for continued high-end construction. Thanks!

Carse Hills Trail Day and Updates from the Pro Trail Crew

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FOTW Volunteer Trail Day at Carse Hills
Where: Parking on Lincoln Hill Rd (Please drive 30mph and no dogs please)
When: 9 am – 12 noon
Why: Work On Henry’s Highlands to repair damage from logging operations
RSVP on Facebook

This Saturday from 9-12 the FOTW Pro Trail Crew and volunteers will be doing trail improvements to Henry’s Highlands. One group will start up the trail and improve knick outs and erosion areas for water to escape the trail. Then they will join the group up top on the ridge to finish connecting the trail.

The second group will hike to the ridge and begin working where the trail crew installed a bridge at the beginning of the area that was logged last season. Several areas will be rerouted to move the trail off the existing logging road that was created.

Please be prepared for bugs, sun and some hard work. FOTW will supply tools for mostly benching, clearing and creating run-off areas for water. Please bring sunscreen (no more trees so it’s very sunny at the top), bug spray, gloves,water and a snack. We think we can get the entire trail done by the time we leave. Then we can open the entire Carse network!

The entire network has had the leaves blown off, drainage opened up, bridges fixed on Preacher, 28 trees removed and trail pruning taken care of.  The only area that needs some TLC is Crucible which we will get to in the next two weeks. Some of the ramps and landings need replacing.

Carse Kids 2

This past week the FOTW Pro Trail Crew had 40 South Burlington Freshman students work for a half day improving trail tread, pruning and carrying all the wood for the bridge to the top of the ridge.  Thanks SBHS

Carse Kids 1

FOTW will supply snacks and beverages after we are done. We look forward to seeing you there.  Please bring a friend who may ride the area and who is not a member so they can see how much goes in to your trails.  Thanks everyone and look forward to seeing you.

A few notes about Parking at Carse Hills:

Our popular high end mountain bike network at Carse Hills bridges two roads; from the north Lincoln Hill and the south Hollow Road.  If riding up Henry Highlands, you will be on Lincoln Hill road,  please park well off to the side near the logging road entrance but DO NOT block the entrance in case a large truck needs to remove the existing logs at the platform.  There is an entrance sign there that allows you to know if the network is open or closed.  Also best if everyone could park facing west.  Be aware of cars, trucks and walkers up and down the road.  Be responsible as always and try to get into the field  as soon as possible as opposed to hanging in the road.

On the Hollow road side parking is a challenge. There is no parking at the gate entrance to the trails, no parking in that large lot below the gate and no parking east on Hollow road where the water outtake is for fire engines. Also the bump-out area on the Big Hollow Road where it intersects Hollow Road is also not a designated parking area.  The preferred and only legal area is 1.9 miles past the entrance headed east towards 116 on the right side.  There are now signs an it is a grassy flat area with gravel in the lot.

We are in discussion to open some of these areas up in the near future, so adhering to these guidelines will assist us greatly in this process.

Thank you for your help and as always be responsible and polite.

2014 – End of Season Trail Report

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The trail crew and local stewards (15, 3 for each network) removed leaves, debris and down trees in HTF, Carse, Saxon, Sunny,  Mud Pond and Sleepy Hollow in late April till mid May.  It is quite the process to make sure that all the water-shedding installations are clear and a clean line of sight is opened on 100 plus mile of trails.

By mid May we had our other 6 networks cleaned up and we began to finish the last third of a mile on Maiden.  Bridges over flowing water, armoring in seeps and benching was performed to drain water into intermittent streams and on to the forest floor.  The beginning of the Maiden from Hayden East was rerouted to higher ground and 40’ of puncheons laid down to keep trail out of a water holding area.

This project included the restoration of Maiden, International and Dragon’s Tail with a RTP grant we received from the State in 2011.  International was started in early June and the 1.75-mile trail was finished by the end of June.  Once again we placed a 100’ bridge in the beginning in a seep holding area that is wet almost through the year with another 6 areas of bridging totaling up 120’.  Rock armoring was installed in 18 areas covering over 220’ so water can absorb down the armoring to reach the forest floor to be absorbed along with benching and out slopping for surface water to move off the trail.  During this time we had 4 corporate groups assist us, totaling up to 130 volunteers throughout a 6-day period.

By July 4th we were ready to tackle Dragon’s Tail performing the same type of work we have mentioned above.  This trail since it leaves the parking area and travels farther away was renovated to not have sediment run off the trail but to leave the roots, rocks and natural features there.  We finished this trail by mid July.

The next project was to complete a major renovation of the Backdoor starting at the top of the HTF at Dragon’s Tail and went down to Lincoln Hill road covering about 2.2 miles, with several reroutes added. This project took about 20 days.  Better signage was added, lots of derooting for this climbing trail, water-shedding outlets every 20-60 ft, 220 ft of armoring in seep areas and the addition of climbable berm turns under 8% grade.

Saxon Hill was our next area of concern.   This silt moraine area has been eroded to the point it is a mud hole for over 400 ft.  We installed a rollercoaster bridge 24” wide, 425’ long with dips, tilts and slope into a berm turn.  We then proceeded to redo and correctly build 28 berms with skeletal material of rock or logs as the base with a smooth arc on top.  Three reroutes were put in of over .25 miles, 80’ of armoring and water-shedding outlets every 20-60’ were added.

HTF in September became the last big project.  We have been diligent to get HTF back to great shape for walkers and bikers since we have not been in there for 4 years.  Complete signage was redone, clearing of every trail from blow downs, Backdoor from Hayden West was redone, Lost was opened and Missing Link was upgraded.

FOTW trail crew assisted with Michelle Fisher for 4 nights during the off-season to renovate, inform and make more accurate the Map of the trails in the HTF.  We then assisted with Stewart J. and hung all the signs made by the Trails Committee.  We then, with the assistance of Lenore Budd added signage between the start and finish of all the trails in the proper color to ensure travelers could find their way through all seasons.  A big thanks to the Trails committee for their vision to have better signage throughout the forest.  The trail crew just finished the last of the signage this past week.

The RTP Grant from the State was a huge project to complete.  We would like to thank the HTF Committee for their support of the grant at its conception.  We received $26,000 for the grant and we matched it with about $15,000 for labor and materials of our own.

Finally, we finished up with leaf and tree removal in mid fall by 9/20 to ensure power equipment and noise was away from the area for the other user groups to be in there.  Hunting for small game and bow start in early October so that allowed about 3 weeks with nothing going on before the openings.  We then closed the HTF trails for Kids Hunting weekend and for rifle season.  This was delivered on social media, our website and on Trailhub.org

A total of 20 Volunteer work events were used this season, with over 1400 hrs placed into the trails.  FOTW sponsored snacks and drinks at each event with some sort of swag to give out.  We raffled off two bikes this year a high end Mtn Bike and a Fat Bike in the late fall.  Flyin Ryan foundation and FOTW put on a joint fun Mtn Bike event at Catamount trails that was very successful along with four area restaurants that donated 10% of the purchases of dinners for one night to FOTW.

FOTW board of directors took an acting role of a working Board to pick up the administration responsibilities that were previously being done by Andy Weiss.  The Board meets every two weeks from April- December then once a month.  The board and the trail Director successfully met their budgets and we performed more work this year than any other year on the trials. Somewhere around 8 plus miles were totally redone.  FOTW partnered and financially supported VMBA membership template for the 2014 season.  We look forward to renewing this next season.  We appreciate the relationship and it was a good first year under the umbrella of VMBA.

 

Best

FOTW Board of Directors.

 

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