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Working on Saxon Hill!

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OK – just a quick reminder, ’cause we know that you already read it in the Newsletter, but it bears repeating: Please don’t park on Thompson Drive. Please drive SLOW on Saxon Hill Drive. Please keep your dog in control in the parking lot. Please don’t leave trash around, don’t make a ton of noise – let’s respect our neighbors! We DON’T want to lose this parking lot, or have the police sit there all the time waiting for people. Not worth it. So – What are we up to at Saxon? Saxon is one of the original mountain biking and multi-use areas we started taking care of. Hans Jenny and his band of friends over 11 years laid down most of Flow, Mo Flow, Low Flow, etc, along with many local volunteers at the time. The was the hay-day for what we now call ‘rake and ride’ trails. At Saxon the huge sand moraine desposited from the Wisconsin glacier let’s you literally rake the leaf litter and topsoil off so that you can ride on the subsoil layer. Some of our best flow trails are in the area. Thanks once again to the locals and pioneers who have been trail building and maintaining for years. Through the years many of the trails have been flooded out or eroded away by major storms. Sand erodes easily, and Saxon gets a lot riding when other networks are wet as the sand usually drains well. Also, Saxon is pretty near Burlington, so a lot of people use this network frequently. All these factors have added up to contribute to the deep troughs, mud holes, exposed large roots scattered all over, exposed rock sections, and trails that now hold water. Some sections are at the point where the damage is irreparable unless you bring in material and machinery, or bridge over a lot of the bad sections. Last year we laid down about 150 feet of boardwalk in the Low Flo area that was washed out by Irene. This year at the intersection of the large white pine tree to the right, we just finished 425 feet of what we call ‘roller coaster’ board walk. IMG_2414    IMG_2432 When making a boardwalk this long you need to constantly change the pitch, topography, and sight lines so users can successfully navigate the board walk. At the end we banked it up high so it will push you back onto the trail. We armored a large section at the beginning and end so the pressure from the bike tires doesn’t create a hole in that area. We then continued down the trail and performed our routine maintenance. When these trails were built, we didn’t know as much about what makes a sustainable trail as we do now, especially with as many riders as we get on them. Issues like drainage, tire pressure impacts, and lasting construction weren’t big issues then because we had a lot fewer riders. That was just the time back then – the sand was so easy to build in, and the drainage seemed to be so good that we didn’t worry about it. It seems like it’s only the last five years that Saxon has been worn down to its current condition. We went through and looked for drainage issues. Every 20 feet of straight sections, if there wasn’t any drainage, we created drainage nicks, outsloped the trail, used tile drains, or re-routed the trail. We also improved the berms. The best way to build a berm is to use rocks in the center as a spine, covered with subsoil, with a place for water to drain at the end or in the belly of the berm. There are areas on Freefall where berms were built with rocks or logs at the back. Eventually the soil covering them erodes away and they rocks or logs shift into the trail and the feature has to be re-built. So it’s really good to do it right the first time around, and that often means digging a borrow pit for more soil to lay over the spine. In Saxon there aren’t a ton of rocks laying around, so at times we need to use logs. Not the best material to use as they’ll rot, but it you can’t bring in material this is an OK last resort. We use fresh hardwood logs and they’ll usually last 5-7 years before you need to re-build or re-vamp the feature. In all, we made built or renovated 12 berms below the new roller coaster board walk. IMG_2512   IMG_2515   IMG_2516 The next two weeks we’ll be finishing the trail to the bottom with another board walk on the lower side that goes right through a drainage area. We’ll be re-routing part of it to cut out an area that is wet 75% of the time. Enjoy the renovation, roller coaster, and the flow of the trail! A lot of this work is due to the fact that one day a group of rider went through and said to me, “You know, it’s just not as flowy as it used to be.” This really inspired us to get out there and put the flow back into Flo. Enjoy, and thanks for your support. IMG_2524 Mickey Stone Trail Director, Fellowship of the Wheel.

Hinesburg Town Forest – The Saga Finishes!

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Hinesburg Town Forest RTP Grant:  Dragon’s Tail Part III

I can remember it so vividly it was early fall 2003 the leaves were falling and we could see the unlimited expanse of the Hinesburg Forest western slopes. Steve Russell who at that time was the HTF committee solely had the foresight to see we were great stewards of  the Forest and he allowed us to go ahead and install the trail system we have today.  Though certain names pop up on who laid trails out and who installed them it was the trust and vision of Steve to allow the three of us to create the network.  Steve is still part of the HTF committee but he has stepped down as president.  His father planted the hundreds red pine trees in around where Nature Boy use to be, so Steve’s roots run deep in the forest.

The area we were analyzing looked like a series of steps with plateaus in between maybe rising about 10-20 feet with each riser.  Finally, the area flattened out towards the top to a rolling rambling peak that stretched over a few miles. It was an endless sight line with many terrain variations and open areas where trees were 20-30 feet apart.  My partner, actually leader, founder of Fellowship, and visionary Hans Jenny and I were creating, flagging and talking over each other so much on where a new trail should go that neither was listening to each other.  It was like two brothers on Christmas having to share the same toy that they both wanted for themselves.

We started a new trend back at that time which was a corner stone for FOTW.  We actually researched the area, walked it several times, looked at maps and contour lines, rough flagged it and then came back and made it more exact.  By this time in our careers we had participated in our first IMBA trail building course and were ready to put it to good use.  At the same time we had a local UVM college graduate in geography with an avid mountain and biking background, Brooke Scatchard.  Together the three of us laid out what are now Dragon’s Tail and the Back Door from Hayden Hill West along with the rest of the trails.

The spaghetti type of switchbacks that are laid on top of each other create the climb to the top of the forest.  This was Hans’ specialty and it allowed the rider to gain elevation, make a turn, and then have some rest on a long straight track towards the next switchback.  Approaching the top of the mountain we decided to utilize a lot of the existing ledge rock for the trail.  This is where Brooke’s Rocon (chain geared motorcycle with eight inch wheels) with a homemade trailer attached hauled buckets of gravel to reinforce the muddy areas between the ledge rock.  I remember pushing the Rocon up the trail because we had loaded it with too much weight one day.  Yes, we were indeed possessed back then.  We also had volunteer days where we did not just rake but we actually had our first grub hoes put to work.  This was probably the first type of trail that was benched, some roots removed, and most of the topsoil taken off to expose the subsoil layer.  This subsoil layer creates a firm surface and allows you to shed water by outsloping and nicking out on the side of the trail.

Brooke brought a more engineered and technical focus to our building.  He was instrumental in getting FOTW to the next level with IMBA classes and new tools.

Today Dragon’s tail is a bit different.  A big winter storm blew down many trees on the top and we had to eventually close it and make the reroutes we have today.  We eventually renamed parts of Dragon’s Tail to Back Door from Hayden West up to the top.  The naming came by all three of us creating slogans ideas and catchy names but in the long run it was Hans who coined most of the trail names that stuck.  The trail climbs the forest and then travels through the north south line on the ridge and then snakes back down, like a long Dragon’s Tail lying over the area.

Through the years Dragon’s Tail has deteriorated mostly because of location to water holding areas, lack of proper water shedding and the blow down from years ago.  Large trees covered the top to the point it was hard to cut them all away plus it has allowed a lot of underbrush to grow up now that there is more sunlight getting to the base.  This season the FOTW Trail Crew took on these challenges with the remaining RTP grant we received.  DT was rebenched, outsloped, water bars added, a few bridges were built, hundreds of feet of armoring added, pruned, and we used our new-but-old technique of creating corduroy.  Once again, we only use this technique when we are to far away to haul material in or unable to find any near by.  In 5 years we will need to replace those areas again.



            To enhance this long sinuous trail even more, the addition of features was added, taking advantage of existing rock, boulders and drops along the trail.  At the start Dragon’s Tail was installed as a climbing trail to get to the top and then go to Wolf Tree, Passing the Horizon, etc.  Now with the new work completed, rerouting and the addition of features the trail is as popular going from either Economou or Hayden West.


We hope you enjoyed this series about the HTF and the RTP grant we received.  You can see it is not any one person who does all the things it takes to put in a network.  Instead it takes years to create, rotating personnel, good building technique, design and a community that will support and utilize it.  That is why it is so crucial to get two more folks who support the HTF and are a Hinesburg resident to join the HTF committee (see our recent Trail Crew Update).

We hope you enjoyed this small series and some of the background and key passionate people who have been part of it.  Thank-you for your support financially and philosophically.

Ride On

Mickey Stone

Current FOTW Trail Director

Representing FOTW Board of Directors, Trail Crew and members.

Recent Trail Crew News and a Big Thanks to Josh Finkelstein!

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The crew took a long needed week off from the spring maintenance and the summer building season last week.  Twelve uninterrupted weeks out on the trails in our seven networks maintaining, renovating, shedding water, building bridges/features, benching and out slopping the trails has a tendency to take a toll on your body.  Fortunately, our timing was great because it was a wet week with several cold fronts moving through so we would have had to take some days off anyway.  A big thank-you to Josh Finkelstein, CVU graduate from Charlotte who has worked with us since June.  Josh did his senior community project with FOTW last season and liked it so much he wanted to work full time.  This is Josh’s second season with us and he is headed to Northeastern College in Massachusetts next week.  His course of study will be chemical engineering.  Thanks Josh for a great hard working season and good luck in the big city.


            The TC moved from Saxon Hills to the south side of HTF to work on the grueling Back Door trail that links the HTF to Carse Hills.  After a quick walk through with local Chris Hill (an avid biker and supporter of FOTW) we flagged and tagged the areas that needed renovation.  On Monday 8/18 the TC and 35 Green Mountain Valley School kids and teachers joined us for a volunteer workday.  Sam Jackson of GMVS organized three groups of athletes to work in the Waitsfield Valley and over the mountain to work outside their community.  This community outreach was part of their orientation before classes start on Tuesday.  We split the athletes up in six groups and hiked them one and half miles up the trail and began derooting, benching, armoring and shedding water.  They were fun, animated and a huge help.  Thanks GMVS, see you on the slopes.


            With a great start on Back Door by the GMVS students, the TC decided to finish the week out there on the south side of HTF on Back Door.  Several reroutes were put in and lots and lots of derooting.  This trail gets a lot of use by our “epic riders” who like to go from Richmond or Sleepy Hollow through HTF to Carse and back the same way.  This one and half mile trail can be grueling to climb especially if it is wet.   The trail meanders through a deciduous hardwood forest with over 50% beech trees dominating the population.  Beech trees have many surface roots that run like fingers on the ground and can be very slippery even when dry.  Our goal was to make it a less strenuous climb.  So check it out on Friday of this week when we finish our first phase.  With the weather cooling now is the time for the epic ride, but now you can climb Back Door instead of taking Main Road back.


The TC will be back at Saxon next week to finish the roller coaster on Flo.

And just because it bears repeating…
News from the Hinesburg Town Forest
The Hinesburg Town Forest Committee has just completed some great work on the Economou Road / Eagle Trail to improve tread surface and drainage. They ask that all users please WALK ONLY through the new work to avoid creating tire ruts while the trail stabilizes for the next month. 
Please Help Fellowship Expand the Trail Network in the HTF
The Hinesburg Town Forest Committee currently has two vacancies. The Committee has final say over what goes in the Forest – and it has not always looked favorably on mountain biking, even now. Fellowship would love to expand our network in the HTF and this will not happen unless we get better support on the HTF Committee. You must be a Hinesburg resident and attend one meeting a month.
Contact Chris Haviland at of the Hinesburg Town Office at of call 802.482.2281 x1223 for info. 

Enjoy the Trails

FOTW Trail Crew

The History of the Hinesburg Town Forest Trails – Part Deux!

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After finishing Maiden at the end of May this year we tackled the ever-ignored International Trail.  This is one of the oldest trails in the HTF and was probably started around 1995/96. The only other trails in there at that time were logging roads and the Eagle Trail.  With our RTP grant we wanted to create a multi use, beginner to intermediate loop as a base for this network that has had some haphazard design.  International received its name by local bikers who rode around an old rusted International pick up truck.  Today’s location of the trail is different than when it was established but it is more connected to the rest of the HTF system now.


The trail was installed as more of a climbing trail from east to west that followed up and down the contour lines of less than 75’ as it went past two small hills of about 1100’ just to the south and above the trail less than a 1000’.  This area for years was popular with mud bogging and 4-wheelers.  The forest has been logged extensively and this area housed a lot of the roads and log landings for staging lumber to be hauled away.  The other challenges with this trail is it is a the bottom plateau of the two hills so it receives pressurized water from above through ledge rock and many natural primary seasonal streams that are intermittent through the year.  Thus, lots of mud and flowing water going through during spring and when there is a hard rain.  Probably the wettest trail in our whole system.


International can resemble a stream sometimes.

So needless to say we had our hands full with trying to solve this and create the best ways to make it rideable right after a storm.  Our secondary goal was to make it enjoyable for walker and bikers because before it was a long straight trail.  When you add that to the puzzle you have a fun problem-solving endeavor to play with.  The 1.6 mile trail now has a:  125’, 30’, 40’, 25’,20’ and a 15’ bridge spanning wet areas throughout the year with a 32’’ tread for most.  The use of the natural stone on the ground and on ledge rock that is able to break apart allows you to create these bomb proof “Roman Roads” I was discussing in the last part of this blog.  We made a series of actual waterfalls on the trail that were gouged out over 2’ deep and had a length over 60’.  So we employed our landscape skills and built a rock armored step system that could be rode or walked either way.  These were some of the most challenging due to the amount of material to collect, funneling water through it but at the same time not letting it erode or move all the material away.  Plus make them fun or with a feature!

Int2  Int3

 One of our many bridges.                     Trail crew installed many feet of Roman Roads.

Several reroutes with features were added throughout the trail to go around wet areas and to change the monotony of a straight line for over 400-1500’.  One of the best ones is to the east end where it meets Passing the Horizon and Homestead.  We had the chance to use some natural boulders that were 10x12x20’ and we linked several together with different rock faces to take.  We even added in some downhill berm turns.


Tim and Walt buffing out a downhill berm


Probably one the most ambitious and creative but yet functional projects was installing a new approach to International and Homestead through the old apple orchard and settlers cabin. We created a series of chicanes and switchback to climb from 700’-900’.  Nice long rest areas in between short steep turning elevation changes with a few omega turns to get some speed.  An omega turn is one that climbs in elevation, makes a directional change of over 180 degrees and puts in a little downhill glide after you make the elevation turn.  They are unique and a blast to ride.  All in all, it was a pleasure with our crew, Ben and Jerry’s, and volunteers on trail nites renovating a trail that was almost a rushing creek.


An example of an Omega turn

Maiden and International make an interesting, challenging, scenic, fun 3-mile loop to start your ride, make it your ride or to get to one of the upper trails.  Remember these are multi use trails and you will see all levels on them so recreate appropriately and yield to the novice and slower mover.  Nest issue part 3 Dragons’ Tail.


Volunteer night on International reroute

The Recreation Trails Program Grant is one major way that we fund our trails. Membership fees contribute a lot, too, but we’re always fundraising. If you haven’t checked out $5 a Foot Fundraiser, where we raffling off any size Giant Trance Advanced (carbon!), for just $5 a chance.

Raffle ends August 15th – Sign up Now!


The History of the Hinesburg Town Forest Trails – Introduction

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In the winter of 2011 Andy Weis, former FOTW Director and Mickey Stone prepared a 25-page explanation of why we needed to renovate the trail system in the Hinesburg Town Forest (HTF). Material, labor, volunteer help estimates were configured in order to make Maiden, International and Dragon’s Tail have less impact to the surrounding environment and to make the trails sustainable for multi use users like; hikers, bikers, snowshoers and cross country skiers. This application and report needed letters of approval, intent and references as well as detailed labor and material estimates. It then needed to be tracked and documented throughout the building process. No small task to say the least. The process took approximately 40 plus hours between measuring in the field, writing the grant and collecting the intended approvals and needed letters to accompany the grant.

The HTF between the years on 2005-20011 went through many political and environmental changes. The town of Hinesburg has seen a rise in population, home building and commercial businesses. The HTF for years was cared for and managed by a Town Forest Committee who we worked very closely with FOTW too install the original trails in the early years of 2000-2005. At that time we were looked upon as good stewards and keeping the impact to the forest at a low level. Before 2000 the forest was home to motorcross climbs, mud bogging like they have in Hanksville and regular 4-wheeler use for hunting, fire wood and recreation. All fun sports too, but that kind of use was really taking a toll on the hydrological, aquatic and trail system. Noise pollution, carbon emissions, garbage etc. littered the areas in and around the forest.

So at that point, Steve Russell and the HTF committee allowed FOTW to go in sign, make new trails for people to use (non motorized) and to steward the land. This was when Hans Jenny (original FOTW founder) Brooke Scatchard, Chris Hill and Mickey Stone designed, laid out and cut in or raked the original trails. It was a fun creating time when Mtn Biking was still a fledgling sport. It was not uncommon to have 30-40 people a decade ago assisting on 8-10 trail days throughout the season. A special thank-you and acknowledgement of dedication for the work, drive and passion from Hans Jenny, Chris Hill and Brooke Scatchard for their imprint on the HTF.

Hinesburg’s select board around 2005 added some more levels to managing the forest. They started a long-term logging, forest management and trail plans all to be done separately but connected. The creation of the Hinesburg Trails committee and the Hinesburg Town Forest committee were put in place to manage all of Hinesburg’s land use areas. During this time between 2006 and 2010 many residents, individual groups and committee members got involved with what is the real use for the HTF. So a ban on new trails was implemented until they finished their documentation, research and decision-making to how they would like to have the public use the land. There were some strong issues on a lot of fronts and the HTF was neglected during this time due to the controversy around it. Today FOTW works in conjunction with the Trails and Forest committee to ensure we as stewards are following thier management plan. You can go to the Hinesburg Town Office website to view the Forest Plan. Thus the reason to go for the RTP grant so we could get a jumpstart in order to get the forest back under control for bikers and hikers.

Popular trails like Maiden and International looked like the pics below.

photo5m photo6m

The fall of 2012 we heard that we received the $20,000 grant and we started work in the mid summer of 2013. When Andy and I wrote the grant we wanted to repair and build stronger trust and relationships with the Hinesburg Trails and Forest committee. We did this by making International and Maiden accessible as our easiest loop in the forest. The trails were widened so people could see on coming traffic, bridges were constructed on Maiden so two people could walk side by side, most all roots were removed and the trail surface was dug down to the subsoil layer to ensure a hard surface. Trails were benched and water made not to sit on the trail but to be shed off of it. Every whole or water catching area was either armored or bridged over.

Now here is where we have received a fair amount of constructive feedback, rightfully so I guess. Many users (mtn bikers) say we are dumbing it down, making it too easy and taking the thrill out of the trails. I guess we have! For good reason though! The entire trail network in the forest comprises of about 15 miles. Hayden Hill East/West parking lots are the main ones used for point of entry. When building a multi use trail system you want your easiest, most bomb proof loops down near the parking areas for hikers, families, novices, dogs etc. So our reasoning was to make these trails a bit more user friendly since they are going to be used the most. Plus these trails were not researched with the knowledge we have today they were just placed because it was a way to get up the mountain.

During the grant we had to jump through many hoops. We had to agree to makes sure we did not upset clean water flow, that is why we bridged and armored all wet areas. This is done so hikers and bikers do not constantly create a mud hole, which can clog water passing, add more sediment to the Texas Hill Brook and disrupt the natural fauna /flora and aquatic life. So each area we removed the salamanders, mudpuppies, aquatic insects to a nearby wet area and then went in and covered theses areas so water could flow freely. Not one crossing’s footprint was changed at all so to allow for the biotic life to continue and flourish. By not doing this you would have 100-foot areas that were mud holes. So the reason to bridge and armor other than being sustainable is done so the water flow is pure, low sediment seeps out and damaging aquatic life by biking or hiking through a stream is minimalized.

Below are some step-by-step pics of our crew armoring. We prep the area by digging all the mud out, collect rocks nearby that are in the ground, pitch them (stand on edge) and place them so water can run threw, collect schist, sedimentary and crystallized rock and pulverize it to fit into the cracks and finally tamp it all down. This is much like what the Roman’s did with the slaves that created some of the first high tech trading routes. We call it roman roads on the trail.

photo2m photo3m photo4m


When the area in question is over 50-60 feet or goes over a deep dip or creek crossing we place a bridge with stringers, stakes and decking for human traffic to cross over the wet areas. We pride ourselves on making the entrance and exit to these bridges seamless and smooth so it is safe for the novice ability to handle.

photo7m      photo8m

Maiden ends at Hayden West from the East parking lot and utilizes a natural bridge/dam/mill wall that was erected in the 1900’s. There are over 1000 feet of armoring or roman road sections in there and approximately 900 feet of bridgework. The entire trail is benched down to the subsoil and out slopped so water will shed all the time, truly a tremendous task to create for 1.2 miles. A big thank- you to all who volunteered last year on Maiden, commercial sponsors, Andy Weis, Josh Finklestein and Walt Silbernagel and of course our Board of Directors. Special thank-you to local stewards Chris Havland, Ian Carlton and Peter Hauserman. Hope you enjoyed the first part of the story and we hope it answered some questions and explained the scope of the work. Happy hiking and biking.


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Thanks for visiting. We are excited about the 2014 season and continuing our mission to collaborate with landowners and members on public trails for our community.

Check back throughout the season for a unique perspective on trail projects, events, and all things FOTW.

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