Vermont getting more mountain biking trails to connect communities
ROCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is getting 10 new miles of mountain biking trails. Our Olivia Lyons shows us how they will connect communities and bring money to rural areas.
“There’s a lot of real excitement and interest in this project,” said Caitrin Maloney of the Velomont Trail Collective.
The Velomont Trail will feature 10 miles of mountain biking trails for intermediate riders, utilizing new and existing skiing and hiking trails.
The trail connects the town of Rochester to the town of Pittsfield.
R.J. Thompson is the executive director of the Vermont Huts Association. He says they hope to break ground on the Velomont Trail in 2021.
“It’s actually relatively fast in terms of trail development and we definitely have our work cut out for us, but we’re feeling good about our opportunities right now,” Thompson said.
The $800,000 project is largely funded by a grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission.
Along the Velomont Trail is Chittenden Brook Hut, a place people rent and use as their home base. The hut is very successful in the winter thanks to backcountry skiers. In the summer, rates are lower because demand drops.
“However, last summer we saw an uptick probably due to COVID. Once the mountain bike trail comes through, we do expect to see similar occupancy rates based on the opportunity to connect two towns and stay overnight in a hut on your way there,” Thompson said.
The grant includes a proposed hut on South Pond in Chittenden.
Mountain biking has been a growing sport for over a decade, and the pandemic is driving interest even further.
“It’s great, the more trails the better. It seems like every town now has a place to go play,” Scott Cole said.
Cole sells, fixes and repairs bikes at Col Cycling, his shop in Rutland.
“If you look around the country, places with bike paths and things like that really get good tourism. It can’t hurt to have people coming through your town,” Cole said.
Shifting gears, the Velomont Trail is part of something even bigger. Much like the Long Trail and Catamount Trail, a mountain bike trail will eventually run from Canada to Massachusetts, connecting existing mountain bike chapters, trail networks and towns.
“It’s a good opportunity not just to have recreational development but also drive some economic growth in some of those rural parts of the state,” Thompson said.
The aim is to complete the estimated 485 miles of trails in seven to eight years.
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