Vermont trail projects connecting communities

Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 8:20 PM EDT
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GROTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Groton is home to five out of the seven state parks in the Groton State Forest, and now the town is looking to upgrade its town-owned trails that connect the Groton State Forest and the Cross Vermont Trail.

“The Groton State Forest and the whole system is incredible. A lot of the visitors come and just stay in the parks or use the trails around the parks, so part of this is to better connect them and help them understand what lies beyond,” said Mike Gaiss with the Groton Recreation Committee.

The town has been awarded $225,000 in state grant funding for the Groton Gateway project, which has three main goals: upgrade the town-owned trails to get them up to par with state-owned trails, improve access and signage, and better connect the town village with the trail system.

“Connecting the trail bed to the village is always a long-standing goal, so the terrific thing about the grant is it will start to enable us to take that next step,” Gaiss said.

Gaiss says connecting the two would be done by a proposed green space in between the village and a new trailhead on Little Italy Road.

This new trailhead in the village would also be converted to a parking lot to hopefully attract even more trail-goers, including snowmobilers like Gary Lamberton.

“There’s literally no parking in the town for this, so there’s absolutely a need,” said Lamberton, who rides with the Buckaroos of 302, a VAST organization.

Much of the trail parking is two miles away from the proposed site at the Upper Valley Grill and General Store. Owner Bill Kane says the lot fills up quickly during snowmobile season.

“More business, more people. Would love to see more people in the area. Groton’s a great town. Been here for 30 years, and anything we can do to make it grow,” Kane said.

Gaiss says the recreation committee and planning commission will be working with the select board on each aspect of the project, and he hopes to see progress within the next year.

And Groton isn’t the only town to receive state money for Cross Vermont Trail projects.

“Short term goal or five-year goal as an association is really focused on what’s the most connected trail we can make,” said Greg Western, the executive director of the Cross Vermont Trail Association.

Western says Cabot, Montpelier and East Montpelier are pursuing similar projects.

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