Vermont’s first adaptive bike trail network gives every body a chance to play outside

Vermonters can’t get enough outdoor sports. But not all activities have been made with everyone in mind.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 6:20 AM EST
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BOLTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters can’t get enough outdoor sports, but not all trails in the past were constructed with everyone in mind. Now, Vermont’s first adaptive trail network will soon be ready for riders in Bolton.

Looking at the newly constructed Driving Range trail network, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s the first in the state designed for every Vermonter.

But adaptive mountain bikers know what it’s like to use a trail that doesn’t accommodate their needs. “For us to go into a trail network and not knowing what’s there, what obstacles are there, it’s truly scary,” said Greg Durso, an adaptive mountain biker and the program director at the Kelly Brush Foundation, which empowers people with spinal cord injuries. He says access to outdoor recreation can be hard with lots of unknowns on paths. “I don’t want a trail that just works for me either. I want to go on the trials with my community and my friends, and to be able to do that together is the most important part.”

The Bolton trail was the brainchild of the nonprofit Richmond Mountain Trails and Berne Broudy. Broudy says a few years ago she was riding with Durso and realized how challenging the path was making his experience. “Our goal is to be a great example, to show what’s possible to build an adaptive trail network that’s fun for all mountain bikers,” she said.

The hope is that this trail network will be the first of many. The Vermont Mountain Biking association has assessed existing trails this year to see how they could be improved or transformed to become adaptive. “Creating those materials that make it that much more welcoming and easier for folks to get to the state and then from there on, it’s really continuing those assessments, continuing the retrofits. Working carefully with the trail builders,” said the association’s Nick Bennette.

A universal trail means it has a larger trail width and turn radius. It also means there are wider bridges, more stable tread surfaces, and passable obstacles. A universal trail doesn’t mean it’s easier, it means it’s for everyone.

And bikers like Durso say they’re ready to see the next path taken. “I just hope that we’re gonna take this into consideration and understand that you can make easy changes to create more universal access to everyone. That’s what we want. Everybody can just get out and do what they want to do I think that’s the important part, that it’s not just for us. It’s for everyone,” said Durso.

The first part of the trail will be open in the spring. It will have five downhill trails and one long uphill trail.

Richmond Mountain Trail also said they’ll be building a 53-spot parking lot at the base of the trail in the spring as well.