Hubbard Park Grapples with the Multi-use Trail Challenge

By J. Gregory Gerdel

Photo courtesy of Montpelier Parks

This winter’s abundant snowfall has been a boon to the Montpelier Parks Department’s effort to provide multiple recreation options on the city’s trails, but it has also focused the need for mutual consideration among users choosing different means of locomotion on those trails.

This year has successfully included fat bike access on selected trails, but the many-years-long effort to groom tracks for classical skiing continues to be undone by walkers who step directly on the groomed tracks, either post-holing them, or obliterating them entirely. The set tracks on the main trails in Hubbard Park, and the trail from the New Shelter to the Tower in particular, rarely survive more than an hour after the staff have groomed them.

The message to the many people who walk in the park is to stay in the flat, groomed area in the middle of the trail, and not walk directly on the track set for skiing. Parks Director Geoff Beyer notes that they are now grooming a “skiers only” loop to the inside of the perimeter trail in the large field at the North Branch Park.

While a few people have expressed concern about allowing fat bike access to a limited number of trails, that concern has come from people who have not been on the trails, Beyer said. “We’ve had no complaints about an actual incident with a bike rider. People should understand that a fat bike traveling on a snow-covered trail is moving no faster than a skier,” he added.

While it’s not expected that dog walkers will keep their pets from walking on the ski tracks, their paws make a small impression relative to those of human footprints. And many park users have observed that dog owners have been increasingly diligent about picking up after their pets.

Beyer pointed out that walkers wearing snowshoes have consistently stayed on the flat surfaces of the groomed trails this year, respecting the ski tracks. On the several side trails through the deep powder snow, snowshoes, and back-country skis are complementary modes of winter adventure.

For maps of the trail systems in Hubbard and North Branch Parks visit: montpelier-vt.org/211/Park-Maps

Information about current grooming and trail conditions, along with postings about activities and special events, are regularly posted on facebook.com/MontpelierParks

U-32 Limits Access to School Ski Trails

The U-32 administration reports problems with unauthorized skiing on the school’s trail system. Skiing is not allowed during school hours or scheduled team practices or ski events after regular school hours. The Bill Koch League, a program for children ages 5–14 run by the Onion River Nordic Ski Club, is hosted on Saturday mornings and community members may use the trails outside school hours and team practice times. If you have questions, please contact:

Lesley J Fitch, U-32 Administrative Assistant to the Principal, (802) 229-0321 ext. 5127, or lfitch@u32.org

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