Preview of 2022 Trails Projects
June 8, 2022 |
Mud season is behind us, and young people are gearing up to complete 60 weeks of trail work in Vermont this season with VYCC.
(In addition, crews will complete 90 weeks of forest health, carpentry, and water quality projects; plus an 8-month food & farm season.)
So, what projects will 2022 trails crews take on, and what is the work really like?
Hannah Corbin, 2021 Crew Leader, talked with us recently about trail work. She offers: “Trail work can seem intimidating. I felt intimidated when I started … We start with foundational knowledge of sustainable trails: it’s mostly about water, and considering where people will want to go.”
ONE: Hyper-Local Trail Building
A youth crew will continue work on a network that connects VYCC’s property with the Richmond Town Forest. Members will learn foundational trail building skills like benching and drainage, while giving the Town of Richmond and its visitors new trails to enjoy!
TWO: Mountain Bike Trails at Pine Hill Park, Rutland
Another trails crew will construct mountain bike trail in the heart of Rutland. For several years, VYCC crews have been working with Pine Hill Partnership as they build a high-quality mountain bike trail system in Pine Hill Park.
Mountain bike trails require specific features and techniques; the most signature feature of a mountain bike trail is banked turns. The Members of this crew won’t necessarily arrive with skills or experience. In fact, on most crews, no trail building skills are required.
When building new trail, an early step is to create a ‘corridor.’ This means clearing space for the hiker/biker to pass through. Hannah, on what she calls the corridor sacrifice: “You get rid of some wild plants to keep people in a contained area – so the rest of the forest can do its thing.”
THREE: Rebuilding the Burrows Trail on Camel’s Hump
Among Vermont’s most popular hiking trails, the Burrows Trail on Camel’s Hump is being rebuilt from the top down over the next three years. VYCC crews are working in collaboration with Green Mountain Club and Northwoods Stewardship Center to do the work.
Keegan Tierney, VYCC alum and current Director of Field Programs at Green Mountain Club, says of the Burrows Trail: “It’s just being loved to death.”
Crews will re-establish the trail width to be wider than originally constructed, but narrower than what recent overuse has caused. They will rebuild damaged stairs and widen drainage structures. Multiple VYCC crews will have a chance to work on this project over the next three years!
Read more about this project on VT Digger: Green Mountain Club plans complete overhaul of popular Camel’s Hump hiking trail – VTDigger
FOUR: The most rugged and demanding trails project of 2022
Constructing stone staircases on the Appalachian trail, 2.5 miles from the nearest road. Each day, the crew will trek 1.5 miles from campsite to work site.
The crew will carry all their tools, gear and food in. The work on this high use trail is to construct several sustainable rock features: staircases and drainage structures. As Hannah describes, stone stairs are the hardest structures VYCC crews build with nothing but bodies and hand tools.
This crew will likely spend significant effort ‘rock shopping:’ finding large rocks near the trail (preferably uphill), unearthing them, and purposing them into stairs and other structures.
Hannah: “Sometimes it’s funny how hard something is, like rolling a really big rock and laughing about how ridiculous and hard it is to do.”
We know they will get it done, though. Afterward, they will ‘naturalize’ the area so the only evidence of their work that hikers (and animals) will see is the trail itself.
No matter the project, building trails protects our natural resources, supports outdoor recreation, and offers tremendous growth.
Thank You for Supporting These Projects
As Hannah advises, crews successfully complete challenging projects when they embrace an “all-in” mindset. It takes a community to ensure crews have all the tools they need.
Our spring fundraising effort began June 4. We’re so grateful to our supporters for making generous gifts in support of these projects!