Committee working to connect trails
by Jack Deming
Apr 25, 2013 | 3085 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WILMINGTON-Spring has taken the Deerfield Valley for a ride all over the weather chart. But as soon as the ground dries up and the last bits of snow disappear from the deepest parts of the forest, a new season of hiking will be in full swing for local outdoor enthusiasts. While Wilmington already boasts a number of trails, the town trail committee has been working year-round to expand and connect its trails to the village and neighboring towns.

Currently the committee is working on four trails, blazing paths by working with landowners and committees in town to allow usage of property in their quest to make the town a hiking destination. According to trails committee chair John Greene, the trails already attract interest from tourists. “For the Mount Snow Chamber of Commerce, one of their number one questions when visitors come into town is ‘Where can we go hiking? Do you have trail maps?’”

Last year the committee did indeed put together a trail map, but there will have to be additions made if all goes as planned.

The first project the committee is working on this spring is the Village Trail Loop (the River Walk), which follows the Deerfield River from the parking lot behind the Crafts Inn on West Main Street to the 1836 Country Store. The committee is turning this trail into the village’s connector path for existing as well as future trails.

One trail in the works for next year is the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail, which is planned to begin behind the DVTA garage, and head west along Fairview Avenue on the old railbed. The committee is currently waiting on a permit process before work can begin on the trail, as well as permission from TransCanada to use portions of the land.

The Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail will then be connected with the Valley Trail, a project that Greene says has been in the works since the 1990s and is finally coming to fruition. “We’ve always had a couple of landowners we couldn’t negotiate with or whose property we could find a way around, so it always faded away, but now that’s all been worked out and it looks like it’s set to happen.”

The Valley Trail will begin near the Wilmington Inn on West Main Street, cross through Chimney Hill and the Haystack ski area, cross Handle Road and connect with the Dover Trail near Crosstown Road. While the exact mileage is not set, the trail will have room for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

In May, a bridge will be installed across the river to connect the Village Loop Trail near Mill Street. The bridge was made possible by a full funding donation by town resident Barry Reardon. This bridge will connect the Village Loop, the Hoot, Toot and Whistle, and Valley trails all in one general vicinity in the downtown.

Jacob White is the selectboard’s representative to the trails committee, and also works on the bi-town trail subcommittee, working with the town of Dover to make the Valley Trail possible. White says the committee was able to bring in John Nugent from the Windham Regional Planning Commission to create an overlay map that showed the existing snowmobile trails, and which properties would be necessary for connecting the trails. White sees the development and connecting of trails as a big win for the town, and for people who enjoy the outdoors. White himself hikes Haystack about 100 times a year.

“It’s great to have these trails meeting near the center of town,” said White. “I meet people on the trails, and nine out of 10 are from out of state and I ask them how they found out about Haystack, and they find it on the Internet. But now people will see trail heads, kiosks, and markers.”

On the east side of town, two trails are being planned. The first is the White House primitive trail, which will begin near the White House Inn, connect with the Lisle Hill-White’s Road Trail, blaze its way northeast to hook up with the trails surrounding Lake Raponda, and extend to Hogback Mountain. This trail is also awaiting a few more permission grants from property owners. The Hogback Mountain trails connect with Wilmington’s Shearer Hill Trail, which will then create a massive expansion of trails throughout the hills east of town. This, Greene says, is the point. “We want trails that connect north, south, east, and west out of the village and we’re gaining on that. If people don’t use the trails, they’re missing the outdoors, a great experience, and piece of mind. There’s nothing like being in the woods.”

While White says he prefers hiking Haystack Mountain’s trails for the view, there is a trail for everyone’s ability level.

The committee is working on putting together workdays for the annual cleanup of trails, which last year included the installation of a new bridge on the Hogback trail connector, and the group is always looking for volunteers. “Our trail committee has seen a lot more interest, and there’s a lot more energy and buzz out there this year to get these trails in. A lot of people around here really like to hike,” said Green.
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