announced November 10, 2018
From the Caledonian Record...
by Amy Ash Nixon
EAST BURKE — Kingdom Trails Association has been working to expand its trail network beyond its main areas in Lyndon and Burke, to add variety for the thousands of repeat mountain biking enthusiasts as well as to reduce some trail congestion.
Kingdom Trails “recognizes that there is traffic coming into East Burke and parking concerns and so one of the ways to address this is by creating more trails, extending the network in different directions and not just focusing it in the downtown area,” said Abigail Long, executive director of KTA. “KTA has this mission of creating a healthy community and regional economy and that doesn’t just mean East Burke.”
About half of KTA’s trails are in Lyndon, she noted.
By working to develop trails in new places like East Haven and West Burke, KTA is hoping to see prosperity bubble up where its bikers move out to, and that “a general store may open in an area where there may not be one right now, it could be attainable if folks are consistently going there.”
East Haven has about five miles of new mountain biking trails, officially added to the network in September, said Long, in an interview last week. KTA has active feelers out in a number of locations to develop new trails, but East Haven is one area where new ground was recently broken and celebrated, reported Long. “The one very exciting movement and concrete movement that we did this summer is we opened a few trails in East Haven, so that’s a whole other town, and it’s the first time that Kingdom Trails has crossed a county line,” she said of the move into Essex County.
KTA created the new trails on land owned by Walter and Winny Norman near Marshall Newland and White School roads off Route 114. They are also close to other established trails, including the Moose Alley and Trillium Trails.
“Through the generosity of the Norman family, Kingdom Trails was able to extend our growth north and east,” said Long of the trails opened officially in September amid a community celebration held at the East Haven Community Building. Long said, “There are a couple of already existing logging roads out on that property, so we were actually able to make a few trails off of those and use the logging roads, as well. We contracted with Knight Ide, a local trail builder a little bit last summer and some this summer and were able to build the new trails.” She said about five miles of new trails have been added, “But it actually seems like a lot more because of the already existing roads. It’s a very nice ride from the East Burke hub.”
Bikers can head out to East Haven and come back for a longer, more varied ride, said Long. “It’s different than our traditional bread and butter trails, it’s more flowy downhill and has a lot more features like rocks, different types of soils, it’s a different experience, so folks don’t get bored on their trail experience, now there’s something new and different. We’re very excited about it.”
KTA paid for an expanded parking area adjoining the lot at the East Haven Community Building, and a celebration to kick off the new trails was held on Sept. 1, said Long, who added the East Haven Select Board have been most welcoming.
The trails in East Haven all are named for wildlife, and when the new trails were being carved, many different animals were seen. Long said on the day of the community celebration there were moose tracks in the parking lot. She said the select board is happy to have the expanded parking area for about 40 cars available for pushing snow onto during the winter, when mountain bikers aren’t using it.
One Burke Efforts To Create Trails In Burke Hollow, W. Burke
Long said Kingdom Trails is working through its trail manager, CJ Scott, and the One Burke committee process to obtain landowner permission to expand trails through Burke Hollow and into West Burke, a goal that came out of last year’s Community Visit brainstorming process through the Vermont Council on Rural Development. One of three task forces created from that process is focused in part on expanding trails into the other parts of Burke.
Long explained that Scott is working with the One Burke committee “in a collaborative effort with all the private landowners identified and the next step is getting permissions,” to create trails on land in the other parts of town; the hope is to create trails to Burke Town School, as well, so children can ride to school, she said.
Select Board member Christine Emmons said at a recent meeting with Long that the fact townspeople were the ones who raised the trails expansion idea during the One Burke process and will now be calling on their neighbors about permission to expand trails was exciting, “It could be your neighbor coming to see you to say I think we could benefit from this,” she said.
KTA Passes Being Sold at Burke Mountain, Soon at Old Bag Balm Building
Another way to try to break up the E. Burke congestion is by selling KTA passes at more locations, said Long. Passes for Kingdom Trails are sold now at Burke Mountain, where there is a bike park accessible through the ski lift, and soon, when the former Bag Balm building in downtown Lyndonville opens as a new café, KTA passes will be sold there, said Long.
KTA donated a few bike racks handmade by trail crew member Dallas Leach, who is a welder, said Long. “We’re thrilled to have somewhat of a presence down there when they do open,” said Long.
Another hoped-for add-on for KTA’s network is the former Town of Lyndon town garage on VT Route 114 where hopes to convert that property to a green space are being developed. That site could be a place where trails head out from, an area for parking, and recreation to include biking, a kayak launch and more, said Long. She said KTA is talking with the town about the vision for that site, which is right along the river and has great potential for recreation and use.
Other Towns Eyed By KTA, Grant Hope
KTA is also at work to create a map to help draw riders out to the dirt and gravel roads in more surrounding towns, including Concord, Kirby and Victory. Grants to develop that map and marketing materials has been sought for that project. “Those grants, if awarded, will map the already existing dirt and gravel roads in that area and then that
map could be marketed,” said Long, including an online tool for bikers to show the long trail from Concord to Burke, crossing through Kirby and Victory. That area has many features from historic sites to lakes, sugar shacks, “stunning views,” as well as
restaurants and lodging establishments and other businesses which could benefit from having more visitors come by their establishments, said Long, and all those locations would be included in the maps, showing where people can refuel, spend the night and more.
Part of what KTA is trying to do, said Long, “is spread the wealth.” “it all exists, it’s just putting it down on paper and marketing it a bit,” said Long of the existing infrastructure
in the outer towns with dirt and gravel roads, many sights to see, and businesses where people can resupply their food, get water, find a place to stay overnight, eat, and more. “They’ve got what a traveler wants,” she said.
Cynthia Stuart, a member of the Town of Concord Planning Commission, said on Friday, “Many outlying communities are excited to be working with Kingdom Trails as they expand their footprint and economic impact throughout the Northeast Kingdom.”
“The Towns of Concord and Burke are anxiously awaiting to hear if we will be awarded a municipal planning grant that will allow us to work with Kingdom Trails to map out a gravel biking trail from Burke to Victory, Concord, and Kirby in order to offer a new biking experience to visitors and community members.”