Tag - biking

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
Biking For Everyone

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

By: Lea Kilvádyová, Lamoille County Planning Commission

This year’s foliage marks the second season of a year-round use of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail between Morristown and Cambridge. And, what a ride it has been to be able to take advantage of this precious addition to living well in Lamoille!

For me, the Rail Trail has become a pleasurable way to commute on bike from my home in Johnson to my place of work in Morrisville. For an after work and after-school activity, my family has developed a fun routine riding our bikes from Johnson Village to an iconic bridge overlooking Lamoille River in Johnson. In addition to biking, the trail has become my red carpet for running; an activity I have been attempting to start and sustain for years. Now – thanks to the Rail Trail, I have successfully been putting in 5K twice a week! I encourage all to explore the Trail; it is peaceful, safe and very scenic. In addition, unlike most terrain in Lamoille County, it is uniquely flat which makes it accessible to all ages.

Lamoille County Towns have worked hard to make the use of the trail easy and fun. Through the dedication of local volunteers, and with help from grant funding agencies such as the Northern Borders Regional Commission, Cambridge, for example, built an award-winning trailhead facility that includes a railway-themed playground. Hyde Park designed a state-of-the-art wayfinding system to better connect the trail with the village center. Johnson’s trailhead kiosk, adjacent to the spectacularly back-dropped Old Mill Park, includes essential amenities such as a drinking fountain and a wheelchair accessible port-o-let.

My organization, Lamoille County Planning Commission, assisted the towns’ Rail Trail efforts by securing the funding, providing project management support, and creating maps and information brochures for the section of the trail between Cambridge and Morristown. The maps are available at all trailheads in Lamoille County and can also be downloaded here: https://www.lvrt.org/trail-maps. Copley Hospital is among generous sponsors that contributed to the printing of the brochures.

Last but not least, a big thank you belongs to the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers for overseeing the construction of the Rail Trail and spearheading a fundraising campaign to complete the full 93-miles of the trail between St. Johnsbury and Swanton.

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

By: Todd Thomas

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

Did you know that something happened this summer that will change all of our lives? And no, I am not talking about the Br-exit vote. Nor am I talking about the duplicitous NFL Commissioner punishing Tom Brady for footballs that were naturally deflated (alas us Vermonters know how cold air works in the winter).

I am talking about the ribbon-cutting that took place in June in Morrisville for our section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. As a land use planner, I love talking about how transportation shapes the built environment, especially how providing active transportation choices can improve the physical health and economic wellbeing of a community. But first I will tell you how our new rail trail is going to change downtown Morrisville, much like how a similar recreational amenity slowly but profoundly changed where I grew up.

As a kid, I grew up on Boston’s North Shore and I was afforded a front row seat to the metamorphosis of towns like Newburyport and Ipswich as recreational bicycling slowly invaded each of these downtowns, forever changing them. This “invasion” started when the commuter train line into Boston started replacing the train’s passenger seats with bike-racks in one of the train cars heading out to the coast on Saturdays in the summer. This train bike-rack pilot program quickly grew in popularity to where, before long, on various warm weather days, trains were rolling north out of Boston’s North Station with more cyclists and bikes onboard headed to Newburyport and Ipswich than regular train passengers. Not surprisingly, all of these cyclists starting patronizing my sleepy local lunch spots after a hard day of pedal-touring places like Plum Island in Newburyport. Pretty soon these lunch spots were no longer sleepy and the locals even had to contend with lycra-wearing road warriors for seats at our (no-longer-so-local) pub on Friday night. I think I finally realized how grand this recreational-induced transformation had become when a local bait shop turned into a gift shop seemingly overnight – like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. 

In Vermont, everything is smaller and everything seems to take a little longer than it does in southern New England. So while I do expect the opening of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to profoundly and positively affect downtown Morrisville, like it did for Newburyport and Ipswich, it could take a decade or so for that to happen. When high-value active recreational opportunities like the new rail-trail in Morrisville, or even the Rec Path is Stowe, are offered to people, these recreation amenities become heavily used and become cherished attributes of the community.

So let this blog post encourage you to dust off that bike in your garage and put it to good use on the rail trail. In doing so, you will be improving your health and making the already fabulous downtown Morrisville even more vibrant. Hopefully I will see you out on the rail-trail, where I will be pedaling towards a healthier me and a more economically robust downtown Morrisville. And finally, don’t say I didn’t warn you when, ten years from now, you realize how important the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail was towards furthering the revitalization of our ever-improving downtown.

Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.


Biking For Everyone

By: Caleb Magoon

mountain bike

Biking should be a fun, healthy activity that anyone can do, right? Well, it is…but there are limitations. Whether you like to mountain bike, road bike or just cruise around with the kids, riding can be intimidating. Finding safe and accessible terrain can be a challenge for the young, old and novices. Our paved roads are crowded and often quite hilly. Our mountain bike trails are second to none, though they are mostly intermediate or expert level with very few true beginner trails. Although our assets for biking around Lamoille County are great, we’ve historically had limited options for people who aren’t hard-core enthusiasts.

I am happy to say that this is changing. Clubs and organizations have recognized the need for terrain, trails and pathways more suitable for the young, old, novices, and first timers. One huge development will be the completion of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. I don’t know of any other surface in the state that is equal in length, flat, and free of motorized traffic.

Such a project represents the democratization of biking. It will be a place where anyone can ride comfortably, easily, and safely. Whether you ride for fun, exercise, commuting, or all three, LVRT will open up a lot of terrain for use during all four seasons. It will also connect our communities in a new way, linking together many existing recreation assets.

Another new development is the new mountain bike trails being built on Cricket Hill in Hyde Park. Cricket Hill has been a fantastic free community resource for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking for over a decade. Now they’re poised to add mountain biking to the repertoire. Mello Velo is one of the newest mountain bike clubs to spring out of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association. For their first project, Mellow Velo wanted to focus on trails for novice riders. Cricket Hill was a great location already possessing parking, a trailhead and some double track trails. The group wrote a state recreation trails grant for $30,000 to make the project happen. These trails will be fun for anyone, but will be especially great for kids and adults new to the sport. Completion is expected this summer.

Creating recreation for “non-expert” riders can sometimes be challenging since novices don’t always speak out or advocate as strongly as sports enthusiasts. But as these biking assets have become available, I have realized the importance of providing biking to all. I’ve heard countless stories of kids finding their first groove on a mountain bike or older folks getting back into riding late in life because they have a safe place to do it. Providing resources to everyone is an important part of growing any sport. It’s good to see things moving in that direction for the health and benefit of Lamoille County residents.

Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.