Vermont gets more mountain bike trails to connect communities

ROCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) – Vermont is getting 10 new miles of mountain bike trails. Our Olivia Lyons shows us how they will connect communities and bring money to rural areas.

“There’s a lot of excitement and interest in this project,” said Caitrin Maloney of the Velomont Trail Collective.

The Velomont Trail will feature 10 miles of mountain bike trails for intermediate riders, using new and existing ski and hiking trails.

The trail connects the city of Rochester to the city of Pittsfield.

RJ Thompson is the executive director of the Vermont Huts Association. He says they hope to innovate on the Velomont Trail in 2021.

“It’s actually relatively quick in terms of trail development and we certainly have our work cut out for us, but we’re happy with our opportunities right now,” Thompson said.

The $800,000 project is largely funded by a grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission.

Along the Velomont Trail is Chittenden Brook Hut, a place people rent and use as a home base. The hut is very popular in winter thanks to cross-country skiers. In summer, prices are lower because demand drops.

“However, last summer we saw a spike likely due to COVID. Once the mountain bike trail is crossed, we expect to see similar occupancy rates based on the ability to connect two cities and spend the night in a cabin on your way,” Thompson said.

The grant includes a proposed hut on South Pond in Chittenden.

Mountain biking has been a growing sport for over a decade, and the pandemic is driving even more interest.

“It’s great, the more trails the better. It seems like every city now has a place to go and play,” Scott Cole said.

Cole sells, repairs and repairs bikes at Col Cycling, his shop in Rutland.

“If you look across the country, places with bike lanes and things like that really attract tourism. It can’t hurt to have people passing through your town,” Cole said.

Shifting, the Velomont Trail is part of something even bigger. Much like the Long Trail and the Catamount Trail, a mountain bike trail will eventually run from Canada to Massachusetts, connecting existing mountain bike chapters, trail networks, and cities.

“It’s a good opportunity to not only have recreational development, but also to drive economic growth in some of these rural parts of the state,” Thompson said.

The goal is to complete the approximately 485 miles of trails in seven to eight years.

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