Overlook trail between Intersection 30 (Dewey/PA4J) and Intersection 37 (Shimmer/Stego/Overlook view) will be closed all day Friday (9/30) and Saturday (10/1). We are doing repair work to re-tension the bridge and replace several soft stringers. Please don’t go under the ropes otherwise you’ll be walking through the swamp that now has water in it.
By the official start of summer, damage from the Spongy moth (formerly called the Gypsy moth) seemed to be tapering off. Much of the park had been affected by the moth, though interesting enough, there were some areas of the park which saw little or no defoliation.
During the first week of summer, you would see American redstart, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, veery, hermit thrush, adult yellow-bellied sapsuckers feeding their noisy young, least flycatcher, kingfisher, mallards with young, pileated woodpecker and great blue herons. Green frogs and Gray treefrogs could be heard calling near Muddy Pond, schools of young brown bullheads could be seen swimming near the shores of Rocky Pond and a number of flowers were in bloom including, yellow loosestrife, wood sorrel, yellow hop clover, bedstraw, common fleabane, and thimbleweed.
At the end of June, spongy moths were starting to go into their pupae stage. On June 30th, I met two students from the University of Vermont testing frogs at Rocky Pond for the presence of RANAVIRUS. It was part of a statewide study on amphibian diseases in Vermont.
On a walk through the forest on June 30th, I saw a house wren (still nesting in their nest box on the boardwalk), American redstart, chestnut-sided warbler, red-eyed vireo, yellow-throated vireo, downy woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, Easter pewee, indigo bunting, Eastern towhee, catbird, and Great Blue Heron and Osprey at Muddy Pond.
During the first week of July, I saw the same birds as I did on July 30th, but also saw black-capped chickadees, scarlet tanager, hairy woodpecker, ovenbird, barred owl, hermit thrush, and a great-crested flycatcher. An osprey was observed successfully catching a fish at Muddy Pond, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers were no longer calling their parents for food. Flowers in bloom included Pointed-leaved tick trefoil, rough-fruited cinquefoil, heal-all, and yellow loosestrife. Red raspberries and honeysuckle were both in berries. Both bullfrogs and green frogs were croaking at Rocky Pond. Mourning cloak and great-spangled butterflies were flying about, adult spongy moths were beginning to emerge, and an absolutely gorgeous Widow dragonfly was seen flying at Rocky Pond. Many chipmunks and gray squirrels were scurrying about.
During an early morning walk on July 11th, I was amazed at how well the forest was recovering from the season’s terrible infestation of the spongy moth. Trees were regrowing leaves and the canopy didn’t look as bare as it had a few weeks earlier. I was also surprised at how few spongy moths were flying about, unlike last year when their numbers were astronomical. Queen Ann’s Lace had started to bloom, wood ducks were swimming about at Muddy Pond, and the mourning cloak, monarch, and pearl crescent butterflies were flying about.
In mid-July, 5 new American chestnuts were planted to replace 5 which had died. There are currently 50 planted American chestnut trees in the park and 2 WILD American chestnuts which were recently discovered. Both wild American chestnuts are producing burs, but the seeds inside are sterile due to the fact they were not fertilized by other American chestnut trees, which they have to be if fertile seeds are to be produced.
On July 15th, a magnificent doe was seen on the carriage trail, and a woodchuck and Eastern cottontail were both seen on the Crusher Rd. A broad-wing hawk was flying overhead and I’m sure had its eye on one of those small mammals. The Deptford Pink was once again seen flowering under the powerlines on the Carriage Trail. Next year, if you can remember, look for this beautiful pink flower, and look at it closely. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful flowers in the park. And while you’re looking for that flower under the powerlines, listen for the call of the Eastern Towhee which nests in that area, and is a bird of beautiful colors, especially the red eyes.
During the 3rd week of July, new flowers blooming included white vervain, buttonbush (the flowers remind me of chandeliers), and steeplebush. Yellowthroats could be heard along Crusher Rd., and the beautiful Rosy Maple Moth was seen along the Carriage Trail. At Rocky Pond, you could see 3 different kinds of dragonflies, including the twelve-spotted skimmer, common whitetail, and the Elisa skimmer.
During the last week of July, I went on an evening walk the day after a major rainstorm. The trails were literally covered with red efts and young wood frogs.
On Aug. 1st, a walk through the forest proved to be very, very, quiet. The only new bird I saw was a ruby-throated hummingbird. Barred owls were still calling and a hooded merganser was seen at Rocky Pond.
During the first week of August, you could still find cardinals, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, eastern towhee, red-eyed vireo, yellow-bellied sapsucker, broad-winged hawk, pileated woodpecker, Eastern phoebe, Canada geese at Muddy Pond, indigo bunting, osprey at Muddy Pond, American redstart, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, black and white warbler, red-bellied woodpecker, Eastern wood pewee and American goldfinch. Many robins could also be seen starting to migrate south through the forest. Oh yes—active bald-faced hornet nests could easily be found here and there. Stay clear of such nests!
On August 9th, during a morning walk to Rocky Pond, I saw numerous Cedar Waxwings among the softwoods on the south side of the pond. I ask myself why it is that I always see Cedar Waxwings in this same area, this same time of the year, year-in and year-out?
In mid-August, acorns were starting to appear on oak trees, with gray squirrels having a good time feasting on the nuts. Indian tobacco was in flower.
On August 24th, I found the forest very quiet and saw only an Eastern towhee, broadwing hawk, yellow-throated vireo, and a ruby-crowned kinglet.
Pickerel and green frogs were seen at Rocky Pond. On September 3rd, I measured the height and DBH (diameter breast height) of a second wild American Chestnut discovered in the park by Shelley and Nate. The tree was 68 ft. tall and had a DBH of 13.3 inches. The seeds found in the burs were all infertile, unfortunately.
In mid-Sept., the forest had become very quiet. Many migrants were gone, and I was seeing more and more of our winter year-round resident birds including blue jay, white-breasted nuthatch, and black-capped chickadee. Yellow-throated vireo was seen, one of the first migrating birds to return in spring, and one of the last to leave. Goldenrod and flat-topped wood aster in flower.
On the last day of summer, I noticed very few acorns on the forest floor compared to other years and attributed that to the fact that the oak trees of pine hill park were decimated by the spongy moths this year. Looks like a poor MAST season for sure. A few flowers were still in flower, including New England aster, a few other species of asters, and goldenrod. 3 does were seen together, along with pileated woodpeckers, northern flicker, tufted titmouse, and white-breasted nuthatch. At Muddy Pond could be found about 50 Canada geese, and a few wood ducks and mallards.
That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails, and enjoy the Wild Times of Pine Hill Park.
On Sunday, August 21 we opened the last new trail to be built in Pine Hill Park and we definitely saved the best for last. We celebrated with a little ribbon cutting, some refreshments, and a chance to say hello to long-time members as well as those just discovering the park.
Prior to the official snip of the ribbon long time Pine Hill Partnership leader and project coordinator Shelley Lutz shared a few thoughts:
“Thank you, Rutland Recreation, for having the trust in Pine Hill Partnership to build and maintain trails in the park. This started around 2003 with Cindi Wight and Michael Smith, who had a vision of the asset that Pine Hill Park could be for the city, then Ejay Bishop agreeing with this vision. Now it’s Kim Peters and Tyler Dahlin. The Rec Department’s trust has been instrumental in getting the park to where it is today. Thank you all.
Next round of big thank you’ s go to Tim Vile, who designed the bridges in the park, and more recently Nate Netsch, Leonard Bartenstein and Keith Wight who will still come down to help us out on major projects.
Pine Hill Partnership board of directors: Andy & Peggy Shinn, Joel Blumenthal, Claus Bartenstein, Lindsey Johnston, Nate Netsch, Dave Jenne.
A huge thank you to Josh Harris and Rosey for volunteering their time, energy and mini-excavator to build the jump line on Maximum Capacity. This started out as me casually mentioning to Josh one day there was a mini bowl area we discovered when Keith and I walked this trail 5 or 6 years ago. Josh immediately said I’ll donate my time and mini and get Rosey to help build a jump line. Thank you Josh and Rosey for all your time well spent.
VT Youth Conservation Corp has had a big hand in building trails in Pine Hill Park along with Rutland High School YES plan, Killington Mountain School and Youth Works. YES plan and KMS programs will be back in 2023 and Proctor High School will be doing an outdoor education class 2 days/week this fall learning how to maintain trails.
Claudia Sachs was a crew leader for our crew this past summer that built Maximum Capacity.
Funding for Maximum Capacity has been by contributions from folks who use the park. Plus a Recreational Trail Program grant that Nikki Adams a former Rec employee helped write. Thank you Kim Peters for letting Nikki assist in writing this grant. “
The work done by the VYCC crew was hard, dirty and wet a few days but luckily they did not lose any days to poor weather. Even the mosquitoes didn’t carry them away! The spongy moths were buggers the first week but even they slowed down thankfully.
Maximum Capacity is 2486′ long. When combined with Broken Handlebar, Jigsaw, Milk Run, Furlough and Exit Strategy it will be 12,215 (2.3 miles) foot long mostly downhill run.
Pine Hill Partnership applied for a Recreational Trail Program (RTP) grant which we received to pay for this 3 week crew. Thank you to Rutland Rec for their help in writing the grant and the maintenance crew for their support in mowing VYCC camping site and equipment we can borrow when needed.
Hope to see you in the park trying out Maximum Capacity soon!
We are hoping you can attend a virtual Pine Hill Partnership annual meeting on Monday, March 29th at 7pm via Go to Meeting.
We will have a short discussion to show our accomplishments for 2020 and plans for 2021. We will also be reviewing our 2020 and 2021 budgets and will elect a slate of officers and board members.
Only folks with current memberships will be eligible to vote, but anyone is welcome to attend the meeting. If you are unsure of your membership status, please contact Shelley at email@example.com or 775-4867 before 8pm.
Please RSVP by Friday, March 26th if you can attend. We will email you login instructions on the afternoon of the 29th.
We hope to see you there and send a big thank you for your support this year in our continued efforts to make these area trails so special.
Sincerely, Andrew Shinn, Joel Blumental, Dave Jenne, Claus Bartenstein, Peggy Shinn, Nate Netsch, Lindsey Johnston and Shelley Lutz—Board of Directors
Its always very gratifying when one of our visitors raves about the character of our hand-built trails — all done with a lot of volunteer time and sweat, we might add! It’s even better when they record and share it for other potential visitors too.
Niko Huber has done a great job creating a video guide to Pine Hill Park and its well worth your time to check it out. While you’re at it maybe hit his subscribe button. It looks like he’s planning to do more videos of other mountain biking venues soon!
Thanks for a great job Niko. We hope to see you back in the park soon !
As late as the first week of Oct., a few summer resident birds could still be found in the park, including yellow-bellied sapsuckers, Eastern phoebe, and wood ducks. Day temperatures could be considered generally cold. And an occasional garter snake could be seen slithering among the leaf litter. The forest seemed alive with chipmunks scurrying about searching for, and storing, their winter food supply of acorns and other available nuts and seeds.
By mid-October, the forest floor was covered in a thick layer of colorful leaves, a layer which would persist throughout the fall and winter months. Eastern newts could still be seen swimming in Rocky and Muddy ponds.
By the first week of November, the seasonal birds had left, the hundreds of migrating waterfowl had left both ponds, the forest had become very quiet, trees were bare of leaves for the most part, and both Rocky and Muddy ponds were still open water, with newts seen swimming along the shoreline.
At the end of the first week of November, a thin layer of ice had formed over a few small areas on the edges of the ponds. On a Nov. 9th walk, I saw only one crow, but plenty of gray squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about. On a Nov. 17th hike, I had noticed that most of the oak trees had finally dropped their last leaves, an inch of snow was on the ground, gray squirrels and chipmunks were continuing their collecting of food, both ponds were covered with about 2 inches of ice, and not a single bird was heard or seen.
Two days before Christmas, temperatures in the low 50s were recorded, causing a major snow melt, but both ponds were now covered with thick ice. On Dec. 28th, Dave and Shelley participated in the annual Audubon Christmas bird count, observing tufted titmouse, mallard, crow, red-tailed hawk, raven, black-caped chickadee, downy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, hairy woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, and Eastern bluebird.
On Jan. 12th, bluebirds were seen at a birdhouse near the park trailhead. Hopefully, they’ll be nesting in one of those houses in the spring. But because of the proximity to people, that very well may not happen. On this day I saw common resident bird species including downy, hairy, and pileated woodpeckers, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadees and dark-eyed juncos. Both ponds were covered in a few inches of water caused by recent heavy rains, and temperatures in the 60s! Snow was almost completely gone from the forest floor.
The third week of Jan. found the forest floor covered in about 4 inches of snow, with temperatures near single digits. Many places could be seen where white-tailed deer had been digging up the snow in search of acorns and other nuts.
The first week of Feb. found the lower trails forest floor still bare, but the higher trails all had about an inch of snow covering the ground. The forest was still relatively quiet, but I did observe gray squirrels mating. A RED squirrel, an only occasional sight, was seen in the hemlock forest near Muddy Pond, and tufted titmouse birds were singing, signs that spring was not far away.
By mid-Feb., about 6” of snow was on the ground, many animal tracks were seen throughout the forest including white-tailed deer, coyote, fox, squirrels and chipmunks, many squirrels were scurrying about, snow fleas were observed for the first time, and cardinals were singing.
On Feb. 23rd, while sitting on the edge of Rocky Pond, I could hear rumbles, moans, and groans coming from the pond as ice was moving and cracking underneath the snow covered surface. All streams and ponds frozen over.
March 8th was a gorgeous day. Squirrels and chipmunks could be seen active throughout the park, snow was gone on the lower trails with snow found only in protected, isolated areas throughout the upper trails, Rocky Pond had a few spots of open water, spiders were seen crawling about, and streams were starting to run.
By mid-March, snow was gone from most of the park with just a few patches of snow found only in small protected areas. Both Rocky and Muddy Ponds had some small open patches of water along the perimeter with Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks and hooded mergansers found there. Eastern newts were seen in large numbers along the shores in these open areas. Hairy woodpeckers were heard all throughout the park drumming.
All 50 American chestnut trees survived the winter, but 2 of the trees have small spots on their bark which show outer bark degradation. Whether this is the dreaded blight or not is too early to tell at this time according to a VT State Forester who looked at a picture of the spots I had taken for him to examine.
Shelley observed bluebirds leaving and entering one of the bird houses near the trailhead. We can only hope they decide to nest in one of the houses this spring.
That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails and enjoy your walks through the beautiful trails of Pine Hill Park.
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the Board of Directors voted today to cancel the 2020 Annual Meeting.
While we are very disappointed in not being able to see you all and tell you about our plans for next year, we are hoping to see you on the trails (at the appropriate social distance, of course) as we all enjoy what the Pine Hill trails have to give to help us to get through the challenging times ahead. For now, look to the web site and social media for updates and plans as we move ahead.
Thank you for your continued support of Pine Hill Partnership. Stay healthy and we’ll meet again soon.
Sincerely, Andrew Shinn, Joel Blumental, Dave Jenne, Claus Bartenstein, Peggy Shinn, and Shelley Lutz—Board of Directors
February 9, 2020 UPDATE: Nate N has been out a couple of days in a row grooming. He’s set some really great tracks for folks to enjoy. Please consider a donation to Tinman or Pine Hill Partnership to help defray the cost of operating the snowdog. If temps rise about freezing please stay off groomed trails as it really does make a mess of them. Thank you your hard working volunteers.
February 6, 2020 UPDATE: Trails were groomed Thursday 2/6 thanks to volunteer Nate N. We are hoping to groom again after this next batch of snow on Friday 2/7. The grooming map is below. Please leave a donation in Tinman to help defray the cost of running the Snowdog. Thanks your volunteers of Pine Hill Partnership.
January 20, 2020 UPDATE: More grooming has taken place thanks to Nate N. We are trying to lay a good base down for Cold Rolled Rutland fat bike festival on Sunday, February 2nd. Walkers, runners and fat bikes (4″ or wider tire please) if you like the groomed trails please consider making a contribution to the Snowdog fund using our donation page. https://pinehillpartnership.org/volunteer/
January 17, 2020 UPDATE: We have snow! Thanks to Nate F we have some groomed trails as of Thursday, January 16th. Are you enjoying the groomed trails for walking, running or riding your fat bike? Please consider giving Pine Hill Partnership a donation to help pay for the Snowdog. https://pinehillpartnership.org/membership/
January 11, 2020 UPDATE: Please no bikes of any kind, prefer foot traffic to stay on pedestrian only trails. It’s warm, wet and trails are extremely fragile today. Please wait before getting out into the park until a solid 24 hour freeze happens. The volunteers thank you.
A few folks enjoying the freshly groomed trails today December 19, 2019.
We are back to winter conditions. Trails received a light grooming Wednesday 12/18/19. Hopefully we continue to stay cold and get more snow. This is an all volunteer effort please consider making a contribution to Pine Hill Partnership to help pay for the Snowdog and the maintenance that goes with running machinery.
Well, we’re on hold now as all the snow is basically gone 12/10/19. Please do not ride if temps are above 25 degrees as it really can rut up some trails that have a western or southern exposure to the sun.
Mother Nature gave us a gift of a little more snow than we expected yesterday and this morning (Sat. Dec 7) we are out grooming.
Assuming there are no mechanical or other unforeseen issues, the trails marked on the map below should be groomed sometime on Saturday. If you happen to see Nate, our trail groomer in your travels, be sure to say “thank you”. It’s hard work.
Pine Hill Park is unlike many other mountain bike trails systems in North America, and visitors from in- and out-of-state travel to the park to experience our unique trails. This unique character includes hand-made single-track, berms, drainages, and playful bridges through the Park’s hardwoods and quartzite boulders and ridges. Since trail-building began in 2003, trail builders have worked to maintain this unique user experience. As of 2019, Pine Hill Park’s 325 acres are almost at capacity for trails. But anyone with ideas to improve sections of trail is welcome to make a plan, then present the plan for approval to the land owner and steward.
To that end, please take a look at our Trail Building Policy page for more information on how you can help to improve the park.