Snowdog is BACK!

Nate N has been out grooming in the park as of Monday, January 23rd. He will continue to groom as we appear to be getting a little more snow on-and-off over the next 10 days.

With Rutland Cold-Rolled just around the corner (February 12th) we are kindly asking people to treat our groomed trails with care. That means lowering your tire pressures so you’re not leaving ruts. Run 4″ or wider tires PLEASE! No regular mountain bike size tires pretty please!

Walkers, runners—please use snowshoes or X-C skis. Those little toe divots are not fun to ride on, and are very tough to groom out once the snow sets up. If you need snowshoes the Community Center has them to loan out.

This is a huge event that showcases Pine Hill Park to the mountain bike community in the northeastern US. We really could use everyone’s help in keeping our trails in tip-top shape!

(^-^)/ Thank you!

Fall Nature Report

Tom Estill’s Wild Times at Pine Hill Park is hot off the press! You never know what Tom will find in the woods.

Sorry to say, unlike other years, no burs were produced by the Svelte Tiger America Chestnut tree this year due to the Spongy Moth infestation. During my park walk on the last day of Sept., I saw my first loose association of white-breasted nuthatch, hairy woodpecker, tufted titmouse  and black-capped chickadee. Migrating yellow-rumped warblers, blue jay, northern flicker and a red-bellied woodpecker were also seen. Very surprised to see a Mourning Cloak butterfly flying about. Those butterflies will spend the winter under loose bark or other places providing protection from predators and the elements, then emerge in early spring as one of the earliest animals to do so.

Autumn Chickadee | photo by David Jenne

Oct. 8th found the forest to be very quiet. The forest was at, or very near, to the height of the fall foliage season. At Muddy Pond could be found hundreds of migrating Canada geese along with a hooded merganser. The only birds I saw on my walk to and from Muddy Pond were a hairy woodpecker and migrating pine warbler. The pine warbler seems to be one of the earliest birds to arrive from the south in the spring, and one of the last to leave in the fall. A few plants were still flowering including the blue aster, wild chamomile, and white aster.

In Mid-October I was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time. While sitting at Rocky Pond I saw two merlins chasing one another. I had never seen a merlin at Rocky Pond before. The last time I saw one was over a decade ago, perched on a tree along the shore of the Patuxent River in Maryland. Otherwise the forest was very quiet. Numerous Canada geese were still resting at Muddy Pond, but mallards and green-winged teals were also seen. In the forest could be found a broadwinged hawk, white-breasted nuthatch, a small flock of dark-eyed juncos, red-tailed hawk, hairy woodpecker, and turkey vultures flying overhead.

The first week of November found temperatures in the low 70s, with about 50 Canada geese seen at Muddy Pond, and only a single white-breasted nuthatch.

One Nov. 11th, Muddy Pond was starting to ice over around its perimeter in a few places along the shore. Rocky Pond showed no signs of ice. Birds seen included a pileated woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, and crows.

By the first week of December, both ponds were free of any ice, and there was no snow on the ground. Hundreds of Canadian geese and a pair of Common Mergansers were seen at Muddy Pond. Gray squirrels were running about in high numbers. 3 does were seen near Trail Marker #24, and flying about the trees was a loose association of black-capped chickadees, hairy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, crows overhead.

By December 10th, both ponds were showing signs of ice along a few places of their shorelines. Still no snow on the ground. In the trees you could find a red-bellied woodpecker, black-capped chickadees, hairy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch and tufted titmouse.

Pond Ice | photo by David Jenne

By mid-December, both ponds were finally frozen over. Loose associations of forest birds were now seen almost on a regular basis. The loose association of birds provide extra protection for the birds, and improves their chances of seeing predatory birds nearby.

That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails while you enjoy observing the wildlife of Pine Hill Park.

Rutland Cold Rolled Returns

Welcome Fatbikers 

The creative minds behind Überwintern and Winterbike are at it again! Mountain Bike Vermont has partnered with Pine Hill Partnership in Rutland, Vermont to offer a day of fatbike stoke on cold-rolled single-track this Super Bowl Sunday! Join us Sunday February 12th, 2023 as fatbikers from around New England and New York gather in Rutland to lead a charge with Old Man Winter, replete with group rides, demos, and hearty brews around warm fires. 

The event will feature a vendor village, rides for all ages and abilities, and groomed packed powder trails for your fatbiking pleasure. Group rides will begin at 10am at the Giorgetti Athletic Complex at 2 Oak Street Extension (the Pine Hill Trailhead) where we’ll also convene for lunch at 12:00 pm. The remote aid station (aka party central) will be located at the overlook and will feature a bonfire and our favorite mid-ride refreshers. Lunch at Giorgetti will be catered by our friends at Ranch Camp (Stowe, VT).

“We’re beyond excited to bring the Cold Rolled back to Pine Hill Park – this trail network has some of the best fatbiking in the state, and the community rallies to maintain them all winter.” says event cofounder & Killington Valley local Nate Freund of MTBVT. “We’re stoked to bring the party to Rutland and introduce riders from around the northeast to these amazing trails!”  

The $50 ticket price ($35 for the under 21 crowd) includes group rides, lunch (with both carnivorous and veggie options), and a signed original Cold Roll Rutland artist print. So air down those tires, break out the extra layers, and get ready to party MTBVT style. 

Tickets are purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rutland-cold-rolled-2023-registration-471385365317

SCHEDULE:

Vendor setup 8:00 to 9:00

Registration / Expo area opens 9:00

Group Rides 

Advanced ride departs 9:45 

Intermediate ride departs 10:00  

Beginner ride departs 10:15

Remote Aid Station opens 11:00 to 2:00

Lunch 12:00 to 2:00

Event ends 3:00

Advanced Ride – This ride’s duration is up to 3ish hours. The pace is for avid riders that enjoy covering ground at a steady pace. You can expect up to 12ish miles of riding over variable terrain.

Intermediate – These rides are for most folks looking to have a good time, stop at the fire for a bit, and be guided around PHP. this ride will be three hours in duration with opportunities to bail out or put in a few extra miles.

Beginner ride – Beginner rides take folks on the easier terrain and no experience is necessary. This ride will bring participants to the remote aid station and back to base.  

About Mountain Bike Vermont

Mountain Bike Vermont (MTBVT.com) is an online journal, events promoter, apparel company, and rolling party instigator. MTBVT’s dual initiative is documenting and promoting the Green Mountain State’s incomparable cycling community. Visit MTBVT.com for info on our annual event series, shop our online store, and peruse new and archived articles. #MTBVT 

Have questions? Want to become a vendor? Contact john@mtbvt.com

Trail Work

KSA Built is in the park doing trail remediation work thanks to the Enhanced Recreation and Stewardship Grant that Rutland Recreation received.

We are super jazzed about how the trails that cross the upper power line are coming out. Arthur’s Chair(Upper Jersey) has had a tune-up. Strong Angel and Upper Jersey Turnpike have had a lot of work on them and will stayed closed until ground is freezes solid. Watkins Wood Rd spring area received a culvert to hopefully eliminate that spring mud hole.

Underdog, Salamander, upper Droopy Muffin, PA4J and Casey’s Cross all have been repaired. Where these trails cross the power lines and it’s sunny and warm(above 25 degrees) please stay off those sections of trails. The dirt has a lot of moisture in it being recently disturbed and will rut extremely easy. We would appreciate it if folks just be aware of tire and foot traffic leaving ruts in the dirt. We do not need to readdress these in the spring.

PLEASE DO NOT BE THIS PERSON

The work KSA Built is doing is fantastic with more refinements to come early next year. Broken Handlebar North, Halfpipe, Exit Strategy and Escalator will all get tuned up.

A few before and after pictures.

Park Updates

KSA Built is starting Thursday, October 27th in the park. Rosey will be working as late into late fall that weather permits. Some trails may be closed off as they are being upgraded. Please do not ride, walk, or run if you see a trail closed sign on that trail.

Broken Handlebar North and all of Halfpipe will see major improvements. Other smaller sections of trails will have drainage’s improved so water stops running straight down the trail tread. These improvements are part of the ERSA Grant Rutland Recreation received. Pine Hill Partnership is helping defray the higher cost of diesel some of our trails can see the upgrade they need. If you would like to make a donation directly to our trail fund please do so here https://pinehillpartnership.org/membership/ All contributions go back directly into Pine Hill Park trail system.

VYCC (VT Youth Conservation Corp) will be in the summer of 2023 to do more trail remediation work.

Our trails are being used heavily and need much needed TLC so please bear with this while the work is being performed.

Trail Closure

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.

Thank you.

Wild times in pine hill park – SUMMER ’22

By Tom Estill

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.

A male Indigo Bunting where Pond Rd. crosses the powerline. Photo by David Jenne

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.

An Eastern Towee with its stunning red eyes. Photo by David Jenne

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.

Deptford Pink grows under the powerlines on the Carriage Trail every summer. Pixabay image

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.

It could be a rough winter for chipmunks and squirrels this year due to a poor mast crop this summer. Photo by David Jenne

That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails, and enjoy the Wild Times of Pine Hill Park.

Maximum Capacity, It’s Grand and It’s OPEN!

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.

Cutting the Ribbon — Grand opening celebration of Maximum Capacity trail at Pine Hill Park August 21, 2022

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. 

Josh Harris (left) and Rosey sample the jump line they volunteered their time and a mini-excavator to build on Maximum Capacity.

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. 

Josh and Rosey Playing on the jump line. Video by Claus Bartenstein
Riders take a tour of the jump line on the freshly-opened Maximum Capacity trail. Video by Claus Bartenstein

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!

Maximum Capacity

July 20th Update: Maximum Capacity is complete and still closed. VYCC crew #5 did a great job in building this trail. They came in not knowing what they were getting into fully and came out seasoned trail builders understanding how to build a complete trail from scratch.

We will have a grand opening for this trail. We’re just not sure when. Stay tuned to social media and our webpage for updates.

The crew built 5 huge banked corners, two French drains under two of our banked corners. We built rock ride overs to protect tree roots or help to raise the trail tread in low places. Moved TONS of rocks literally. We taught them finish work how to build rolling grade dips complete with out-slope or in-slope a trail for drainage.

This rock weighed probably 800-1000 lbs. We dug it out and replaced it into a banked corner.

The crew members are from all over the US, college students needing a summer job.

The work was hard, dirty and wet a few days but luckily we did not lose any days to poor weather. Even the mosquitoes didn’t carry us away. The spongy moths were buggers the first week in the caterpillar stage 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.

June 27th Update: VYCC has been here for one week and will be here until July 8th working on Maximum Capacity and hopefully Bone Spur. They are camping at the Community Center feeding all the mosquitoes.

Anyone who likes to make cookies or brownies VYCC would be grateful recipients.

The trail is CLOSED until it is completed and the trail tread has time to set up.

Folks have been hearing about Maximum Capacity for over a year now. The trail is coming to life with Killington Mountain School back in May and currently with YES Plan (Rutland High School students) in early June. The students have done a great job in removing organic material. We will continue to work on this trail with YES Plan and VT Youth Conservation Corp to hopefully have it open by the end of July. The trail is approximately 2500′ long.

If you have flexible hours and would like to help with finish work let us know. This is where we do all the raking to create a sustainable trail tread. Send pinehillpartnership@gmail.com an email for more details. We do have a lot of trail broken open that needs finish work so many hands make light work.

Park is OPEN

Saturday, June 4th: Jigsaw is now open.

Sunday, May 21st: Park is open today with Jigsaw being closed and roped off. There are still some tender places in the park so be gentle riding please. Thank you.

6PM UPDATE: Friday, May 20th. Park will remained closed for Saturday. We will reassess later Saturday afternoon to see if trails have dried up to open for Sunday. We still have standing water on a lot of trails. Please stay off the trails it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Volunteers will be checking the trails late Friday (5/20) afternoon to see if they have dried up. We had another .2″ of rain on Thursday evening. We are hoping the trees leafing out and a little bit of wind this afternoon things will dry out for the weekend. Stay tuned. Thank you.

We have had to temporarily close the park due to the amount of rain last Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. We have standing water on a lot of our trails. The water needs to drain out before we reopen for all users.

Thank you for respecting our temporary trail closures.

Water on Strong Angel, Jigsaw and Sore Elbow, Tuesday, May 17th.

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