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.

KMS Students

Thank you to Killington Mountain School for a solid morning of removing organic material on Maximum Capacity. The students, coaches and administrators broke open about 900 feet of trail in 2 hours. This is 900 feet less than the VT Youth Conservation Corp will have to do in late June. Thank you KMS!

Rutland High School YES Plan is back in early June. We will continue to work on Maximum Capacity.

It is fantastic to have these work groups back in the park.

Help the Park, Enter Our Survey

Pine Hill Park needs your help!

Pine Hill Park is conducting an Economic Development & Marketing Research Survey to better understand the actions and habits of our visitors and park members. We hope to learn more about the activities and opportunities that attract individuals to visit Pine Hill Park, financial patterns associated with visits, as well as how to better reach our visitors and park members.

This survey will take between 5-10 minutes to complete. Please take your time and answer each question as accurately as possible.

Please limit one response per household.

Thank You!

https://forms.gle/oo96j8xCSoPTPavP6

Community Work Day

We will be holding a community work day Saturday, April 30th from 9-12pm. Meet at the front entrance of Pine Hill Park.

We have lots of small projects we would like to tackle, which include helping the Master Gardener’s in the front entrance, to hiking the trails with tools to clean out drainage’s.

Trails are OPEN to all

UPDATE: May 3: Steep hill on Droopy Muffin and Lichen Rock are now open. Exit Strategy and Voldemort are still closed.

UPDATE: April 13: Trails are open for pedestrians and bikes. Lichen Rock, steep hill on Droopy and Exit Strategy are closed. Power company is doing work on a the power-line up by the Crusher. Please be aware of large vehicles on the Pond Rd.

UPDATE: April 11th: Trails are open for pedestrians only. We finished the new boardwalk this past weekend. Bikes you’ll have to be patient a little bit longer. Thank you.

Update: April 1st.

Trails are now closed to all users. Trails are in the process of thaw/freeze cycles and are very susceptible to trail damage. All our volunteers would greatly appreciate it if folks could hold off on riding and walking.

The park is closed to pedestrians this year also. We are hoping to open soon for pedestrians but trails need to dry out more.

NEMBA has a really great explanation on why we need to give trails a break in the spring.

https://www.nemba.org/news/just-say-no-mud?fbclid=IwAR3wy353beE_NJK70Cgq3AmkB-hIGg0m0YCLRg_qdNqQQu1be5RAtkexvkM

Please stay tuned.

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