Update: April 24th: Trails are open for mountain bikes. We still have a few closed trails and those are clearly marked. Please do not ride the closed trails in the park, Carriage Trail or the Redfield trails as they are still drying out. Thank you.
Update April 22nd: Fat bikes only please. 4″ or wider tires. The banked turns are still very tender. The question we’re hearing is trails seem fine. The trail tread is fine but the banked corners are still sloughing off a little bit. If you hit those fragile corners with a bike tire you will do damage to the corner and means more work for the volunteers to repair. We have some warmer weather coming next week so hopefully the banked corners will finally set up. Thank you.
Update: April 17th: Fat bikes ONLY with 4″ or wider tires. Are bermed corners are still very tender. Please no regular mountain bikes at this time. It would be greatly appreciated by our volunteers.
Update:April 13th: Our trails are slowly drying out. They are in a pretty fragile state right now and we will keep them closed until the dirt firms up a little bit more. PLEASE do not be tempted to ride our trails as you might think they’re dry enough to ride but in reality they really are not. We have some freeze/thaw cycles coming up with some rain which will cause problems with the trail tread. Please respect our hard earned volunteer hours by staying off your bikes in the park. If you really need exercise we would be glad to give you a rake and clean out water drainage’s from last years leaves that have collected in them.
You may notice a distinct aroma of hay when you travel through certain sections of the park. That’s Hay Scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula) you’re smelling.
This patch is where Upper Giorgetti and Trillium intersect (Jct. 6), but my favorite spot is where Strong Angel travels under the powerline. I love to cruise downhill through that stretch in the early morning—it feels like descending on a cloud of green fluff!
Here’s a link to a good guide to start you on identifying other ferns in the park if you’re interested.
I made a trip yesterday to Muddy Pond via the Park and Carriage Trail in search of some interesting photos. What a day! If you are interested in wildlife watching, stop and watch for a while at either Rocky Pond or Muddy Pond as you cross the power line on the Carriage Trail. There are some amazing critters there! Here’s a little summary of my morning (click on the images for a larger version):
I arrived at my location and was set up by 7 am (about an hour later than I wanted, but shlepping my 60+ lbs of gear up Pond Road was a good workout!) I no sooner got myself concealed and sat than the bird I had most wanted to see came to me right over the pond and carrying a large stick.
It’s possibly a young Osprey just starting to learn the skills of nest building… what he was building yesterday is best termed avant-garde sculpture!
After a couple attempts at sculpture, the Osprey glided over to the opposite side of the pond and sat in a tree for two straight hours presumably waiting for breakfast to swim under his perch.
Once my heartbeat slowed to a pace to where I could concentrate again I noticed that I had set up my blind about 10 feet away from a little dead tree snag that was being used by a Song Sparrow to announce his territory.
After an hour or two I discovered that this wasn’t just a territory, it was already home for a family. His mate soon dropped by with some breakfast for the nestlings which I couldn’t see from my location.
I had heard and suspected there would be some ducks with chicks at the pond and wasn’t disappointed. The first bird to swim past me was a female Hooded Merganser. There weren’t any chicks in sight, but maybe they’re still in the nest. I’ll be checking back in a week or two so maybe we’ll see some then.
To the left of my location was another larger (30ft or so tall) dead tree. I hadn’t pointed my camera in that direction because the light was bad from that angle, but true to form, about every species of bird at the pond decided that THAT was the place to hang out! One of them was this Northern Flicker that stayed just long enough for me to get off 4 frames… and then it “Flicked” off across the pond.
Muddy Pond is home to at least 2 broods of Wood Ducks. I counted one group with 8 ducklings and another with 5. Its always amazing to me how fast young birds can grow. Some of these guys are already looking pretty big, so probably will be just about ready to fly by the next time I see them.
I came to the pond intending to get some photos of some of the beavers there, but there was no sign of them… although they left plenty of evidence of their presence. Be careful around the pond— especially on a windy day. Some of them are really large trees that are about ready to go!
We had great Annual meeting on Monday, March 28th. A group of 30+ members heard first hand about some of our plans for 2016, but more importantly a discussion session led to lots of great ideas. Hopefully we can move forward with some of the great suggestions and enthusiasm that was present in the room!
This year, the board tried a different approach with the meeting. Keith Wight gave a quick presentation of last year’s accomplishments:
Volunteer Days and Hours: 2015 Volunteer Days 57 days
2015 Volunteer Hours 2390 hours
Groups providing volunteer hours: Community Work Days, Fair Haven Girls on the Run, Youth Mountain Bike Group; RHS Cross Country Team; RHS YES Plan-6 Days; Youth Works-13 days; PHP individuals
The meeting then moved on to an open discussion of 2016 plans.
Upcoming programs in 2016:
Women’s Mountain Bike Clinic
Youth Mountain Bike Group
Intermediate/Advanced Mountain Bike Clinic(new this year)
Summer Sunset 5K Race
Droopy Pedal Mountain Bike Race
Senior Olympics Mountain Bike Race
10K Leaf Chase
Nature Hikes with Tom Estill
Little Bellas Mountain bike camp for girls
Full Moon 5K race
Expand Redfield Trails
Broken Handlebar Extension
New Pine Hill Park map
Potential RRMC trail project
Maintain and expand membership
Coasters with logos
The current PHP board has been working on redefining the goals for the organization and President Andy Shinn shared some of their thoughts. The board reached out to those present and to the overall membership for help in steering the group forward. In addition to the usual annual tasks like trail maintenance, the board is hoping to recruit folks to help with some new projects.
The partnership has developed a new logo and designs for coasters, t-shirts and plans to produce tyvek maps for next year. Much of the discussion centered around how we could increase awareness and enthusiasm for the work we do, and how we could translate that enthusiasm into more paid memberships and volunteers to help the board accomplish our goals.
Discussion Topics and Ideas:
Ask if member? Do you want to be a member? At activities have a table or something to sign people up.
Set up a membership table at the trail head on busy weekends
Maps – good idea to make some money – Thanks to private landowners with permission
Get coasters to local pubs and restaurants
59 paid members this year; where do we want to be next year? Membership drive?
Get list from Cindi of 600+ emails to get them to sign up for Pine Hill Partnership.
Think about Lower membership cost to increase numbers
“Trails brought to you by Pine Hill Partnership” signs in park
Does everyone know that Pine Hill Partnership exists? Most people think it is the City, but do not realize that Pine Hill Partnership actually maintains the park, Carriage and Redfield Trails
Start promoting activities on Front porch forum – City, Rutland Town…
Business card or similar item to hand out to visitors with Pine Hill Partnership info (hand out coasters?)
Web site eventually will become pinehillpartnership.org – phasing out pinehillpark.org
We need more social media presence – Instagram, Facebook, Front Porch Forum
Partner with a store similar to EMS to bind together to provide discount to someone who pays a membership; example, Alpine Bike Shop
Might need membership card ?
List of local discounts available to members with a card (similar to Perk card)
Trails are all the same and some users want a variation on trails – more difficult terrain. Make Broken Handlebar Extension be something more than just a roller. Optional routes giving the chance to take a more technical or rocky trail. Something different. Broaden the trail system.
Raise ridership through the broadening of the trail system
Mailing list on maintenance? People find out a week after the items happen.
Post a list of tasks that need to be done; bring you own tools; Pick up and sign out tools somewhere
Expectations for volunteer efforts, duties, time span – clear expectations will make people more likely to step up
How things are presented is important – make it fun or at least sound fun; add something like a barbecue or ride or similar. Need someone to organize B-B-Que for a work day.
Evening work times? Get more people for a shorter time. Need someone to step up and lead these groups.
Put it out that we need X many people, leader, etc.
Trail building 101? Teach some leaders how to do trail maintenance and lead a group.
Short videos of how to clean a drainage ditch (or similar)
Make the park more inviting – more important things that reporting dogs in park; make it fun and exciting
Need help for what? Need more members, more people involved, not just trail work, but membership drive, marketing, social director
Why are the trails closed? Educate as to why the trails are closed because people may not understand this especially given the mild winter.
After the discussion the final piece of business was to elect next year’s board of directors. Our board of directors for 2016 are: Joel Blumenthal, Andy Shinn, Keith Wight, Shelley Lutz, Claus Bartenstein, and Dave Jenne.
If you would like to help the board with any of our upcoming projects, or have some new ideas of your own, let us know about them! Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch soon.
If you shop online and use Amazon please consider using www.smile.amazon.com. Amazon will make quarterly contributions to Pine Hill Partnership if you enter us as the non-profit.
Big thanks for your support this year in our continued efforts to make these area trails so special.
Keith Wight, Andrew Shinn, Joel Blumenthal, Dave Jenne, Claus Bartenstein, and Shelley Lutz