Category Archives: Hikes

winter report of wild times in Pine hill park

Wild Times at Pine Hill Park Winter 2018/2019 Summary

One week after the official start of winter in 2018, three of us participated in the annual National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count. We saw dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, brown creepers, crows, ravens, and a red-bellied woodpecker. Those were animals we were expecting to see. What we didn’t expect to see was a Green Frog swimming along the shore of Rocky Pond, in a very small area where the pond had not frozen over.

The frog looked emaciated and was swimming weakly. My guess was that it was hibernating in the mud at the bottom edge of the pond, but a recent warm up in weather had thawed the area and freed the frog from its frozen cell. Squirrels could still be seen scurrying about the forest on Dec. 29th. Small streams were flowing throughout the park.

By the final day of December, the forest had become very quiet and the only birds I saw on my 3 hr. hike that day were a hairy woodpecker and a black-capped chickadee.

Jan. 2nd found the forest floor bare and temperatures in the low 20’s. Both ponds were completely frozen over. At both ponds, cracks, booms, bangs, and sloshing could be heard as the water underneath the ice was moving here and there.

By Jan. 5th, a light dusting of snow could finally be found covering the forest ground. Temperatures were in the low 30s and small park streams were gently flowing. Thick ice covered both ponds. Birds seen included Hairy and Pileated woodpeckers, tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, and white-breasted nuthatch.

On Jan. 19th, a few inches of snow now covered the lower trails, while upper trails had 6 inches or more. Very quiet in the forest, with a major snow storm to reach the park the next day.


Single digit temperatures on this day, also. Saw only hairy and pileated woodpeckers and crows. Lots of deer, squirrel, and predator(fox and coyote, mostly) tracks seen in the snow. Many spots could be seen where deer were digging through the snow to get to their ground food.

One week later, temperatures were in the teens, and snow was averaging about a foot in depth. Birds seen included crow, hairy and pileated woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatch. I was very surprised to hear mourning doves “cooing” near Rocky Pond, so early in the season. Snow fleas could be seen for the first time at the base of some trees. Many gray squirrels were seen, along with their dug-up food caches. Many deer and fox tracks also seen.

The first week of Feb., sound snow depth averaging about 1 ft. A new HUGE pileated woodpecker hole could be seen high up in an oak tree half way up the Upper Giorgetti Trail.Just looking for the carpenter ants they so relish. Saw crows and a hairy woodpecker, and watched a barred owl perched high in an oak tree, then was amazed to see it “spit up” a pellet. I collected the pellet, took it home and dissected it, finding the bones of 4 small mice in the pellet. Made me wonder, how a barred owl can hear mice scurrying about under at least 1 ft. of snow. Their hearing truly is as amazing as ornithologists say it is.

Feb. 16th found many of the trails covered in ice. Had to use my boot ice straps to safely get about. Sunny day, but temps. in the low 30s. Hairy and pileated woodpeckers, crows, and white-breasted nuthatches seen. Beavers very active at the 3 dams at the Rocky Pond outlet. Both ponds frozen over, but Rocky Pond outlet stream was flowing surprisingly high. Lots of deer and squirrel tracks.

The first week of March found temperatures in the low 30s, and snow depth averaging 6 inches. Black-capped chickadees, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, crow, and hairy woodpecker all seen. Barred owl seen near the top of Upper Giorgetti trail. Gray squirrels seen throughout park, and Rocky Pond completely frozen over and covered in snow.

March 9th was a beautiful day, with the park covered in a few inches of snow, with the exception of a few south facing slopes which showed bare ground. Many gray squirrels seen throughout park and both ponds completely covered in ice and snow. Tufted titmouse singing, and crows, white-breasted nuthatch and black-capped chickadees flying about. Lots of deer, predator, rodent and squirrel tracks seen. Bobcat tracks on Ridge Runner trail. Park streams frozen over. And a Wooly Bear was photographed by Lauren White sitting on the snow at Rocky Pond.

By March 17th, temperatures had been reaching into the low 60s, and most of the snow on the lower Giorgetti trails had disappeared, with only a few patches of snow. Upper regions of the park were covered in a few inches of snow, with patches of bare ground found here and there. Crow, hairy woodpecker and tufted titmouse were the only birds seen.

That’s it for this issue. Enjoy your time at Pine Hill Park, and please remember to stay on the trails.



Community Work Days

2019 Community Work day is coming up! Saturday, April 27th at 9AM. Meet at the front entrance. We will have tools, gloves, bring water and sun screen.

Our projects will be to pretty up the front entrance, repair Exit Strategy which is a huge project this spring. We will not be able to open Exit Strategy until the banked corners have been repaired. We will be bringing in material to help shore the corners up that got beat up badly last year with the heavy rain. Please come join us for a couple of hours.

Yes Plan dates are being set by Rutland High School teachers now. Yes plan runs from May 31st until June 14th. Please contact us if you have folks who would like to join us. pinehillpartnership@gmail.com

Youth Works is back for the 12th year. They will be in the park working on Monday’s and Tuesday’s, from 9:30-2:30 starting June 17-18 and through to July 29-30. Meet at the front entrance. Anyone who needs community service hours is welcome to join us.

Please no bikes

Update April 13th: Please no bikes. We have a lot of rain coming Sunday/Monday that will keep trails particularly corners too damp to ride. Please be patient. Thank you.

Update April 11th: Please no bikes in the park. We are in the midst of our freeze/thaw cycles that raise havoc on the trails. Trails are drying out nicely but are still tender so please be kind and stay off with bikes. Thanks.

The tire ruts from bikes will let the water run down the rut, and that then washes away all our hard earned dirt. Dirt in the park is hard to come by. See this for more info! It’s all moved to the trail by volunteers using buckets and shovels.

Our first community work day is Saturday, April 27th, 9AM. Meet at the front entrance. We will provide gloves and tools.

There is no paid trail staff, there is no mini-excavator working to move dirt. Please do not ruin it for everyone else.

Thank you Community Bank

Community Bank gave us a very nice contribution this spring. We used it to purchase materials to build two benches for the park. Thank you to Augie Levins who built the benches and to all the other volunteers that helped move them.

One is located on Underdog powerline and the other one is on Droopy Muffin powerline. We have several other locations we would like to install the same type bench in the future.

Trails are Open

Update: 5/2/18: Green Mountain Power did a great job in repairing the corner on Underdog they had to drive over to replace a power pole. A little caution advised as dirt is soft in the banked corner.

Update: 5/1/18: Caution on Underdog today May 1st. Green Mountain Power is installing a new power pole and will be in the park.  Come to the community work day on May 12th to help repair the corner on Underdog they will drive over.

Update: 4/26/18: Trails are open today. Remember our community work day on Saturday 4/28 at 9AM, meet at the front entrance.

Update: 4/24/18: Please no bikes. We are waiting for the rain event to pass by then we will reevaluate the trails. This rut was left by an inconsiderate rider a week ago. The rut will collect water then the dirt will slough down the hill and the banked corner slowly erodes. This in turns means more work for volunteers.

Update: 4/22/18: Please no bikes. Trails are still soft. If we have a few more sunny days like yesterday trails will dry quickly. Please be patient. Thank you.

Update: 4/20/18: It  is going to be a stunning spring weekend and we know everyone wants to ride their bikes. Our trails are still too soft to allow bikes. Please be kind and refrain from riding any type of bike. The volunteers would really appreciate it.  We had snow again last night so trails are not drying out fast. Weather forecast looks promising for a few sunny days that hopefully will dry the trails out. We recognize  some of you ‘think’ the trails are ok to ride or you’ll walk around the soft spots. Well you know those banked corners you love to rail well they are super fragile right now. Thanks again by not riding.

Update: 4/18/18: Trails are still closed to all bikes.  The trails are still extremely fragile. Bike tires create ruts that water follows and creates erosion and means more work for the volunteers. Please be considerate and do not ride. We have some nice weather coming up and hopefully trails will dry out quickly. BE PATIENT! The message is the same through out the state with trails being too soft for bikes. Thank you.

Update: 4/16/18:Trails are still closed to all bikes. We have had freezing rain and sleet that covered the ground again. This needs to melt and we need some sun to dry everything out. We’ve had very high wind today so we expect a lot of blow downs. Please send an email to pinehillpartnership@gmail.com with the location of any trees you see down. The more specific on which trail and closer to which intersection would be greatly beneficial for us. Thanks.

Update: 4/14/18: Trails are still extremely fragile. PLEASE NO BIKES at this time. We are monitoring the trails daily. Thank you for not riding at this time. If you are looking for exercise you could help us out by cleaning out drainage’s.

Update: 4/13/18: PLEASE BE PATIENT! NO BIKES PLEASE. Our weather report for the weekend is not exactly conducive for drying our trails out.

Update: 4/6/18: PLEASE NO BIKES! The ground is not fully un-thawed. We have more snow on the ground now that earlier today. Trails are going to take a while to completely un-thaw and firm up. Please be patient to ride your bike. Go for a hike and clean drainage’s out or pick up all the small sticks that came down in the wind the other night. Volunteers do all the work in the park, please be kind to them by staying off the trails.

Update: 4/2/18:Please NO bikes. We still have some snow, frost on and in the ground. Until that is gone no bikes please. Looking at weather report that could be a couple of weeks. If you want some exercise take a hike and help clean out some drainage’s or pick up all the small sticks that came down in the wind the other night. That would really help especially with the rain in the forecast.  A volunteer over the weekend did some serious cleaning on the drainage in the pic above.

 

Update: 4/1/18: Please NO skinny tires. Fat bikes are ok if it’s well below 28 degrees and NO SUN! Please, please, please be smart on riding your bike. Everyone in the state is in the same boat with freeze/thaw cycles. Trails are extremely fragile!

Update: 3/28/18: Trails are a mixed bag of frozen snow (if below freezing) and open areas that receive sun. We ask all bikes not to ride if temps are above 28, especially if the sun is out. Thanks. Sounds like early April we could have more winter like conditions.

Update: 3/12/18: Trails are primarily snow covered and will have another fresh coating of snow today/tomorrow. Rutland is in the 5-8″ range.

Update: 2/27/18: Trails are extremely tender with the freeze/thaw cycles are are experiencing. Please NO bikes of any kind when sun is out and temps are above 28 degrees.  Hikers please walk though the mud and not around as it widens the trail.  Voldemort is closed till late spring.

Update: 2/23/18: Major melt mid-week left us with mud, dirt, ice, slush, snow. Please NO bikes if temps are above 28 as the trails are starting to unthaw where the sun hits them all day. Please be kind to our trail system.

Update: 2/18: We had TONS of snow in early February. Skiing, snowshoeing was awesome. Now we’ve had a week of warm. About  4″ of snow 2/17- on top of firm but not super icy crust. We have had rain and warm last week so condense snow pack.

Point being conditions are all over the place for the next week to 10 days. Long range weather is saying early March could bring us a stormy pattern. We will see. It’s Vermont, wait a day if you don’t like the weather.

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Fat biking is ok, studs highly recommended as of January 29, 2018. There is a lot of ice, hard packed snow, frozen dirt.  If you’re hiking micro spikes really recommended and sprayed with silicone of PAM spray to keep the snow from sticking to them.