Come join MTBVT and us for a pretty exciting fat bike event. Sunday, February 2nd, 9-4pm. Great rides on groomed trails, food and beverages will be served. Tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rutland-cold-rolled-registration-86801177659
Wild Times at Pine Hill Park by Tom Estill
Summer, 2019 Summary
Wild Times At Pine Hill Park
Summer, 2019 Summary
The first day of summer turned out to be a gorgeous day this year. Many birds could be found in the park including, American redstart, hairy woodpecker, black and white warbler, red-eyed vireo, hermit thrush, robin, ovenbird, immature yellow-bellied sapsucker, and great-crested flycatcher. Gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunks were a common sight.
A week later, on June 27th, I spent the day at the park clearing weeds from around the base of the 50 American chestnut trees, cutting down encroaching saplings, and spraying the leaves of the chestnuts with deer repellent. All the 50 trees are doing well, with one of them now over 10 feet tall! The big question now is, will one or more of them FLOWER next spring? Birds seen on this day included robins, scarlet tanager, hermit thrush, veery, ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, American redstart, chestnut-sided warbler, and black and white warbler. A few years ago, I would hear only one scarlet tanager singing in one place in the park, but this year, scarlet tanagers were singing on Crusher Rd., lower, middle, and upper Giorgetti trails, Carriage trail, and near Rocky Pond.
On July 2nd, the chestnut trees were watered as they always are after a dry spell. A red admiral butterfly, a not uncommon butterfly, was seen flying about. Many species of butterflies inhabit Pine Hill Park. I was particularly happy to hear from many park visitors that they had been observing more monarch butterflies in the park this season than they had in the past. Each year, local school students plant more and more milkweed in the forest in an attempt to increase the dwindling numbers of Monarch butterflies. Milkweed seeds are collected in the fall, refrigerated until spring, grown in the classroom, and then planted near Rocky Pond. The Rocky Pond milkweed population is an official Monarch Waystation. Also on this day, a young yellow-bellied sapsucker could be heard calling from its nest near Intersection 12. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers have successfully nested in that same tree, but different holes, for the last 4 years. Birds seen that day included cardinal, tufted titmouse, wood thrush, hermit thrush, scarlet tanager, great blue heron, red-eyed vireo, yellow-throated vireo, American redstart, and myrtle warbler.
On July 8th, an adult osprey was seen sitting on its nest at Muddy Pond, and an Eastern Peewee could be heard nearby. We all wondered if the adult was brooding eggs.
On July 21, an Eastern garter snake and tiny American toad toadlet were both seen on Crusher Road near the old quarry. And on July 23rd, I noticed that the forest was suddenly getting much quieter than it had been in the recent past. Also on this day I saw monarch, painted lady and great spangled fritillary butterflies flying about.
By the last week of July, the blueberries had ripened, and there were areas where the ground was covered in blueberries. Fawns could be seen walking about with their mothers, and other adults could be seen walking about by themselves looking for those blackberries and blueberries to feed upon, no doubt.
On the last day of July I took a walk through the VERY QUIET forest and saw American goldfinch, robins, red-eyed vireos, hermit thrush, crows, and great blue heron and one osprey at Muddy Pond.
The first week of August found a very quiet forest, a kingfisher at Rocky Pond, cedar waxwings nesting in pitch pine trees at the south side of Rocky Pond, and button bushes flowering along the shore of that pond. Button bush seeds are collected each fall by local school children, refrigerated during the winter, then planted in the spring along the shores of Rocky Pond in an attempt to attract more waterfowl to that pond. The seeds are eaten by waterfowl. This time of year you can still see red-eyed vireos, Eastern pewees, American goldfinch, great crested flycatcher, tufted titmouse, and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
On August 6th, 2 young ospreys were seen in the nest, while 2 adults were flying overhead, with one of the adults holding a fish in its talons. That’s two years in a row now those ospreys have successfully raised young in their nest. On this same day, I saw my first Lichen Moth, one of the most beautiful moths I have ever seen. The contrast between the yellow and black colors of its wings was quite striking.
During a walk in late August, I heard barred owls calling near Rocky Pond and saw a double-crested cormorant flying overhead. Small wood frogs and toadlets were a common sight along the rain soaked trails.
On Sept. 8th, I took a late afternoon walk to Rocky Pond, and during that slightly over two hour walk, I didn’t see or hear a single bird. That’s the first time that has ever happened to me at Pine Hill Park.
Ospreys were seen at Muddy Pond until around the middle of Sept. when they abandoned the nest for the season. Will they return to the same nest next year? My guess is that they probably will.
The week before the fall equinox gray squirrels and chipmunks could be seen scurrying about collecting acorns and other seeds in preparation for the approaching cold weather. Though the forest was very quiet, you could still find flying about, birds such as yellowthroat, broad-winged hawk, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, song sparrow, belted kingfisher, great blue heron and wood ducks. It was nice to end the summer season with the sight of a beautiful, healthy looking red fox up near the quarries.
That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails and enjoy your time at the park.
Spring, 2019 Summary
At the beginning of spring, lower Giorgetti trails were all bare ground; while throughout all the upper trails one could still find patches of snow and ice, especially on the north facing slopes.
The last day of March found both Rocky and Muddy ponds covered in ice with a few puddles of water dispersed throughout the ice cover. A few Canada geese were seen at Muddy pond and pair of mallards were seen at Rocky Pond swimming in a few small patches of open water on the perimeter of the ponds. The only birds I saw that day were a pileated woodpecker, crow, and the waterfowl mentioned above.
By April 7th, the snow was almost completely gone from the park, but both ponds were still covered in ice with the exception of a narrow band of open water around the perimeters of both ponds. I was terribly disappointed to see the old osprey nest tree blown down by a recent storm. Osprey had successfully nested there the last two years. Eastern newts were seen for the first time this season, along with a few northern migrating birds including yellow-bellied sapsucker, hermit thrush, wood ducks and osprey.
In mid-April, all signs of ground snow and ice were gone, and ice was completely gone from both ponds. Streams were running high, red oaks were budding, trout lily leaves were emerging from the ground cover and coltsfoot was flowering. Water level at Rocky Pond was so high; it was flowing over the top of all 3 beaver dams. More and more northern migrating birds were seen each day. In mid-April you could see Turkey Vultures flying overhead, and common mergansers at Muddy pond. Wood frogs, in large numbers, were calling from a wet wooded area just south of Rocky Pond.
In April, Lauren White made contact with representatives of VELCO in an attempt to get them to install an osprey platform on a power pole they were installing at the north end of Muddy Pond. Her efforts were successful and in the third week of April, 2 osprey were seen building a nest on the platform, after starting one on the top of an adjacent power pole, then leaving it.
On April 22nd, spring wildlife was out in full force. Birds seen that day included tufted titmouse, black-capped chickadee, yellow-bellied sapsucker, hairy woodpecker, crow, black and white warbler, turkey vulture, mallards, Canada geese, osprey and white-breasted nuthatches. Spring peepers were calling, and painted turtles were sunning themselves. Many insects were flying about including the Mourning Cloak, the first butterfly to always appear in the park. 2 deer ticks were found crawling up my pant legs. I always do a thorough job of checking for ticks after each of my walks.
By the first week of May, many flowers were blooming including trout lily, wood anenome, white violets, trailing arbutus, wild oats and partridge berry. A few days later, the forest floor could be seen covered with fiddleheads, barren strawberries, white and purple violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, coltsfoot, and trout lilies, with Solomon’s seal starting to emerge.
In mid-May, polygala and toothwort were flowering, and the great crested flycatcher, catbirds, and rufous-sided towhees could be heard singing in the park. Gray treefrogs were calling and red efts could be seen on the trails, especially after a rain. All 50 American chestnuts survived the winter except one. That dead tree was replaced by an American chestnut obtained from the State of Washington.
By the end of May, foamflower, starflower, and pink Lady’s slipper were all flowering. Indigo buntings were once again nesting in trees under the powerlines on the Carriage trail, and a two-lined salamander was found under a rock.
At the beginning of June you would find false Solomon’s Seal, Canada mayflower, smooth Solomon’s seal and pink Lady’s slippers all flowering. New birds seen included the yellowthroat, broad-winged hawk, Eastern peewee, and least flycatcher.
Mid-June found yellow swallowtails flying about, Eastern chipmunks and gray squirrels scurrying about, and Osprey sitting quietly on the nest, probably keeping 2 or 3 eggs warm.
That’s it for this issue. Enjoy your time at Pine Hill Park, and please, remember to stay on the trails.
UPDATE JULY 6th: Exit Strategy is now open.
UPDATE JUNE 14th: A mountain biker and runner felt they were entitled to run and ride on Exit Strategy despite the orange snow fencing saying the trail is closed. We have put in 220 volunteer hours to repair it for two people to basically set us back another couple of weeks before the trail can open.
UPDATE June 11: Exit Strategy has been repaired with new material added to the corners. Thank you YES Plan. The last day the two girls crushed it as their classmates decided to play hooky.
Thank you Omya for donating the crushed marble/quartzite material.
We are letting it firm up before the trail opens which hopefully will be in the next 2 weeks. Thank you for your patience.
UPDATE as of Friday 5/31: Material is here and lots of it. Monday YES Plan will move as much as possible in a couple of hours. We will be holding a Community Work night Tuesday at 5pm. Come when you can to help us finish the repair work. Meet at the top of Exit Strategy with lots of bug spray and water.
Monday, June 3rd we are hoping to repair the corners on Exit Strategy where the under lying material is ‘surepak’.
When Exit Strategy was built in 2013 we moved 17 tons of surepak into the corners for the foundation. We then covered those corners with dirt that was dug out from borrow pits. Between the heavy use Exit Strategy receives, the hard rains we’re getting and the people that felt it was ok to ride it when the trail was super fragile. The dirt is being eroded off so the surepak is starting to show.
We have material coming this week (5/27) that we hope will set up and provide a firm top coating. YES plan students will be moving the material on June 3rd but they are not allowed to run machinery. We will be using Nemo and buckets to move material.
What we’re really looking for is an adult(s) that can run the whacker packer and help with Nemo. YES plan runs from 9:30-1:30. If you could help us out for 4 hours great, only an hour or two-that’s great too. Please email email@example.com.
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.
Community Work Night, Tuesday, August 6th at 5pm. Bring a weed whacker, headlamp and water. It is National Night Out and we will meet at the end of Evergreen Ave. We will shuttle up to Rocky Pond to trim out the Carriage trail.
We simply can’t express how awesome our volunteer community is in words, so we submit a video and a few stills to give you a sense of the turnout and the effort that was donated to your local trail system today.
Despite a cold rainy miserable morning, we had over 50 volunteers turn up to help us spiff up the front entrance and start to apply the TLC to our trails that make Pine Hill Park such a great place to play!
Unfortunately we are still closed to bikes because of the unusually wet spring (and last fall) that has water settling on the trails in places we’ve never seen before. We had several crews out this morning working on cleaning drainages, and making some temporary measures to get us open just as soon as possible.
We’re so thankful for everyone who turned out to help the trails today. You are awesome individuals, and should feel PROUD !
We had great Annual meeting on Monday, March 25th. A group of 50+ members and general public heard first hand about our accomplishments this past year and about some of our plans for 2019.
We also revealed the initial results of the user surveys and trail counter data collected between April 2018 and March 2019. Our conservative estimates are that the visitors to the Park contribute over $1.3 million to the Rutland area economy!
A discussion session led to lots of great ideas. Hopefully we can move forward with some of the great suggestions and enthusiasm that were present in the room!
We want to thank the following business and organizations that donated items for our raffle: MTBVT, Alpine Bike Works, Basin Ski Shop, First Stop Ski Shop and Killington Bike Park.
Here’s to a great season of playing in the Park!
UPDATE: April 26th, We are pushing start time back to 10AM in hopes the hard rain will have stopped. We still have projects that can be done in the damp. We need YOUR help. Thank you.
9AM at the front entrance of Pine Hill Park. We will be working to clean up the front entrance and do repair work to Exit Strategy. We have tools and gloves. Bring water and sunscreen.
Introducing our Gritty Girls Mountain Bike Club! Grades 3-8; Sundays from 1-3pm, 4/28/2019 – 6/2/2019. Dates may change due to weather.
Cost $35 for Rutland city residents; $46, non-residents. This all-girls club will encourage and promote confidence, knowledge and basic skills in a supportive team environment through games, group rides, and fun challenges.
Includes t-shirt. Equipment loan and/or bike discounts are available. Get ready to ride the trails!
An optional Killington Resort and Suicide Six day for riding will be available at a discounted rate.
Women’s Mountain bike clinic for beginner/advanced beginner starts Thursday, April 25th at 6pm. Registration link: https://register1.vermontsystems.com/wbwsc/vtrutland.wsc/search.html?module=AR&primarycode=561041
Youth Mountain Bike group starts Thursday, June 6th at 6pm. Registration and more information: https://register1.vermontsystems.com/wbwsc/vtrutland.wsc/search.html?module=AR&primarycode=230011
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Join us on Saturday, April 27th for our first trail day, 9AM at Pine Hill Park. We have a couple of projects to tackle. One is to repair Exit Strategy corners, clean drainage’s out and clean up the front entrance. Many hands make light work! Hope to see you there.