Pine Hill Park is 100 years old on May 9th this year. How cool is that? Henry Carpenter a successful businessman in Rutland bought the property from Annie Pierpoint and donated it Rutland City for $1.00 on ay 9th, 1921. His vision was for recreation space. For complete history of the park click on the ‘history tab’ in the menu bar.
Thank you every one who came Saturday to the community work day. It was a huge success in moving some rocks, cleaning drainage’s and moving bark mulch for the Master Gardner’s.
Saturday, April 24th, 9AM to noon. We will do a little bit of work in the front entrance to help Master Gardner’s out. Our primary goal will be to stage rocks on Milk Run for a French Drain and banked corner for a future volunteer group. Rock collecting will be all size rocks using buckets for softball size and smaller. Rock slings with pry bars for larger rocks. We will also being working on cleaning drainage’s out. Meet at Giorgetti parking lot. We have tools, bring water, bug dope, sunscreen and gloves. Thanks and hope to see you there.
UPDATE April 8th: Trails are riding great. With the wind we have been having trees are falling down so reports are appreciated. email@example.com. Trails that are still closed Exit Strategy, steep hill on Droopy, Lichen Rock. Voldemort should be open later today April 8th.
UPDATE April 5th: Opening up trails this afternoon except for our normal winter closures. Hopefully our 15 degree nights are done. Thank you for being patient.
UPDATE April 3rd: Trails are still going through freeze/thaw cycles with the cold weather that is back. We have frost poking up on the trail tread. Please NO BIKES.
UPDATE March 29th: Trails are slowly drying out. With all the rain on Sunday(28th) things got pretty soggy again but it did drive the frost out of the ground. Snow is in the forecast for later in the week so we have to wait until after that event to melt. We will be monitoring trails regularly to see when we can open for bikes. We need a bunch of windy days to dry the park out. PLEASE BE PATIENT!
We are in the middle of freeze/thaw cycles when the trails are super fragile. We would appreciate folks staying off the trails at this time. Hikers if you would stay on the Pond Rd that would be greatly appreciated too. Thank you.
We are hoping you can attend a virtual Pine Hill Partnership annual meeting on Monday, March 29th at 7pm via Go to Meeting.
We will have a short discussion to show our accomplishments for 2020 and plans for 2021. We will also be reviewing our 2020 and 2021 budgets and will elect a slate of officers and board members.
Only folks with current memberships will be eligible to vote, but anyone is welcome to attend the meeting. If you are unsure of your membership status, please contact Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-4867 before 8pm.
Please RSVP by Friday, March 26th if you can attend. We will email you login instructions on the afternoon of the 29th.
We hope to see you there and send a big thank you for your support this year in our continued efforts to make these area trails so special.
Andrew Shinn, Joel Blumental, Dave Jenne, Claus Bartenstein, Peggy Shinn, Nate Netsch, Lindsey Johnston and Shelley Lutz—Board of Directors
We are proud recipients of the Loyal to Our Soil Grant sponsored by Ranch Camp, MTBVT, and Specialized Bikes. Last summer Ranch Camp held two raffles for Loyal to Our Soil Grant. Specialized donated two bikes for the raffle, tickets were $100 each. Also, Ranch Camp donated, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every bike sold in 2020 toward the grant.
We are one of 5 groups to receive this grant. This will help us pay for a VT Youth Conservation Corp group to build Maximum Capacity, our next trail construction project.
A big thank you to Ranch Camp, Specialized Bikes, and MTBVT! #ranchcampvt #specializedbikes #mtbvt
UPDATE 3/12/2021: Please no bikes until the park dries out in April. We are in a very trail tread fragile time of year with freeze/thaw cycles. If winter really shows back up again and everything is frozen solid you will want studded fat tires. Thank you for respecting all our hard volunteer work efforts into making Pine Hill Park such a cool place to play.
UPDATE 3/8/2021: We are done grooming for the year. With warm weather this week and wanting trails to unthaw for spring it is best to leave them alone. It has been a great winter for fat bikes, skis and hiking in the park. Not often we see snow that stays for a long period of time in Rutland.
As we approach spring with freeze/thaw cycles we are asking folks not to use the trails. It does a lot of damage to the trail tread when they are in that fragile state. When trails get rutted up water runs down that rut when it rains or when the frost is coming out of the ground. The water running down the rut then washes away all our hard earned soil we have moved by hand. We appreciate your cooperation. Thank you.
UPDATE 2/25/21: Nate N tried to groom today-Thursday 2/25. Snowdog kept falling off the track he had set earlier in the week. So instead of plugging long he headed back to the barn. Studs and ice cleats are highly recommended. Please do not ride/hike on the trails later Saturday or Sunday when temps get warm and turn everything to mush. Thanks!!!!
UPDATE 2/20/21: Nate N groomed more late this afternoon. Everything is in great shape. Check it out before the 45 degree weather shows up on Wednesday.
UPDATE 2/20/21: Nate N did groom some on Friday 2/19. He is planning on hitting more trails today to make them a little easier to walk and ride. Bikers and hikers if you are sinking in more than an inch please stick to the Pond Rd. When the bike tracks and foot prints freeze solid it’s not a lot of fun to walk or ride on. We can do some grooming but getting frozen tracks out of the trail tread isn’t something Snowdog can do unless we have fresh snow to smooth stuff out. So think about long term for trail use and what you would like it to be-smooth or rutted? Please 4″ or wider tires please. Thank you!
UPDATE 2/19/21: Nate N is planning on grooming later today(Friday 2/19) to try and get some of the foot and snowshoe prints out of the trail tread. The idea is with a little bit of snow and warmer temps he can smooth some of it out. Hearing the report on riding fat bikes in the park is not a lot of fun right now with all the frozen foot prints.
UPDATE 2/13/21: Nate N has been able to groom the last two days with the metal drag sled. Everything packed down really well and should be great walking, running and fat biking until next snow. Please leave a donation in Tinman or join Pine Hill Partnership to help offset the cost of running Snowdog. www.pinehillpark.org Thanks.
UPDATE 2/4/21: Nate N has done a bunch of grooming the last two days. It still might be a touch soft but should set up nicely. Hopefully we won’t get too much rain on 2/5. Here is a grooming map on what has been done.
UPDATE 1/19/21: Nate N did some grooming today. It’s still a little soft but we have a good track set. What is groomed: Escalator, Svelte, Sisyphus, Watkins, Shimmer, Overlook, Jigsaw Milk Run, Salamander, part of Droopy, Pond Rd. Plus a width swath on the ballfield.
UPDATE 1/16/21: It’s a soft and slushy weekend. We would appreciate folks to stay off the single track trails so they don’t form slushy ruts that freeze. Thank you.
UPDATE 1/13/2021: Park is riding super currently. We are asking 4″ or wider tires please. Please leave a donation in Tinman that will go toward our cool trail system. Thank you.
UPDATE 12/25/20: Christmas morning it is 55 degrees and raining out. We are very much hoping not to lose all our snow today. Once things freeze back up again and we get some snow Nate will continue to groom.
Nate N has started to groom in the park. We had so much snow last week that it was really hard for Snowdog to get through it. Waiting now for snow to compact and get some moisture in it so it will pack down. The plan is to try and get the trails highlighted in red groomed before the rain shows up on Christmas Eve. We’re hoping to get a solid base down and that it won’t all melt!
Snowshoers and skiers you could help us out by following these highlighted trails. It will make it easier for Snowdog .
Why we do not remove leaves there are several reasons. One we move all hard earned dirt by hand in 5 gallon buckets and leaf blowers blow all that dirt off the trail tread. Second the ground up leaves will actually help hold our dirt on the trails and protects the trail tread. Plus freeze/thaw cycles the leaves help hold our trail tread in place and not get sucked up on boots or tires.
We are not blessed like other local trail systems that have an abundance of dirt. Pine Hill Park is not one of those areas.
We know leaves are slippery especially when wet but with the traffic the park is seeing currently the leaves will get ground up quickly.
Thank you for understanding.
Here is a great video on why we leave leaves.
As of late Monday September 7th, our newest trail, Milk Run, is fully open!!
We started building this trail with YES plan from Rutland High School and Youth Works volunteers in 2018. That first year we completed about 1300′ of trail with 400 volunteers and 1600 volunteer hours. In 2019 we completed about 1000 feet of trail with 1225 volunteer hours, 286 volunteers. 2020 the year of corona and no major volunteer groups like YES plan or Youth Works we accomplished quite a bit.
The trail is just under 3900 feet (.74 mile) long. FYI, the longest trail in the park is Stegosaurus at 4100 feet.
The Vermont Youth Conservation Corp (VYCC) came in with 4 crew members for 2 weeks and we completed just under 1500′ of trail. With VYCC removing organic material and our three Pine Hill Partnership volunteers doing finish work behind them it was a perfect combination utilizing the work force. We completed just under 1500′ trail in a little over 500 hours. We did have an extra hand two days that really helped with getting a couple of small banked corners built along with finish work. Having a trained work crew was instrumental on getting this trail done.
VYCC is a paid trail crew. We are still soliciting donations and contributions to help defray the cost.
The trail still will need a touch of refinement next year (hopefully our big volunteer groups are back). We expect to build two banked corners on the new section.
Update October 28, 2020: We received a check from IMBA/Shimano for $2300. to help pay for the VYCC crew we had in the park the end of July. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this fund.
We have been selected as one of 10 recipients of the IMBA Dig In Grant program. With the support of Shimano, IMBA is doing a grant to pay for trail building at Pine Hill Park. Read the announcement from IMBA here.
This program will help us raise money needed for the VT Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) to come in at the end of July and help finish off a couple of trails in the park that volunteers have been working on. (map below)
Thanks to COVID-19, large volunteer groups are not happening in 2020. VYCC will be a big help, but we will have to pay for their services.
Our newest trail, Milk Run, was started in 2018 with the help of volunteers. At the end of July we are having VYCC come in and hope to use their time to get all the organic material off so that we can open the trail up to the top of Upper Halfpipe. This is about 1500′ of organic top layer to be removed.
Why remove organic in Pine Hill Park? We have found for long term sustainability, our trails hold up better by removing it early. Early on in our learning process of building trails we would do a ‘rake and ride’. Those trails now have been rebuilt at least once if not twice.
If you’d like to help us with this effort, please consider making a donation here. As always, thank you for your support!
Thanks to Tom Estill we have these great nature reports.
Driving up to the pine hill park parking lot on the first day of spring, I was pleasantly surprised to see my first robins of the season scurrying about the ground looking for worms and other food to eat. Otherwise, the only other birds I saw that day were downy and hairy woodpeckers, crow, Canada geese at Muddy Pond, and tufted titmouse. At Rocky Pond, I observed a pair of turkey vultures circling above the rocky overlook, then land among the rocks. Thinking they might be considering nesting there, I walked up the trail and took a closer look but found no birds, nor nest. Rocky Pond was mostly open water, with a thin layer of ice covering the south and east shores. Numerous Eastern newts could be seen swimming near the shores where there was open water. Two days later, all ice was gone from Rocky Pond. Muddy Pond, on the other hand, still had a small amount of ice on its west side shore. At Muddy Pond, you could see Mallards, wood ducks and Canadian geese, along with 2 osprey flying overhead.
March 26th found Eastern bluebirds sitting on the trailhead area bird houses, occasionally flying in and out of the boxes. Very exciting to see, but tempered with the knowledge that they probably would not nest so close to all the park visitors going into, and coming out of, the park. And after watching the boxes closely for a few weeks, that’s exactly what happened. On this day, all ice was gone from both ponds, and numerous wood ducks could be heard calling in the wetland area just south of Rocky Pond. The first butterflies of the season, the mourning cloak and the Eastern Comma were seen, as well as the first wildflower of the season(as usual), the Coltsfoot. The last thing of interest on this day was the sighting of an Eastern garter snake near the quarry cliffs.
The last day of March found the oak trees starting to bud, common mergansers at Muddy Pond, and barred owls “hooting” near Trail sign #14.
The first week of April found both hooded and common mergansers on Muddy Pond, white breasted nuthatches building nests in tree cavities, osprey nesting for the 4th year in a row at Muddy Pond, and spring peepers starting to make their presence known with their piercing calls. While walking along Crusher Rd., I heard numerous gray squirrels and Eastern chipmunks sounding their alarm calls, then watched a beautiful red fox run across the road. During an evening walk, I noticed how quiet the forest was but knew that soon it would be filled with the sound of numerous birds as they established their territories, and began their mating rituals.
On April 19th, bluebirds were still flying in and out of the birdhouses, which surprised me very much. Were they actually going to nest in those exposed boxes, I wondered. Yellow-bellied sapsuckers had returned, and you could not walk anywhere within the park without hearing the drumming of those birds. It seemed the park was filled with them. I had never heard so many.
A broad-winged hawk was seen flying through the forest with a chipmunk hanging from its talons. Hermit thrushes had returned, along with the first warbler of the season, the American Redstart. And at Muddy Pond, Canada geese had begun nesting atop beaver dens.
By April 23rd, the forest was alive with numerous southern migratory birds having arrived, wood frogs calling during the day, Canada geese and Osprey nesting, trailing arbutus flowering, and turkey vultures continuing to fly over the Rocky Pond lookout. I had the feeling that they were probably interested in nesting there, but the presence of hikers would keep that from happening. The evening was still very quiet.
By the last week of April, spring peepers were being heard all over the Rutland Area, trout lily was flowering, tiny wood frog tadpoles were emerging from their eggs, painted turtles were sunning themselves, and the forest was filling with birds. On one birdwalk April 28th, I saw a cardinal, tufted titmouse, yellow-bellied sapsucker, rufous-sided towhee, yellow-rumped warblers, white-breasted nuthatch, black-capped chickadee, robin, crow, Eastern phoebe, ring-necked ducks, Canada geese, red-shouldered hawks, osprey, and yellow-throated vireos.
The first week of May found a pair of broad-winged hawks checking out a nest near Trail Marker 12. But its proximity to hikers would keep them from nesting there, unfortunately. And on May 2nd I saw something I had never seen before. A yellow-bellied sapsucker and hairy woodpecker were fighting up and down this tree for the longest time until they both flew off into the forest. Fiddleheads were emerging, wood anemone, barren strawberry, painted trillium and purple violets were flowering, and on May 2nd, dozens of painted turtles could be seen sunning themselves on Muddy Pond. Black-throated blue warblers, black and white warblers and black-throated green warblers were seen for the first time.
On May 7th, adult Canada geese were seen swimming with their 4 goslings at Rocky Pond, and gay wings and dwarf ginseng were in flower.
On May 14th, night temperatures reached near 32 degrees F, which turned out to be the last near freezing temp. of the season. During that day, I saw my first blue-headed vireo.
Two days later, the American chestnuts began “leafing out”. All 50 chestnuts had survived the winter except for one. One of the trees is now 11 ft. tall!
By the start of the third week of May, summer resident birds had all pretty much returned with the exception of only a few birds. Residents now included the beautiful scarlet tanager and indigo buntings, Eastern towhee, ovenbird, and various flycatchers.
On May 19th, while walking along Crusher Rd., I once again heard numerous chipmunks giving warning calls to one another, and sure enough, a moment later, a barred owl came flying across the road right in front of me. Gray treefrogs could be heard throughout the whole forest with their distinctive call.
On May 21, Shelley Lutz and I went on an interesting bird walk. While I used my Bird Calling App. to attract birds, she had her camera ready to take close ups of the birds as they came near to investigate. You can see some of her amazing photos on the Pine Hill Park Partnership website. I’ll tell you, she got some amazing photos. See for yourself!
On May 23rd, while walking on the Carriage Trail, suddenly out of the woods right in front of me jumped a mother ruffed grouse with “fluffed” up wings, coming at me aggressively, and making a high pitched squeaking noise. Hiding in the shrubbery nearby were her chicks. I just casually moved away not wanting to bother her anymore than I had to.
During the last week of May I saw the ruby throated hummingbird feeding on honeysuckle flowers, a small toadlet crossing the carriage trail, 2 broad-winged hawks fighting near the quarry, a beautiful tiger beetle, and a chipmunk feeding on red oak leaves. By the way, leave the tiger beetles alone, they have a nasty bite.
On May 28th I found a chestnut-sided warbler nest being built just a few feet away from Trail Marker #11. A few days later, the nest had 2 eggs in it. Then a few days after that, the eggs were gone and the nest abandoned. I have no idea what happened. The nest hadn’t been damaged. That same day, I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak in the forest. In fact, Shelley identified its call, before I even saw it.
By the end of May the common buttercup, forget-me-not, pink azalea and starflower were all in bloom.
Mid June found 2 families of geese on Rocky Pond, yellow wood sorrel, dwarf cinquefoil, thyme-leaved speedwell, common fleabane, king devil, and dame’s rocket all in flower, adult veery were feeding their young, schools of baby brown bullheads could be found in Rocky Pond, and fireflies were seen the first time on June 17th.
On the last day of spring, I saw a gorgeous white-tailed deer crossing Crusher Rd. Since then, I see THEM almost everytime I hike in that area on my early morning hikes.
That’s it for this issue. Please stay on the trails, and enjoy your walks, hikes, and times at Pine Hill Park.