Thank you Rosey, Chris and Bryan for spending 3 hours on a damp Sunday morning in Pine Hill Park. Complete with mosquitoes having breakfast on them.
Update: Our May 12th work day starts at 9AM meet at the front entrance of the park. Projects will be clean up Exit Strategy and repair tire ruts plus clean up drainage’s on trails. We have tools and gloves for everyone bring water, bug dope and sunscreen.
2018 Community Work Days:
Saturday, April 28th at 9AM. Meet at the front entrance.
Saturday, May 12th at 9AM. Meet at the front entrance.
Will be working on the front gardens and cleaning drainage’s out.
YES plan starts June 6th and runs through June 19th. We are not sure exactly what days we will have volunteer groups.
Youth Works starts June 18th and 19th at 9:30AM at the front entrance. We work every Monday and Tuesday till the end of July. No group the week of July 4th.
Anyone is welcome to come join the fun.
We hope you enjoy Tom Estill’s exploration of the park in the winter time as much as we do.
Wild Times at Pine Hill Park
The official start of Winter in December of 2017 started off with bitterly cold temperatures and a forest covered in a few inches of snow. Both Rocky and Muddy Ponds were completely covered in ice and snow. Birch seeds lying in the snow were a common site, especially at the base of adult birch trees. Many deer, rodent and carnivore tracks could be found throughout the forest, and many spots could be seen where deer and squirrels had dug through the snow to reach acorns and other food hidden beneath the snow. On a Jan. 2nd hike, the only birds I saw or heard were a hairy woodpecker, crow, and white-breasted nuthatches. I was happy to see porcupine tracks near the power lines on the Carriage Trail leading up to the rocky cliffs. The same cliffs which were the site of active porcupine dens in previous years. While sitting quietly next to the beaver den on the East side of Rocky Pond, I was treated to the sounds of groans of grunts of active beavers inside the den.
One day, during the second week of January, a warm front moved through the area bringing with it showers and temperatures high enough to melt most of the snow. During the night, the rain ended relatively abruptly followed by sub-zero temperatures which froze the water on the ground forming a layer of ice on the ground and a layer of shallow snow on top of the ice. The whole forest was covered in this ice/snow layer. Still, many gray squirrel food caches could be seen dug up in the snow/ice where squirrels were retrieving some of their food stores. On Jan. 14th, the only birds seen on my walk were a small flock of black-capped chickadees. Many rabbit, fox, deer and gray squirrel tracks could be seen.
Jan. 20th was a beautiful day with clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s. Typical winter birds seen included hairy woodpecker, tufted titmouse, pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, and white-breasted nuthatch. It was also the first time this season I had seen SNOW FLEAS at the base of many trees. Always a sign to me that the worst of winter was behind us. I came across coyote and deer tracks next to each other and decided to follow them. The tracks led me to a deer carcass. The deer was only partially eaten, so I knew the coyote and other scavengers would be back to finish eating at a later time.
The first week of Feb. found 4” of snow on the ground. White-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, pileated woodpecker, and golden-crowned kinglets were the only birds seen. Both the kinglet and red squirrels were seen at Muddy Pond, which is one of the few places in the park where both those species can be occasionally found. Rodent, deer, coyote and fox tracks a common sight.
On Feb. 11th, 15”of snow was on the ground. Lots of deer and squirrel tracks, and uncovered food caches could be seen throughout park, and the only birds seen were white-breasted nuthatch, crow, and a small flock of common redpoll near the trailhead parking lot. Many signs of active pileated woodpeckers around lower trails.
The third week of Feb. found the area undergoing a warming trend with temperatures reaching 70 degrees F on Feb. 21st. Consequently, many bare ground areas could be found throughout the park. Many streams had flowing water, and Rocky and Muddy Ponds, though completely covered in ice, both had a thin layer of water covering the ice. Even saw a few small midges flying about. Saw a gray squirrel sticking its head out of an old abandoned pileated woodpecker hole, a most endearing sight.
On Feb. 24th, temperatures were back in the low 40s. More and more bare ground was appearing throughout the forest, with only north-facing slopes containing any appreciable amount of snow. Cardinal and tufted-titmouse could both be heard singing. Many gray squirrels seen running throughout the forest. And small areas of open water could be seen along the edges of both beaver dens on Rocky Pond.
The first week of March found a few inches of snow on the ground dropped by a nor’easter which came through the area. Bare spots of ground could be found where that ground was exposed to lots of sunlight. Dark-eyed junco, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, and crow were seen. Both ponds were showing open water in spots around their perimeters.
On March 4th, an otter was seen at Muddy Pond.
3 nor’easters came through the area in March. By mid-March, cold temperatures had returned, both ponds were once again completely frozen over, and there was an average of 8” of snow on the ground. On March 18th, a few days before the official start of spring, birds seen included crow, black-capped chickadee, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper and white-breasted nuthatch.
Bobcat were once again photographed in the park. The exact time and location is being kept secret in order to insure their privacy and protection.
That’s it for this season summary. Please stay on the trails and enjoy your wildlife viewing and experiences at Pine Hill Park.
For more of Tom’s reports, check out this page
As we are in the midst of the freeze thaw cycles. We have a few trails that we will be closing off for winter. This will happen the week of November 20th. These trails stay closed until spring is well under way.
Droopy Muffin (steep hill) between Intersections 30 and 30A will close, Lichen Rock and Exit Strategy. We do this to protect the trail tread from ruts when it’s soft and folks are riding. There is always a good possibility that Voldemort will close in late winter once the surface water starts running.
Please respect our trail closures. Our volunteer groups work really hard to have a great trail system so please don’t make work for them by rutting trails up.
Thanks! Remember rubberside down.
Folks here is an excellent video on why we do not remove leaves from our trails.
Reasons why we do not remove leaves from Pine Hill Park trails and why our bridges do not have hard wire mesh on top.
We tried leaf removal for 2 years in a row about 6-7 years ago. By July our trails are all ball bearings. Means people are slipping and sliding around on ball bearings all summer long which isn’t any fun. Leaves help hold our trail tread together. A lot of this has to do with our soil composition compared to other areas. In the spring by leaving the fall leaves on it protects our trail tread from freeze thaw cycles which lets us open up earlier.
The other issue are leaf berms on the downhill side of trails and clogging our drainage’s up. Means water runs down the trail tread which is washing away our good dirt and creating more drainage’s issues. The other downside is leaf blowers blow all the dirt off the trail tread. We work WAY too hard to move dirt on the trail tread to have a leaf blower come along and blow it off again.
Why our bridges do not having hardware mesh on them. The bridges that we have seen in Vermont that have hardware mesh on them are flat there are no curves/bends or twists. Most of the bridges in our local area are made out of pressure treated lumber which is slippery when wet. Our decking on the bridges in Pine Hill Park are composite material which we believe is not as slippery when wet like pressure treated lumber. We do not want people falling on the hardware mesh which would hurt even more than falling on the composite decking.
Yes we know the leaves make it more challenging to walk, run or ride but by leaving the leaves on the trail our system is more sustainable in the long run.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Saturday, August 26th. 8:15-noon bring water and mosquito repellent. The project is to rake out a connector trail between Dewey Wood Rd and Ridge Runner on the Redfield Trails. Meet at the front entrance of the park.
Weed whacking night on the Carriage Trail, Wednesday, August 9th, leave the Giorgetti Parking lot at 6pm. We will have extra weed whackers for use. Bring a head lamp to hike out with.
We really could use YOUR help.
The Carriage Trail has a logging operation going on near the top of Library Pass. Please use caution when hiking, running or mountain biking. The trail is open but please watch for very large machinery on the trail. The operation will continue into late fall.