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Cross Country Skiing Update

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Trail groomer. Courtesy of Geoff Beyer

“THE MORSE FARM SKI CENTER IS NOT OPEN. The trails west of County Road are being groomed by a coalition of Parks staff and volunteers with the permission of the Morse family. PLEASE STAY ON THE GROOMED TRAILS as these trails are all on private property and there are many un-groomed feeder trails that lead to private residences.” Parks Director Alec Ellsworth posted on the Montpelier Parks Facebook page on Friday, January 17.

The Onion Rive Nordic Club (ORNC) board and advisory panel met Monday evening in the Local 84 offices on State Street with Montpelier Parks Director Alec Ellsworth and Geoff Beyer, who recently retired from the position. Coordinating the management, signage, and grooming for the newly opened ski trails is an immediate priority for the group.

“Opening access to some of the trails on the Morse family land is generous and greatly appreciated by the skiing community,” said ORNC President Dan Voisin. Beyer noted that several other landowners in the area have also given permission for the ski trail.

Additional signage is a priority because the project’s success depends on skiers staying on the designated, groomed trail. Other ski tracks branch off toward the homes of adjacent landowners and are not part of the public trail, Voisin said.

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While the trail has been groomed at the Sparrow Farm and east to the County Road, the connection down to the North Branch Park from the Sparrow Farm is awaiting completion of a bridge. Voisin and other skiers noted that the trail from the Sparrow Farm down to North Branch has several steep sections that challenge even expert skiers.

Beyer said he is working on options to create detours around those sections of the current Sparrow Farm Trail, but it is unlikely they will be open this winter.

When contacted last week, Burr Morse explained that recently, staff at the Morse Farm Sugarworks has received many calls asking about skiing the trails on the east side of County Road. Morse wants to clarify that the east side trails are not open.

“We’ve opened some of the old trails on the west side of the County Road for a connection into Montpelier’s trails. But we’ve got cows and electric fence on the east side. At this point, those old, east side trails are simply gone forever,” Morse said.

Concerned about the fast-moving traffic on the County Road when people walk from the Farm’s lower parking lot, Morse is supportive of a plan by Onion River Nordic Club (ORNC) volunteers to plow a parking area in the hayfield (Dot’s Meadow) across from the Morse Farm’s big barn. The meadow had been the location for ORNC’s Bill Koch League youth skiing program for several years.

“The best place to park is in the lot at the corner of North Street and Cummings Street (formerly known as West Wind trails),” said Ellsworth.

Information about trail conditions in the parks and the developing plans for the connecting trail will be available on the Facebook pages for Montpelier City Parks and the Onion River Nordic Club.