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New Snow Opens Cross Country Trails

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Trail sharing is important. The ORNC encourages walkers and snowshoers to hike beside the ski tracks, not on them. Photo By J. Gregory Gerdel.

By J. Gregory Gerdel

UPDATED JANUARY 20: The unexpectedly abundant snowfall over the weekend allowed the grooming of trails once the temperatures dropped below freezing and the wet snow dried out. The long-range forecast indicates sustained winter temperatures through the end of January.

Both the Parks Department and the Onion River Nordic Club (ORNC) began grooming on Monday. “Grooming when the snow is warm and saturated will make boilerplate,” Dan Voisin, ORNC president, explained. Grooming will include the trails in both Hubbard and North Branch parks maintained by the city, and the connected trails on either side of North Street that continue to a parking area on County Road across from the large gray barn at Morse Farm Sugarworks.

Once the grooming is in place, skiers are asked to stay on the main trails. “The area that is the most vulnerable may be also the most confusing if you just follow where other people ski. That area is the one after crossing Sparrow Farm Road north of Sparrow Farm Field. There, the landowners ski all around, so it’s important to follow the groomed trails, or the orange flagging, that signifies the trail we have permission to use. The other guidance is to take the trail that stays between or is the farthest from the houses,” said Geoff Beyer, who has been active in preparing the trails. (See updated map below).

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Montpelier Parks Department map of winter trails around North Street

The Parks Department posts regularly updated trail conditions on their Facebook page, and full-resolution maps of the trails along North Street and in Hubbard Park and the North Branch River Park can be downloaded from the city’s website: https://www.montpelier-vt.org/211/Park-Maps

The ORNC posts regular updates about skiing and club activities on their Facebook page and website: onionrivernordic.org

The parking lot at the intersection of North Street and Cummings Road is now open.

ORIGINAL STORY FROM JAN. 7:

By J. Gregory Gerdel

After many skiers parked along North Street to access the new, but thin, snow cover that arrived over the weekend, their helter-skelter meanderings through the neighborhood annoyed some of the resident property owners. David Sparrow, for one, told The Bridge upper North Street gets overwhelmed by cars parking too close to intersections and across from one another, which makes driving challenging. Sparrow has placed signs along the road to tell people where it is best to park.

Earlier in the fall, the Onion River Nordic Club contacted key property owners for permission to re-create the winter-only trail from North Street across the Sparrow Farm field to connect with the Sparrow Farm Trail that climbs from the city’s North Branch Park. But signage and markers for the trail were not yet in place when the new snow arrived during the first weekend in January.

In response to the concerns raised on social media, club president Dan Voisin posted an update about the current situation with the trails on either side of North Street:

“Hey folks, Brief update on trails…

MHS and U32 are both groomed for skiing. North Branch Nature Center and North Branch Park are both skiing well for kick-and-glide fans.

The trails along North Street — both the east and west sides of North Street — including Sparrow Farm field, Morse’s Meadow, and Sherwood Forest need more snow to be groomable and safe. Please refrain from skiing there until we have a bit more snow to work with.

When the North Street trails do open, please do not park on roads, particularly near the intersection of Sparrow Farm Road and North Street. Parking lots will be created in Morse’s Meadow across from the gray barn and on Cummings at the northwest corner of West Wind.

Dogs are not allowed on the North Street trails per our access agreements.

Please respect all landowner signs and privacy! This is critical! Landowner access is the foundation of these trails. Please show utmost respect and courtesy at all times.

Thank you,

Dan Voisin

Montpelier Parks Department map of multi-use trails in Hubbard Park and North Branch River Park