Rockingham Selectboard meets with Windham Trail Alliance

On Tuesday, March 15, the Rockingham Selectboard heard from the Windham County Trails Alliance. Photo provided

ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, March 15, the Rockingham Selectboard heard a presentation from Windham County Trails Alliance, the local chapter of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association.

WCOTA Board member Conor Floyd stated that the group is primarily a mountain biking club, but that they are also building and maintaining the multi-use trails on Oak Hill.

Floyd shared a map of the existing trails: there were four they were building and had maintained over the last two years while working with landowners, the Town of Rockingham, Village of Bellows Falls, and one private landowner. He said building trails took time, “[It’s] a lot of work.” Susan Hammond agreed and added, “And [the work it takes] to maintain them.”

Floyd said WCOTA hosted weekly workshops for beginner mountain bikers at the Bellows Falls Union High School and advanced rides on Oak Hill.

He said they were excited to partner with the Town and the BF Community Bike Project on the pump track at the Recreation Center and invited the Board to check out the trail.

WCOTA’s goals for 2022 are to finish and improve trails and improve signage in the forest. The Oak Hill trails are featured on the mobile app Trailforks, which maps out trails in each state. There are 2480 trails listed in Vermont.

Rockingham has 12 trails on the app and visitors can find information on parking at the Rec Center with updates available on Facebook at WCOTA. Floyd had met people on the trail recently who were on their way south from Burlington, but stopped to check out Oak Hill because it was close to the exit.

Rick Cowan asked if WCOTA worked with the Saxtons River Valley Trail Initiative. Floyd said SRVTI was looking at connectivity and WCOTA’s goal was to establish a network of densely located trails on Oak Hill, but they attended each other’s meetings annually.

Bonnie Anderson said there was a loose connection between Oak Hill through residential streets to Route 121, and with signage, it could point people back on the trail toward Saxtons River.

Development Director Gary Fox said SRVTI and WCOTA would be connected through marketing and a wayfinding program. Signs with QR codes would direct visitors to maps for each level of the trail; from the flat, easier Riverfront Trail, to the steeper Oak Hill.

Hammond asked about multi-use and if the trails were wide enough for both hikers and bikers. Floyd said that it’s definitely multi-use, and a balance. The signs would remind folks to share the trails and he said, “Really, the courtesy is bikes should be moving over for hikers.”

Cowan asked if electric bikes were welcome. Floyd said, for now, WCOTA did not have specific policies and explained that the trails get light usage.

Floyd said, as the number of users grows, “Success may add problems [which are] good problems to have if we have more people using [the trails]…but it’s not like Keene.”

He said they were excited to get an average of ten beginner riders per week, wanting to bring new people into the sport. Floyd said that he started mountain biking two years ago.

For more information on volunteering with WCOTA, joining the kickoff trail building day this Spring, or the weekly ride contact and Like WCOTA on Facebook.

The Rockingham Selectboard meets on the first and third Tuesdays of each month in the Lower Theatre of the Bellows Falls Opera House at 6 p.m.


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