WINDSOR, Vt. – The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation in partnership with Ascutney Trails Association announced the completion and opening of a new multi-use trail on Mt. Ascutney. The eight-mile Norcross Trail provides a link for mountain bikers and hikers between the Ascutney Outdoors Center and Mount Ascutney State Park.
Conceived in 2010, ATA members and FPR staff have spent the last 11 years working through a comprehensive environmental review to develop an ecologically sound trail, laying the trail out on the ground, and constructing this hand-built single-track recreational destination. Between 2016 and 2021, FPR-funded crews from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps spent nine weeks clearing and constructing trail. Ascutney Trails Association funded and built three bridges and contributed both paid and volunteer trail labor and design work. Two of the major bridges built in 2020 required a design stamped by a civil engineer and subsequent approval by Vermont state engineers. Stantec Consulting Services generously donated engineer time to help contain related costs.
Additional trail funding came from community donations, annual Vermont Mountain Bike Association membership dues, and two VMBA trail grants, which totaled about $10,000 in funds designated to covering bridge construction costs. Eminent trail builder Jim Lyall has supported the project, donating hundreds of hours to design an iconic trail that takes hikers and bikers across stunning terrain. Features include a beautiful mountain stream crossing, granite slabs, historical logging ox paths, smooth switchback bike flow-segments, bench cut traverses across steep slopes, technical climbs around granite boulders at the historic Norcross Quarry and three bridges, all through a mix of ecosystems within hardwood and pine forests.
The Norcross trail offers something for everyone. For hikers and trail runners, it connects the summit-bound Windsor and Brownsville trails, allowing both to be hiked as a loop from a single trail head without walking between trailheads on busy Routes 44 and 44A.
For mountain bikers, the trail connects the vast network of bike trails on the West Windsor town forest with Mount Ascutney State Park and the Swoops and Loops Trail. As bike trails are developed on the Weathersfield town forest, this trail will also serve to link the two town forest trail networks. When compared to typical East Coast mountain bike trail networks, bikers will enjoy the unique simplicity of a through trail with limited intersections and decision points.
To access the Norcross trail, bikers can park either at the Swoops and Loops trail parking area across from the state park, or at the Ascutney Outdoors Center. Bikes are not allowed on the Windsor or Brownsville hiking trails and are asked not to park at either trailhead. Hikers may access the trail from Ascutney Outdoors, the Swoops and Loops parking area, or from the Windsor and Brownsville trails existing trailhead parking.
FPR and ATA thank all who played a part in seeing this project come to life and are excited to welcome hikers, trail runners, and bikers to Mt. Ascutney’s newest recreational offering.