Come June 1, 2019, outdoor enthusiasts of all varieties will be able to journey through the entire Mad River Valley trail network with the guidance of newly installed trailhead kiosks and the most comprehensive printed MRV trails map to date.
Eighteen trailhead kiosks were erected recently at existing trail access points across the towns of Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston. The kiosks feature a site map, trail information and user guidelines – part of a group of 50 total trailhead signs being established across Mad River Valley this summer to identify and unify its expansive trail network. These kiosks join two that were put in the ground in 2018 – at Scrag Mountain Town Forest and Mad River Park —and highlight connectivity between the paths and sidewalks of community centers like Irasville and more remote mountain trails.
In addition to the kiosks, an updated waterproof map of the area’s trail network has been released this week. The 2019 edition of the Mad River Valley Trail Map was produced in partnership with Maine-based cartographers Map Adventures. The map utilizes the latest trail data and detailed descriptions to provide a resource for all trail users, including hikers, bikers, swimmers, snowshoers, skiers and more.
The Mad River Valley Trailhead Kiosk and Mapping Project is an initiative of the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative, representing 13 stakeholder organizations who convene to coordinate and improve trail-based recreation in The Valley. In September 2017, the collaborative identified trail signage as a key priority to enhance the economic and community benefits associated with recreation.
The Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative launched the trail identification effort with project management provided by the Mad River Valley Planning District, $25,500 in municipal funding, $33,000 in grants from Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services and the Vermont Department of Health, plus extensive participation from local partners including the Mad River Path Association, Mad River Riders, Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce, Mad River Ridge Runners, Friends of the Mad River, Sugarbush, Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston Conservation Commissions, the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Forest Service, and more.
The kiosks consist of a sign panel designed by Waitsfield-based Wood & Wood Sign Systems, site map developed by Waitsfield resident Brian Voigt, and Vermont hemlock fabricated through the generosity of Fayston resident Seth Henry, with support of many volunteers.
The 2019 MRV Trail Map is available through local retailers and via Map Adventures. In addition, a limited number of the 2019 MRV Trail Map are available to community members free of charge, courtesy of the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative. They can be picked up at the Waitsfield, Warren and Fayston town offices while supplies last.
In celebration of this project milestone, a Community Walk and Trailhead Tour takes place on June 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. Led by Kevin Russell, longtime local sidewalk and trails advocate, and Joshua Schwartz, executive director of the Mad River Valley Planning District, this 1.5-mile community walk will begin at the center of Irasville, travel along the Heart of the Valley Trail (boardwalk) and conclude at the Lareau Farm pavilion. This interactive community walk will highlight the history and unique features of the route’s natural, cultural and recreation resources.
Participants will get a first look at the newly installed trailhead kiosk signs as well as receive a limited edition 2019 MRV Trail Map, courtesy of the Mad River Valley Trails Collaborative. The final stop for this all-ages excursion will be the Summer Recreation Kickoff and celebration organized by the Mad River Valley Recreation District, Mad River Path Association and the Mad River Riders (4 p.m.), which will feature a kiosk ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“Many hands and minds have touched this project,” said Schwartz. “The culmination of this effort will be a truly special signage system that celebrates the unique character of many different recreational sites, while also reflecting our unity as a Mad River Valley community. We hope the beauty and rustic character of these signs will convey a clear message: Enjoy The Valley and help us care for this place.”