The Village Path in Irasville is gaining a new trail that will connect the Big Picture Theater to the Skatium, providing a route through the wetlands and connecting two centers of commerce, including the Waitsfield Post Office, Evergreen Place, Couples Club Recreation Field and the existing Village Path that goes behind the Irasville cemetery to the laundromat.

Thanks to a grant from the Mad River Valley Recreation District and a commitment from the Mad River Valley Rotary (they will be building a bridge) the project has the resources to get off the ground but constructing many feet of elevated, wooden boardwalk and an additional bridge will require further fund-raising efforts according to path director Carol Thompson. A training team from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps will be on hand the week of August 11, and the public is invited to stop by and watch the trail as it goes through the construction process. Volunteers are also welcome.

The Mill Brook Trail in Fayston is one of the longest, oldest trails in the local network. One section of this trail (including the bridge that was destroyed by ice this spring) is shared by the Catamount Trail Association, and another part of it has been adopted by the Fayston Elementary School. Beginning at Tucker Hill Road and ending before the Mad River Barn, paralleling Route 17, many parts of this four-mile-long trail were first developed as part of the old ski touring center at Tucker Hill Lodge, managed by Rob Center many years ago.  

"There are many difficult aspects of the Mill Brook Trail. The terrain is wet, steep, uneven and has a substrate of solid clay. The bridges do not see much sun, so they can get slippery and are prone to rot. The MRPA has spent many hours and a lot of funds on keeping this trail in good condition. We recently completed a trail assessment with Dave Hardy of the Green Mountain Club. His recommendation, based on the difficult walking conditions and instability of the slope, was to turn the trail into a winter-only trail, similar to the Catamount Trail. After a good amount of discussion with board members and landowners, the MRPA has decided to keep the trail open year round with the understanding that it is a woods trail and conditions will vary," Thompson said.

The MRPA has recently become connected with the Mad River Byway, part of a federal program (www.byways.org) establishing the corridor from Middlesex to Granville as well as Route 17 to the top of Appalachian Gap in Buel's Gore as "The Mad River Byway."

"Hopefully this collaboration between the Path and the Byway will allow us to purchase easements, be eligible for grants for signage and help us by providing better access to networking with other trail organizations," Thompson added.