Between grassed pathways along active farms, boardwalks crossing beaver ponds, twisty single-track trails through the hills, and downtown sidewalks, the Mad River Path is as diverse as a trail network comes. The network is diverse as a necessity to connect the people and special places of the Mad River Valley, and to offer something for everyone whether you’re just beginning to walk or you want to access world class mountain biking. When considering the mission of the Mad River Path is to connect Warren to Moretown with one continuous public pathway, it becomes even clearer that the trail network needs to be flexible to achieve that goal.
The Mad River Path is purposely set up to cater to landowners who hold a variety of values and interests. For example, the path can skirt around the edge of a property. Privacy fences can be constructed, whether made of dense shrubs or beautiful wood. Although disappointing for some folks, it is sometimes necessary to prohibit dogs on a section. Some landowners choose to donate a permanent trail easement to the Mad River Path to protect it indefinitely. Other landowners allow the path or trail access based on a handshake or simple written agreement. In priority trail connection areas, the Mad River Path Board of Directors will choose to purchase a trail easement or parcel of land to enable a new path section—this is how Wait’s Way behind the Waitsfield Elementary School came to be.
While the Mad River Path holds deep knowledge in all of the activities that people enjoy on the trail network, the organization depends on a diversity of partners to strengthen trail building, maintenance, outreach, and conservation. The Mad River Riders, for example, are masters at building and planning highly popular multi-use trails—they’re an important partner for connecting the valley’s trail networks and improving the ones enjoyed today. Friends of the Mad River are essential partners for ensuring that adequate thought is put into trail locations and designs that protect local waterways and wildlife. The Vermont Land Trust is responsible for conserving lands that host multiple path sections, the Chamber and business community help reach more people with messaging, and the Planning District plays an incredible organizing and coordinating role. The Recreation District helps fund many important projects. There are more Mad River Path partners who should be listed here, but the concept is clear that it takes a diverse array of people and organizations to make the Mad River Path a success.
What the next new sections of the Mad River Path will look like is still to be finalized, but what’s for certain is that the valley’s landowners and community members are the future of our region’s expanding and improving trail network. For more information about the Mad River Path and a trail map, visit madriverpath.org.
This was written by MRP Board Member, David Ellison, and Executive Director, Ross Saxton.