The Mad River Riders were recently awarded a $35,000 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant from the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation for the new 2-mile Evolution II trail. The grant will help complete an intermediate connection from Tucker Hill Road to the Enchanted Forest trailhead in Camel’s Hump State Forest to the Revolution trailhead at American Flatbread in Waitsfield. Construction is scheduled to start in mid-June. The cost of the project is $55,000.
The federally funded, state-run program chose the Evolution II project based on previously successful projects from the Mad River Riders with a strong history of creating fun, sustainable, accessible, year-round, multi-use trails. Over the last 15 years, the Mad River Riders has earned several RTP grants and has used the support to upgrade several trails like Enchanted Forest, Chain Gang and Catamount, and build the Evolution I, Tootsie Roll, Suki's Alley and Amenta's Way trails.
The impacts of the RTP grants and the work that the Mad River Riders have on the economy of the Mad River Valley are notable. The Blueberry Lake and the Lareau Farm/Camel's Hump State Forest trail networks alone attract more than 70,000 annual visits, with an estimated $4 million spent locally at restaurants, lodging, retail, groceries and gas in the Mad River Valley. The Evolution II trail will provide the link to the top of Camel’s Hump State Forest that was extended two years ago from the Revolution trail by Evolution I, opening even more of The Valley's fun terrain to a wider variety of visitors and families.
Other projects planned for 2019 are a major reroute/extension of Hell Hill/Purgatory called Swell Hill near Eurich Pond and an extension of the Busternut trail in Camel's Hump State Forest to Butternut Hill Road, both of which will further the fun links between Sugarbush’s lift-served trail network at Lincoln Peak and The Valley floor. The opening of Swell Hill is scheduled for National Trails Day, June 1, 2019, at the Sugarbush Inn. The goal of the Mad River Riders is to create a fully connected network of high-quality, sustainable, multi-use trails that provide variety, accessibility and fun while highlighting the natural beauty and culture of the entire Mad River Valley watershed and beyond.
Upcoming events for 2019 include the Cranko de Mayo, the Mad River Valley’s 30-mile Gravel Grinder (register at BikeReg.org) on Sunday, May 5; and several spring trail cleanup days to get ready for hiking and biking and to build new trails like Swell Hill and Evolution II. Check the calendar at madriverriders.com.
The Mad River Riders are a founding chapter of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association and have official partnerships with the USFS-Green Mountain National Forest, VT-Forests, Parks & Recreation, the Mad River Valley Recreation District, the towns of Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren, the Catamount Trail Association, Mad River Path Association, VAST, the Vermont Land Trust, Trust for Public Land and numerous private landowners, yielding one of the broadest coalitions of landowners, land managers and recreation and conservation groups in the U.S.