The Town Forest in St. Albans has been a local treasure since 1953, when the land was purchased. Since then, work by locals and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has been done to create trails. Nancy Patch, the Forester for Franklin and Grand Isle County, has also done significant forestry work to create a timber management plan and a song bird habitat.
Recently, RiseVT and the Town of St. Albans pitched in to hire a consultant, Sinuosity, to create a master trail plan for the forest. The plan is to build upon existing trails and develop a new network of trails, which will apply to a variety of non-motorized activities. In an effort to enhance the opportunity for physical activities of many types and for many ages, walkers, hikers, runners, skiers, showshoers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, naturalists and school groups will be accommodated. This is a proposed plan, subject to comment and input from the public. The community will also be an asset in the building and maintenance of the trail system.
On the map, the existing trails are the wider white, blue, green and orange lines.
- Ski Trail Out to Bird Patches (White). Length: 1670 ft. (loop) plus 2830 ft. Current Trail Uses: ski, hike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Ski, hike. Description- Trail begins on old logging road with very wet sections for the first portion. Areas of bridging and reroutes may be necessary to maintain foot traffic and sustainable travel during non-frozen months.
- Logging Rd. to Saddle (White). Length: 1280 ft. Current Trail Uses: ski, hike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Ski. Description- Logging road traveling south from the main parking area. Trail continues along the boundary then cuts northwest diagonally across a wide seepy area to the saddle at the height of land.
- Road to Beaver Pond-West (Green). Length: 1365 ft. Current Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski, bike. Description-Trail begins on old, wide roadbed and travels directly north from the parking lot. Wet sections have been rerouted to better draining terrain and are a much more narrow tread.
- Road to Beaver Pond-East (Orange). Length: 1300 ft. Current Trail Uses: unknown. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, snowshoe, ski, bike. Description: Old road bed looping around from the east side of the parking lot then north the meet up with the old road to the beaver pond.
- VYCC Loop East (Blue). Length: 1865 ft. Current Trail Uses: Hikers. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Hike, bike. Description- Trail begins east of the parking on an old road bed. It cuts north, looping around to the eastern shore of the beaver pond. Recently built, this trail has a rugged character on a steep side slope. It is most suitable for advanced biking and hiking with the current trail structures.
- VYCC Loop West (Blue). Length: 1615 ft. Current Trail Uses: Hike, bike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: Hike, bike (intermediate). Description- Also recently worked on by the VYCC, this section of trail is suitable for intermediate travel with a narrow treadway and multiple rock trail structures in sections. With the exclusion of a small set of stairs it is generally suitable for more technical biking, though less technical than the Eastern Loop.
- Connector (Green). Length: 1715 ft. Current Trail Uses: walk, bike. Recommended Future Trail Uses: walk, bike. Description- The old road bed gently climbs up from the Logging Road To Saddle. Upon cresting the mixed oak forest at a small height of land it drops down and turns east through a small seep and back up to meet with the Old Road to Beaver Pond.
The new trails are the narrower lines. They include:
- Alternate Saddle Trail (Blue) Estimated Length: 1800 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run, hike, snowshoe. Description: Trail provides access to height of land when ground isn’t frozen. It would traverse and cross a low lying wet area to and provide a non-winter option to the ski trail.
- Short Trailhead Loop (Purple) Estimated Length: 1800 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run, hike Description: A loop of intermediate rocky terrain, split by the more moderate old road bed off the Connector.
- Ridge Trail (Yellow) Estimated Length: 1125 ft. Designed Trail Uses: hike, bike, snowshoe, run. Description: Trail traverses over the top of the rocky ridgeline between the parking area and the VYCC Loop East. Thin soils over a ridge of bedrock running north south create intermediate options. This trail section would provide an alternate route through hemlock covered terrain dropping down to the main road to the beaver pond at the Intro Loop intersection.
- Intro Loop (Green) Estimated Length: 660 new, plus existing and improved. Designed Trail Uses: walk, bike, snowshoe, ski, groups. Description: Loop of natural smooth natural surface or imported surface trail, 4-6’ wide to accommodate a large variety of uses.
- Top Loops (Red) Estimated Length: 3700 ft. Designed Trail Uses: bike, run. Description: These loops make use of the high rocky outcrops near the saddle at the height of land of the property. The terrain is rugged but with good drainage and interesting features. Loops may be too short to be of interest for hikers, but will be suitable for bikers and runners.
- Birdwatch Loop (Purple) Estimated Length: 1000 ft. Designed Trail Use: hike, ski. Description: This section forms a loop from the first 2 bird patches, allowing for a bird watchers, skiers and hikers to have continuous travel as opposed to a dead end before the return trip.
If you are interested in participating in this project, please let either, The Franklin County Mountain Bike Club, RiseVT or the Town of St. Albans Planner, Nathaniel Neider know. The community will be needed to help develop and maintain this network for generations to enjoy.