Saturday, January 31, 2009

Intervale offers groomed ski trails

Burlington Free Press
January 31, 2009
By Lauren Ober
Photo by Glenn Russell

One of the more precious things about living in Burlington is the prevalence of cross-country skiers making tracks around town in the winter. People in Burlington ski to work, to the grocery store, to the movies and anywhere else that the snow allows.

Now, thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, those on skinny skis now have a dedicated groomed trail on which to explore the city.

Recently, volunteers with Local Motion, a bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group in the region, began grooming a Nordic ski trail in the city’s Intervale from Intervale Compost to the Ethan Allen Homestead. The 2.5-miles of corduroy wind through the Intervale’s many farms and remains relatively flat for length of the trail.

The trail is by no means like those at Trapp Family Lodge or other Nordic touring centers, said Local Motion’s executive director Chapin Spencer, but it provides an opportunity for people to be active close to home for free.

“Our hope is to get more folks engaged, especially when so many people are sedentary,” Spencer said.

The idea for a groomed Nordic trail in the city was born after two Local Motion volunteers, Jeff Fellinger and Andrew Swayze, approached Spencer about more winter recreation opportunities in Burlington. Local Motion had been looking for ways of expanding its winter offerings, Spencer said, and groomed trails seemed like a great option.

The organization purchased a used snow machine with a homemade tracksetting tiller for $3,100. Local Motion is in the process of raising money for the equipment. Spencer said they’re about two-thirds of the way toward their goal for their project.

Three volunteers are trained to use tracksetter and weather-willing, they go out every other day to set the tracks. At the moment, the snow machine is being persnickety, so the trails might not get groomed for the next few days, Spencer said. But any skiers interested in conditions on the trail can check for up-to-date information.

The one-year demonstration project will continue next year assuming feedback from community members is positive. So far, it has been. In the two weeks that the trail has been groomed, Spencer said he’s received several e-mails from skiers, both competitive and recreational, praising the city’s newest fitness fare.

With the grooming, the Intervale trail is now fully multi-use year-round. That is always how it was meant to be, Spencer said.

“That is the purpose of the place,” Spencer said. “It’s still a community park. People can walk, run their dogs, cross-country ski. There aren’t many areas that allow you to do all of that in one place.”

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or

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