By Laurie Thompson, On behalf of the Trails Committee
Charlotte Trails provide the key to non-motorized transportation and recreation in our town. The trails keep Charlotte connected and offer townspeople a safe, off-road way to stay active and move easily through the community—walking, biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Charlotte is fortunate to have loop trails— Pease Mountain, Plouffe Lane, Raven Ridge, Williams Woods, Wildlife Refuge, and the West Village Loop Trail in every part of town. Also, the Town Link Trail, with 2.5 miles completed with gravel, and several more miles of mowed and dirt path available. Townspeople are able to use this safe, off-road trail to reach many public places of interest around town.
Since its start in 2003, the Trails Committee has taken an active role in creating a vision of alternative transportation and recreation for Charlotte. An integrated trail system that links each area of the town for pedestrian, bicycle and ski travel has been supported by a variety of community groups and planning documents in Charlotte for over 20 years. The Trails Committee was created to take this vision and work to implement the trail system. The Trails Committee provides leadership for the effort, facilitating the linkage of new and established neighborhoods with places of interest throughout the Town.
The Trails Committee is continually working to:
- Provide technical advice to inform the Selectboard’s decisions on new trails to be built.
- Provide trail linkages to important public areas and publicly owned properties and neighborhoods.
- Minimize disturbance of sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat.
- Make Charlotte more attractive to would-be residents, including young families, which are needed to sustain our community. Towns similar to Charlotte all over Vermont are competing for new residents, and many have been out in front in establishing robust trail systems.
- Help address resident concerns about walking and biking on busy roads, and the increased worry—as seen in FPF posts—about speeding on our roads.
- Through a variety of educational and other activities, promote the public’s understanding of the location, purpose and use policy of public trails.
Here are a few of the more recent accomplishments of the Charlotte Trails Committee:
- The State Park Road section of the Town Link Trail is now complete, creating a beautiful 2.5 miles of bike/pedestrian/ski trail, from Mt. Philo State Park through Cohousing, including the underpass under Route 7.
- The Town voted overwhelmingly to approve funding for trails in 2020 and 2021. This funding supports the continued build-out of our trail network, which is part of the Town Plan and has been approved by the majority of voters.
- Since 2014, the Trails Committee has received $90,000 in grant funding, in addition to in-kind donations of bridges, sign work, and the creation of a map of all town trails.
- A steering committee with members from the Selectboard, Planning, Conservation, Trails, Recreation, Tree Warden, Road Commissioner, and townspeople worked together to offer the Selectboard guidance on potential pathways for the Town Link Trail.
- New signs have been put up, especially on the Town Link Trail and the Village Loop Trail, to make wayfinding easier.
- During these Covid times, more Charlotters than ever are out using all our trails. Maintenance on these trails is more important than ever these days, and the Trails Committee has added more maintenance days these past few years.
Thanks to the support of the Charlotte community, the Trails Committee will continue to maintain and build the Charlotte Town Link Trail, a 14-mile non-motorized, multi-use path from East Charlotte to Mt. Philo through West Charlotte to the Charlotte Beach, connecting points of interest within our town. And the Trails Committee will continue to maintain our existing loop trails, as well as apply for grants, and fundraise to supply additional funds for building and maintaining our trails.
Connections—from one important public area to another around town, and to neighbors and neighborhoods— that’s what Charlotte Trails is all about. The work of the Trails Committee brings our town together and provides safe transportation and recreation systems for all to use. The Trails Committee, including all the volunteers who have been committee members over the years, is grateful for the support and encouragement received from so many townspeople over the years.
Come make connections on the Charlotte Trails.
For maps of our Charlotte Trails, click here.