In East Montpelier, keep the Montpelier bike path going up to U-32 and on across town towards where the rail trail takes off at Route 14. Let's throw in some convenient trailheads with parking and access to to the Winooski River and a couple of mountain bike loops just for fun.
Download maps, photos, project details and a dash of inspirational dreaming: Cross Vt Trail Project Map and Vision (PDF).
The Bridge is Built! A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the bridge and the first section of new trail was celebrated June 4, 2022. The trail project is ongoing - read updates here. And - just for fun - see the crazy drone footage from last July of the amazing launch across the water.
Check back to this page for updates as things progress.
The fundraising campaign to build out the full project - the Winooski Bridge and five miles of new trail - is done! We kicked off this public fundraising campaign November 2014, and as of February 2022 we have reached the goal of all the funding we believe we will need for this project. Amazing, thank you everyone! Now it's down to elbow grease. Of course we are always accepting donations for the trail beyond this project - all contributions will go to work! Details here for project phases, budgets and fundraising status.
The biggest story here is that a truly grassroots citizen group is pulling off a major infrastructure improvement. This is made possible by VTrans and Federal Highway Administration believing in us and supporting the project development over many years. They provided several large federal grants that paid for 80% of the cost of the bridge and some related expensive structures. But then the responsibility passed to CVTA to somehow pull together the engineering, permitting, landowner permissions and (this is the biggest part) the 20% of the cost that must come from local donors. We succeeded because hundreds of local individuals, businesses and municipalities all joined in to make construction of this bridge happen. Thank you to all!
The larger vision is to connect the regional trail network (Montpelier Bike Path, Central Vt Regional Path through Berlin, Barre and Barre Town, and the East Montpelier Trail) up to U-32 School and on across East Montpelier to where the Montpelier and Wells River Rail Trail begins at Route 14 (where the Cross Vt Trail continues in various forms on to the New Hampshire border). At the same time the project is providing immediate access to the Winooski River for fishing, paddling and just walking through conserved land along the banks, as well as new trailheads, parking and other amenities, along with some single track Mountain Bike style loop trails.
Construction of all the trails that will eventually flow through the new Winooski Bridge is underway and is being completed incrementally over the course of 2021 - 2024. You can help! There are many places where volunteer effort will be make a real difference. But the Winooski Bridge is by far the most expensive and difficult single component of the whole effort, and we are more than excited to have done the hardest part first.
Route 2 in East Montpelier is a high speed (depending on traffic), busy road and truck route. The shoulders are wide, but often used by cars and trucks as turning or passing lanes. The state wide Cross Vermont Trail utilizes scenic roads often, to connect together existing sections of trail. But this road segment here has long been identified as the worst on our route, and so we are tackling the biggest problem, now.
Build a new, accessible trail, on conserved land in the woods and along the river, away from the road as far as possible. It's a big job. Especially since it includes heavily engineered structures - like the Winooski River bridge. And it's not just an engineering challenge. The trail design also involves the input of numerous land owners, as well as being environmentally sensitive and sustainable. The end result will be a permanent, conserved greenway corridor that families will enjoy for generations to come.
This keystone project is part of CVTA's larger effort to have a complete, off road route from Montpelier to Groton. We are talking now with landowners about the best places to put new trail, and hope to have many new projects to tell you about in the coming few years. For context, you can see the current alignment of the Cross Vermont Trail through this area on Maps 4, 5 and 6 of our trail guide. (Spoiler alert - it's mostly on the shoulder of Rte 2.) These projects will be a lot of work, too - but much less expensive, frankly, as they will be built incrementally by CVTA directly, with help from conservation corps members and volunteers.
The fundraising goal for construction of the big projects has been met, and now we are looking ahead to be ready to work with landowners across the State to increase our total off road mileage in the coming years. Having funds available to be ready to "take a yes" when landowners are ready to give it will make a big difference in making the full Cross Vermont Trail a reality.
We are lucky that at times people choose to make significant investments in the future of the Cross Vermont Trail by making a major gift. We are happy to talk together with supporters to make the process easy. Multi year pledges, gifts in the form of appreciated stock, and other considerations - let us know what might make the most sense for you.
If you would like, major gifts can be commemorated on the trail - on a bench at a scenic vista, with a plaque on a major structure. Your donation can help make real an important part of the trail, which can be dedicated to the memory of someone important to you. Let us know if this is something you'd be interested in talking more about.
Download detailed project description: Cross Vt Trail Project Map and Vision (PDF).
UPSHOT: We're excited to have succeeded in raising local matching funds to Build the Bridge and do the hardest part first. The Bridge is built, and construction of the related trails is under full steam - but fundraising is ongoing to be ready to continue to create new miles of off road trail, across the State, in the coming years.
The bridge is by far the biggest portion of the project cost. The money has been raised and now spent - amazing, thank you everyone! The bridge, together with the approach trail for a few hundred feet on each side, has been completed by CCS Constructors as of mid November 2021. We have done some site clean in the spring, and are ready for the official ribbon cutting to open the bridge to the public June 4, 2022.
This short section spanning the Berlin, Barre Town and East Montpelier town lines required relocating and replacing the existing highway guardrail and other work within the area of the highway. The need for specialized contractors makes this the second biggest component of the total project cost. Courtland Construction completed this work November of 2021.
Describing it from west to east - We have built a new trailhead parking lot at Gallison Hill Road, across from the Civic Center. The Powerplant Road (the old railbed) is open to the public, for non-motorized use, now all the way out to the Winooski Bridge (Phase 1). (Over time we will will do spot work to improve the treadway on the railbed, too.) Beyond the bridge a new section of trail has been built through the forest, overlooking the river, to connect from the bridge to the "short but expensive section beside the highway, where the new guardrail has been built" (Phase 2). Finally, we have upgraded a remnant section of old 1950s version Route 2 to extend the path to conclude (for now) at a new trailhead parking lot. Dubois Construction completed the Route 2 trailhead parking in August of 2021. Final touches of construction are underway during 2022, but this segment is now a useable stretch of trail and was formally open to the public at the bridge ribbon cutting ceremony June 4, 2022.
Throughout 2022 and early 2023 we are building a long section of universally accessible bike path, winding across the forested bluff making a connection to the school. In addition, a new single track mountain bike style trail will form a loop with the Cross Vt Trail and with the existing U-32 cross country trails. This phase is being built by CVTA, with youth conservation corps crews and with significant opportunities for volunteer involvement.
A variety of smaller trails are being cleared between the new Cross Vermont Trail and the banks of the river to provide access for boating, fishing, and just enjoying the water. The Cross Vt Trail itself will become a portage for long distance paddlers to get past the Winooski Hydro powerdam. This phase is being built by CVTA together with partners including VT Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Things are underway now and will be completed summer 2022.
Starting in 2023 we will be building the trail east from the new trailhead parking on Route 2, alongside the river, off to the side of the highway in the trees, to a road crossing near "Vermont Country Campers" RV dealership. At that point we will head cross country away from Route 2 to rejoin the old railbed and end up at Route 14 where the existing Cross Vt Trail is already on the railbed.
Right at the end of the season we were able to return to making progress on the new trail in the U-32 Forest. Adding gravel and raking it out. However, we basically lost over half of the 2023 construction season to flood repair, and so the completion of this next section of trail is pushed back to summer of 2024. Slow and steady gets you there we always say.
Storm cleanup at the Winooski Bridge project, proceeding apace.
Have finished cleaning up between Winooski Bridge and Route 2 trailhead at Hidden Dam, adding more gravel and smoothing/compacting the many small washouts.
Note that the slump of the trail behind the guardrail next to Route 2 is still not repaired. This is a larger project that involves the highway. It will be worked on by VTrans later this Fall.
Two steps forward. Two additional, smaller, elements of the Winooski Bridge project are completed and fully open for public use.
The Penstock Trail is a simple walking trail along the bank of the river which forms a loop with the railtrail. It is a moderately difficult trail which is narrow and has uneven footing with some steep spots. This is all between Gallison Hill Road and the big trail bridge, downhill from the railbed, in the woods.
And at the Hidden Dam trailhead we have done some summer clean up at the site, finalized the trailhead signage, and completed the generally accessible (gradual, smooth gravel treadway) ramp trail down to a dramatic view of the waterfall at the old dam.
Big flood. The basic work done by CVTA the last couple years did OK - especially the big bridge! That said, we will need to redo a month or so of work to get back to where we were on July 9. This will be underway by the fall, after other state wide flood clean up is done. Meanwhile, the recently opened new trail is CLOSED - sorry! Especially the section along the shoulder of Route 2 with the new guardrail. The highway shoulder here is slumping into the river. Repairs, lead by VTrans, may take some time.
The series of smaller wooden bridges in the U-32 School Forest are complete, and we have brought in fill material to finish smoothing out the trail grade.
Next up - hauling in, raking out and compacting crushed stone to make the trail surface.
We've started work in the woods for the 2023 field season.
First job - finish the trail through the U-32 School Forest leading west from the Winooski Bridge. You'll see us out there pretty steadily the next couple months, finishing small bridges, placing gravel to make the trail surface, and finishing up a bunch more railings.
Later in the year we'll finish the connection trails that go up to the school, and well as all the access trails along the Winooski River. Hopefully before next school year starts - that's the current goal.
Thanks to Norwich students, doing service projects over Thanksgiving break, who spread seed, straw and eroson control blankets to close up, for now, the trail project in the U-32 Forest.
We'll be back in the spring to complete the trail and get it officially open by early summer. Meanwhile, giving thanks for a big year of trailbuilding, whew!
Finished the basic excavation of the Cross Vermont Trail segment in the U-32 Forest. Started on the accessible connector trail that will climb the hill to U-32 School. Didn't quite get all the way up the hill this fall, and will be back to finish the excavation work in the spring.
Two more wooden bridges are slated to be built on the Cross Vermont Trail in the U-32 Forest. Lumber is staged at the work site. A group of U-32 students, under direction of Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, began setting the sills and assembling stringers. We'll return in the spring to complete bridge assembly (give a shout if you'd like to help with this carpentry job.)
Throughout out October we continued full steam on the excavation of the new segment of Cross Vermont Trail through the U-32 School Forest.
Meanwhile, students from U-32 and Spaulding under the direction of Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, together with local volunteers, completed the railings on the approach to the Winooski Bridge.
Back to work with some larger equipment. Digging up from the big bridge into the woods to connect to U-32.
Thanks to a series of volunteer groups, have caught up on detail work along the built sections of trail - railings and drainage features.
The first section of the U-32 Forest trail is getting finishing touches. It's useable now as a small loop with the railbed. Work is ongoing to connect the forest trail up to the school and back down to the Winooski bridge.
The Cross Vermont Trail Association (CVTA) formally opened and dedicated the new Winooski Bridge in East Montpelier and Berlin on Saturday June 4. The new bridge is keystone link in a growing regional trail network. On June 4 one and half miles of new trail on either side of the bridge were also officially opened, extending the Montpelier Bike Path from Gallison Hill Road east along the old Montpelier & Wells River railroad bed for one mile, then across the new bridge and further on an additional half mile of newly constructed trail upstream along the Winooski River to a new trailhead parking lot on Route 2.
The ribbon cutting was attended by over 70 people who gathered on the bridge (it held!) and cheered as the large red ribbon was cut with lopping shears. Additional people, including many children and people of all ages, walked or biked by during the ceremony, as the new trail is already proving to be an attraction to local trail users.
Keynote speeches were given by Haley Pero from the office of Senator Sanders; Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder; Director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (and trail building volunteer) Gus Seelig; and Mayor of Montpelier Anne Watson. They emphasized that this was a true grass roots project with a small non profit organization, the CVTA, coordinating and pulling together a jigsaw puzzle of public funding from federal, state and municipal sources, with CVTA raising matching funds of $350,000 in private money contributed by hundreds of local individuals.
Finally, a brief ceremony dedicated the bridge to Esther Salmi and Tom Smith. Their memorial plaque reads: "Both were involved in the greater Montpelier community, enjoying cycling, running, hiking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Their commitment to fitness and respect for the environment live on in those who appreciate the outdoors." The bridge also memorializes John Warshow, an early and long time project supporter who, as one of the partners who created the Winooski Hydroelectric Company that reopened the power dam here and which owns the old railroad bridge abutments, was one of the first people CVTA talked with about the possibility of a trail on the old railbed.
A reproduction of an original railroad granite mile marker was unveiled. (Only 37 miles to go to Wells River!) The memorial plaques, for the people whom the bridge is in memory of, are mounted on this stone.
"It's amazing to see people out on the trail and crossing the bridge, like it's always been there" said Greg Western, Cross Vermont Trail Association Executive Director. "The past few weeks, once the physical work was done and the construction contractor was no longer on site, I have seen a regular stream of families with kids, older people on e-bikes, people casting fishing lines from the bridge, all day long."
Further trail construction is ongoing. When complete, the CVTA project will include five miles of additional trail. The new trail will connect to the U-32 school and the East Montpelier trail to the north, plus there will be new walking trails along the banks of the Winooski River for fishing, boating and just enjoying the water; and a final extension of the main bike path across East Montpelier to Route 14 where the current trail begins on the railbed and continues in various forms east across the state. For project updates and timelines go to https://crossvermont.org or call 802-498-0079. Trail users should be aware that sections of the trail still being built will be cordoned off from public access during active construction; any closed areas will be clearly marked.
Ready for a ribbon. Bridge site is cleaned up and the construction contractor CCS is all moved out, so we are ready for a dedication and opening ceremony coming up on June 4.
Official trailhead parking area near intersection of railbed and Gallison Hill Rd is completed and ready to use. In the past folks have parked various places along side the railbed, but going forward we are asking trail users to just park here at this designated spot (to keep the travel way from being blocked by parked cars.)
Back to work. We've been taking advantage of the sunny spring to finish off the trail on the east side (the Route 2 side) of the Winooski Bridge. And starting to rough in the trail through the U-32 Forest, which will be under construction throughout 2022.
Thanks also to Willey Construction for help to make the connection from the Bridge down to the railbed. In addition to the new trail through the school forest, the railbed is open to the public now for non motorized use - thanks to permanent public access easements granted by Winooski Hydro Co and Green Mountain Power.
Folks of all kinds have been exploring the new trails even while they are partially complete. It's cool.
Fundraising goal done! Trail construction under full steam 2022 and 2023.
Last December we told you about the need to raise the last leg of funding for our "big project" - to meet a challenge grant awarded CVTA by the Northern Borders Regional Commission for the last phase of the project along Route 2 and up to Route 14. This was the last of the identified needed funding to complete the full "Winooski Bridge Project" - the bridge and five miles of new trail. We are more than excited to announce that the challenge has been met!
With donations from many local individuals at the end of last year and now a major grant from the State of Vt just announced this week - we have got the budget we think we need to finish the complete trail from Gallison Hill Rd in Montpelier, up to U-32, then over the new Winooski Bridge and upstream along the Winooski River, finally cutting cross country to join the existing rail trail at Route 14.
Views from the trail along Winooski River upstream of the big bridge, and from the future trail route between Rte 2 and Rte 14 across conserved farmland.
We got across the fundraising finish line this week when CVTA was awarded a major grant of $75,000 from the State of Vt ERSA program - "Ehancement of Recreational Stewarship and Access". The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is awarding these grants to non-profit organizations and municipalities around the state for projects that will improve recreational trail stewardship, access, and accessibility. The intent of this funding is to "improve trail accessibility for this generation and generations to come, to help ensure a healthy economic recovery, from the Covid-19 crisis, with development rooted in environmental quality."
Now, it's all down to elbow grease. We will resume work this spring as soon as the weather allows, and expect to go steadily through 2022 and 2023 to complete all the planned and budgeted trail segments. Stay tuned for announcements as the project is built and opened in phases.
Summary of Upcoming Project Construction Phases:
1.) Winooski Bridge, and the trail on either side of it, out to the new Route 2 trailhead, will open late spring 2022.
2.) Trails connecting up to U-32 (and also providing access along the river) and a new trailhead at Gallison Hill Rd will open later in 2022.
3.) Finally we will build the trail the rest of the way across East Montpelier, during 2023, connecting to Route 14 where the existing trail begins on the old railbed.
A Historic Construction Season.
The Bridge is Built! Back in July we thrilled to the sight of the Winooski Bridge flying into place over the river. Since then contractor CCS Constructors have finished the abutments and all structural details, as well as the site work and the approach trail for several hundred feet on each side of the bridge.
Meanwhile, travelers along Rte 2 in East Montpelier have been seeing a flush of orange barrels and "shoulder work ahead" signs throughout October and November. This was Courtland Construction installing a new safety median rail for 650 feet beside the highway, and then a gravel path outside of the rail between the road and the river. We thank Courtland for doing such a neat job threading the eye of this very small needle needed to sneak the trail through this most difficult spot.
The current length of constructed trail is anchored by a new trailhead parking lot on Rte 2 - at the "Hidden Dam" site. DuBois Construction completed the parking lot last August, and folks have already been using it when fishing at the dam site. A crew from Northern Forest Canoe Trail came down to the Winooski to help us out in August as well, starting to put in place the side trails that will provide access to the water from the Cross Vt Trail - for angling, paddling and just enjoyment of the river.
Between and joining together the contractor built projects, CVTA is working now and next year to build the remaining trail segments. This work is smaller scale (though much longer distance) and we are getting it done with a combination of staff labor, smaller contractors, conservation corps members - and there is also plenty of opportunity for volunteers to make a difference.
Underway now and finishing in the spring we are linking the railbed from Gallison Hill Rd up to the bridge, making the new trail in the woods between the bridge and the guardrail, and cleaning off and patching up the old historic Route 2 pavement (from the old 1950s location of the highway) to be the trail from the guardrail to the new Rte 2 trailhead parking lot. All together, this is what will be opened to the public at the ribbon cutting May 2022.
See you next May for the ribbon cutting of this first portion open to the public - and stay tuned throughout 2022 and 2023 as we build and open in further phases the full project up to U-32 and across East Montpelier to Route 14!
The new guardrail along Route 2 is going in this week! Thanks to Courtland Construction for helping us "thread the needle" at this the narrowest spot between the road and the river.
Progress continues with "in the woods" trail building, starting to excavate the new trail treadway and set stones for abutments of smaller wooden bridges. There are opportunities for volunteers to make a difference, give a shout to learn more.
Abutments are complete with concrete cured and bridge bolted down. The trail approaches and site work on either side of bridge underway through the fall.
Excited to announce the award of a significant grant to help build "Phase Six" - the last leg for which we are still raising money. Big help as we ready to start building out to "the far Six" later next year. The award this week of $75,000 from Northern Border Regional Commission in federal funds gets us half way there. And a donation at the same time from a local trail supporter for $5,000 has kicked off raising the last half. We are looking forward to getting the full project built and open!
Parking lot and trailhead on Route 2, upstream of the big bridge, is under construction now.
The "in the woods" part of the larger Winooski Bridge project is underway. Thanks to our summer Americorps crew for kicking things off! Stay tuned for volunteer work opportunities. There are a number of ways volunteers will be able to make a real difference.
OVER THE RIVER
Paddling across the water, you can do it big bridge! See step by step how they lifted this giant bridge over the river.
See the whole story of the bridge install unfold through the lens of local photographer John Lazenby. Check out John's very cool image portfolio of the bridge installation day.
Or if you prefer a Yakety Sax Benny Hill style speeded up video version of the story, then check out VT Digger's youtube capturing the whole launch across the water in just one minute.
And first peek at dramatic aerial film of the launch over the river, from Montpelier photographer Jay Ericson.
Cranes are being positioned, temporary barge is placed in water. On "the big day" bridge will be suspended by cranes on both ends, balanced on the barge, while the final bolting is done to fix it in place on the abutments. A few more things to get straight before the install. Close!
The bridge has arrived! And been welcomed.
Abutments are being built now, and will be done in June. The bridge install is now forecast for later in the summer. Bridge is being fabricated out of state, then will be assembled and placed by our contractor once delivered to Vermont. Latest word from the fabricating company is to expect an early August delivery.
Going out to bid for next phase of construction in East Montpelier - getting off of Route 2.
The Winooski Bridge is being fabricated out of state, and we are waiting to hear from the fabricator for the good news that it is ready for delivery - right now planning on a late spring arrival. Once that happens, will be seeing a lot more action at the construction site.
Meanwhile, CVTA is advertising now for contractor bids to build the next phase of the big project beyond the bridge - installing a new guardrail and 650 feet of new trail at a bottleneck location where Route 2 is very close to the Winooski River. Most of our project along Route 2 will be built well off to the side of the road, in the woods and closer to the river. But in this one spot, there isn't room for that, and we have gotten permission from VTrans to build the new path right on the shoulder of the highway. For obvious safety reasons, this means installing a new (and stronger) guardrail to go between the trail and the highway traffic.
Things are quiet at the work site, sleeping under a blanket of snow. Behind the scenes, though, the construction fabricator is working away in order to be ready to deliver the bridge in the spring.
Deep foundation piles are being installed and tested. Once they are squared up, concrete pedestals can be framed and poured. Racing the weather here, but contractor still reports a chance the bridge could be delivered and installed in the first part of winter. Or if not that then next spring for sure.
Initial site prep is done. Waiting now for the arrival of specialized subcontractor to install the deep pilings that will support the bridge. Pile driving now anticipated for mid November. Actual bridge install will be some time after that . . . maybe still early Winter, but if not, then Spring for sure.
Big yellow machines are on site, "Phase 1" Winooski Bridge excavation and ground prep construction is underway.
Ceremonial Groundbreaking - great gathering and celebration by the many people who have supported the development of the project and gotten us to this point.
"Phase 1" Winooski Bridge construction contractor begins on site, reestablishing survey control points and staking out the work.