Pine Hill Park
A number of my friends told me that I had to check out Pine Hill Park in Rutland VT. I live in Southeastern Massachusetts, way down in Southeastern Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. So taking a four and a half hour ride to Rutland Vermont is not something that I undertake lightly.
Well, it was worth it! Pine Hill Park has one of the best purpose built trail systems that I’ve ever seen. To say the trails are fun is totally inadequate. To say that they’re well maintained doesn’t even come close. To say that the walled berms on the downhills flow into each other doesn’t compare to actually experiencing them. You have to go there yourself.
On the way into the park you’re welcomed by a friendly “bicycle” sign pointing to the trails. A large signboard at the trailhead has a map of the trails and current information. You’d do best to print out a copy of the map. Intersections come quick and fast and without a map, or a guide, you’ll miss out on many of the best trails.
Pine Hill Park is 300 acres with 16 miles of trails. Owned by the City of Rutland Vermont and managed by the Rutland Recreation Department and the Pine Hill Partnership it’s a co-operative effort by the community, citizens, schools and agencies to create the best possible trail system for everyone to use.
Volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of man, woman and child hours not to mention many thousands of dollars in materials and supplies to build one of the most unique trail networks in the country. Certainly one of, if not the, best trail system entirely within municipal limits.
Spend a few minutes on the Pine Hill Park website and you’ll see what I mean. Be sure to check out the bridges. They are unlike anything that I, or you, have ever seen out in the woods. The videos will give you an idea of what riding the trails is like.
Riding Pine Hill Park means parking at the Giorgetti Athletic Complex on the west side of town and climbing a hill. Actually, depending on the route that you choose, maybe many hills. When exploring a new area I like to, as much as possible, circumnavigate it, and then fill in the middle. This worked perfectly for me at Pine Hill Park. After some awesome singletrack and some pleasant uphill dirt roads I found myself on the upper portion of ‘Pine Hill’. The singletrack trails here meander around without too much elevation gain or loss for a very long time. On my way back to the start I managed, with a few uphill repeats, to ride all of those fast flowing bermed downhills.
A day well spent! And though I live half a day away, the first of many visits to come.
Take a close look at the map and plan your own route. You won’t be disappointed at Pine Hill Park and while you’re out on the trails you’ll marvel at how well built they are. Pay close attention to what they did and how they did it. Then bring that knowledge back to your home trails.
My favorite cross country trails included 999 to Overlook to Stegosaurus to Strong Angel, but really I enjoyed everything. There was not one trail here that I wouldn’t gladly ride again.
My biggest grins came when I combined the downhills Halfpipe and Exit Strategy. A combination I enjoyed so much I did it three times. (I would have done it again if rain hadn’t driven me off the trails.)
I could rave on and on but you won’t believe me until you experience this place yourself. Put Pine Hill Park on your personal bucket list!
Looking for a longer ride? Check out the map for the Carriage Trail. It runs right through Pine Hill Park and can add another 5 miles of somewhat challenging trails to your ride.
Accommodations: Rutland is a thriving metropolis, there are almost too many motels to count and food and drink options are endless.
Nearby: Did I mention that Rutland is only 20 minutes away from Pittsfield Vermont, home of the great Green Mountain Trail system? Why not come up for a weekend? http://www.gmtrails.org/