By Gordon Dritschilo
KILLINGTON — With a little more state money, the town’s network of mountain-biking trails will get a little bigger this year.
The state Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation announced last week that Killington has been awarded a $45,000 grant through the recreational trails program. Kim Peters, the town’s recreation director, said the money will go toward a multi-year, $300,000 project that will eventually result in a 15-mile trail network.
“We have two miles finished,” she said. “It was rideable last year.”
The existing trails are off Route 100, about two miles from the intersection with Route 4.
“We’re on the east side, currently working, and our goal is to get into the west side either this summer or next summer,” Peters said. “This summer, we expect to get to Kent Pond.”
She said the portion west of Route 100 will eventually be a large loop toward Gifford Woods.
“The Killington Resort offers the downhill mountain biking. This is more of a Pine Hill look,” she said, referring to the Pine Hill Park trail in Rutland.
Peters said the town has $20,000 allotted for the project in the current budget, and the Killington Mountain Bike Club raised another $25,000.
Ben Colona, president of the Killington Mountain Bike Club, said the first mile is an “introductory” loop.
“Very flat,” he said. “Very little elevation gain or loss. Not threatening.”
The second mile is another loop, he said, that is a bit harder, but still beginner-friendly.
“Our whole thought process is to start with beginners because there is not a lot of beginner terrain out there.”
As they cross Route 100, Colona said, they will add three to four miles of intermediate and advanced terrain.
“More rocks, maybe a little more elevation change,” he said. “Within the next couple years, we’ll have all the skill sets dialed in.”
Mountain biking has figured prominently in the recent discussions about marketing the region collectively.
“It connects well with our strategy of growing recreational opportunity in the region,” Lyle Jepson, executive director of Rutland Economic Development Corp., said of the new trails. “It adds one more outstanding asset to what we see as a growing list of assets.”
Jepson said mountain bikers were a segment of the tourist market the local region could more effectively tap into.
“It’s going to bring in revenue, no doubt,” he said, “and hopefully some of the people that are coming here are going to want to live here.”