By GORDON DRITSCHILO
Pine Hill Park is getting a new trail, with work starting this summer.
When finished, the 3,800-foot trail will go from the intersection of Sore Elbow Annex and Jigsaw, coming out at the top of Upper Half Pipe.
“It’s relatively flat compared to the rest of the park,” said Shelly Lutz, who is organizing the construction effort as part of the Pine Hill Partnership. “It’ll give us more loops for less-experienced riders.”
Lutz said it will give them room to put in features such as teeter-totters or “skinnies” — 6-inch-wide rails cyclists try to balance on and ride along. She said that aside from a handful of bridges, there are not many features on the bicycle trails.
The new trail doesn’t have a name yet. “Generally, what we do is, as the trail is evolving, being built by the volunteers, a name will come to the surface,” Lutz said.
Jigsaw, for example, got its name because volunteers removed a lot of rocks while building the trail, and several got shoved into the cracks of a rock ledge. The result, Lutz said, was reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle.
“In an average day of trail-building, with volunteers, we average 10 feet per person per day,” Lutz said.
Lutz stressed that the trails are built by volunteers and the partnership does not receive a penny of taxpayer money.
“We get no money from the city,” she said. “It’s all done from private fundraising, contributions, donations, people being generous.”
In a good year, Lutz said, they raise $8,000 to $10,000.
“The Pine Hill Partnership does a great job on the trails, keeping them clean, keeping them updated,” said Brittany Malmgren, a program director for the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department.
Volunteers from the Rutland High School YES Plan — in which students participate in an alternate educational program centered on a specific subject at the end of the year — provided the bulk of the labor early on, and a group from a Christian youth organization has helped out.
“The whole trail will probably take us two years to build from start to finish,” she said. “We’ll probably put in a bail-out point so part of the trail will be rideable this year.”
The partnership’s long-term plan calls for one more trail after that — a spur off the one presently under construction. After that, Lutz said, the group may cast its eyes farther afield.
“We’re at saturation in Pine Hill Park,” she said. “The Pine Hill Partnership is exploring other possibilities in the Rutland area. I don’t want to be too specific … I don’t want to jeopardize the talks because they’ve just barely started.”
Lutz would say they were considering something involving property in Rutland Town and Mendon and there have also been talks with West Rutland about building a trail network in the town forest there.