Sadly, the ski season is over. I know I may be in the minority
expressing a thought like that, but I am not an avid mountain
biker. The snow is gone and now the rain is our favorite thing to
complain about whenever good conversation wanes. For all of us that
just spent the last six months under the influence of skiing and
riding bliss, the spring brings about a change in daily sport and a
shift of gears in our daily athletic output. I have spent some time
in the saddle of a mountain bike at Pine Hill, but I do not feel
the excitement that I see in the eyes of the riders that spend time
on the Pine Hill Park trail system. Luckily, there is more than
just great single track for riding at Pine Hill.
Pine Hill Park is nestled in a quiet corner of the city of
Rutland. Its trailhead begins in the Giorgetti Athletic Complex.
The Park is about 300 acres large, with a manicured single track
that loops and climbs and races downhill for 16 miles. The Park is
open to walkers and runners, and hikers as well. And yes, when the
snow returns, snowshoeing. Most often during the spring and summer,
I am in the category of hikers. I bring my dog Sunny with me and
walk around the designated hiking trails. Dogs must be in control
at all times at the Park, but they are very welcome to be there.
But don't forget to pack out what you pack in. That goes for your
The hiking trails are the first set of trails you come to as
soon as you begin walking up the trail head. As you are crossings
the first wooden bridge of the day, a huge glacial drop stone
captures all of your attention to your right, and it is aptly
called Elephant Rock. This is where the hiking trails begin. There
are three loop trails that are near impossible to be lost on. The
Lower, Middle, and Upper Giorgetti Loop trails keep you tramping
through the shade with trees all around. A good place to stroll
with your favorite pet or run some laps. Beyond the enormous
Elephant Rock, you may choose to follow the Escalator Trail on your
bike, and then the choices become many.
Some trails are bike or pedestrian use only. Be sure of where
you are, and of course be courteous to each other whether you are
on two feet or two wheels. The Park has plenty of acres for
everyone. Once you are peddling up into the larger park area, the
single track provides as much fun and challenge as you can make for
yourself. There are trails with names like The Sore Elbow and
Droopy Muffin. There is the Stegosaurus and Upper and Lower Ledges
Trail. You can spin your way straight up the Pond Road which will
take you to Rocky Pond, or take as many trails as you want to put
together to reach the same objective. Rocky Pond is a great place
to take a break and grab a snack. A good size pond to sit next to
in the sun.
Besides the well maintained single track, there are a number of
beautiful wooden bridges that have been constructed along the way.
There is the 100 foot suspension bridge on Overlook Trail and the
hourglass bridge on Stegosaurus. There are more bridges that seem
to come out of nowhere on the trail. Just when you thought that the
single track was in good shape, you get to ride for a smooth moment
or two across a wooden bridge.
Rocky Pond is not the only destination to be achieved at the
park. There is the summit view on Droopy Muffin, and the 1920's
rock quarry in the northeast corner of the Park. Like I said, there
is more than just mountain biking to be enjoyed. Here and there
along the trail there are places to get a view of Rutland that you
can't get anywhere else. Even a bench or two to sit and enjoy
At the trail head, housed in the Giorgetti Athletic Complex,
resides the bike shop. Doug Earle is the manager, bike maintenance,
and rental guy. He does it all. It is the second season of the bike
shop and Doug says that the shop "has everything you need to fix
your bike on the spot to get you right back out on the trail." Doug
was fixing a tire while I talked with him. Besides replacement
parts, there were biking pants and shirts for sale. New brake pads,
water bottles, trail maps, you name it. A small shop with all you
need. There are also hard tail rental bikes. These are bikes with
front suspension. Helmets are also available for rent. The shop is
open Wednesday thru Friday, 12:00-6:00, and Saturday and Sunday,
Of course the Park could not be in the beautiful shape that it
is in without the volunteers to maintain it. This building and
maintenance of the Park is completed by the Pine Hill Partnership.
It is a non-profit organization formed to steward the 300 acre
park. Through the cooperation of the Rutland Recreation Department,
the Partnership coordinates with various local businesses,
individuals, schools, and organizations, to maintain the Park that
they all put together with hard labor from an all volunteer work
force. And they are not done yet. Pine Hill is always getting
bigger and better. There is an ongoing effort to work with local
land owners to expand the Park to make even more miles of single
track. And presently construction is being done on a wooden "berm"
on the Underdog Trail. Think of a high-banked corner that you can
get up nice and high on with the right amount of speed.
You do not need to be a five day a week rider to enjoy Pine Hill
Park, but if you are, then you can capture some daily riding bliss
at the Park. As soon as the sun comes up, you can peddle up the
trail past the flower laden Pine Hill Park sign that indicates the
trail head. Spin right under the vintage bicycle that resides at
the top of a very large tree stump, and make your way onto 16 miles
of trail right in Rutland's back yard.
Rutland has not always been known as a mountain biking
destination, but Pine Hill Park is changing that idea with every
year as the park gets bigger and better. Load up your bike or good
running or hiking shoes and get to know the trails at Pine
The Park is open from dawn to dusk. For more information about
the Pine Hill Park got to: pinehillpark.org.