Mountain biking in Vermont has changed considerably over the last decade and is now Vermont's fastest-growing form of outdoor recreation. In 2022 alone, TrailForks counted over 580,000 ride logs, more than double their pre-pandemic number. Vermont Mountain Bike Association
(VMBA) has also grown into the country's largest statewide MTB advocacy group, wrapping up last year with nearly 10,000 members - equivalent to 1.5% of the Vermont population. With this incredible growth in profile, presence, and impact - those at the helm of VMBA acknowledged the need for a new long-term plan to chart a course that harnesses this growth and ensures we retain the magic and character of Vermont trail riding.Vermont mountain biking trails
Photo by Mark Clement - Richmond Mountain Trails
The Board and staff sat down in early 2022 to revisit VMBA’s Mission and Vision, culminating in modest but important updates to both Statements. With these in place as a ‘north star,’ VMBA leadership collected input from the organization’s 29 Chapters, listened to partners, and analyzed data from their annual Member Surveys. Based on these sources, they then mapped out the major challenges in the way of well-planned, accessible, and progressive trail systems state-wide and a future where mountain biking is at the center of healthy, economically vibrant, and environmentally sustainable communities statewide.
Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur - Burke Mountain Resort
With this long list of ideas, desires, challenges, and opportunities, the Board and staff hammered out seven major goals across Trails, Advocacy, Community, and the Organization. That’s right, TACO:Trails:
1. Steward a statewide network of accessible, well-planned, progressive, and sustainable trailsAdvocacy:
2. Move public-access recreational trails out of Act 250 and into an appropriate oversight model
3. Acknowledge landowners by incorporating public-access trails into the Current Use programCommunity
4. Establish an informed ridership that knows where, when, and how to ride
5. Count the majority of those who regularly use Vermont’s trails as active VMBA Members
6. Significantly increase youth, non-male, BIPOC, and adaptive representation in MTB ridershipOrganization:
7. Run a thriving, sustainable organization that attracts and retains talent and develops our Chapters.
You can check out a visual summary of the plan and the entire document on www.vmba.org
. Those interested are also invited to attend VMBA’s virtual Annual Meeting on 3/23 to learn more; details can be found on the Events page
on vmba.org. About VMBA
Through a family of 29 unified Chapters, the Association carries out its mission to ensure the sustainability of mountain biking in Vermont and thoughtfully promote exceptional riding experiences for all through advocacy, education, and community-driven stewardship. VMBA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The Chapter model and approach to state-level advocacy is a uniquely effective combination that meaningfully links the perspectives of individual riders to the Association’s work with state leadership. With nearly 10,000 members, VMBA is a cornerstone of Vermont’s outdoor community, advocating for public land access, private landowner protections, modernized policy, and sustainably constructed trails.
There's is lots of gnar still being built!
Meanwhile out n back has gotten more blown and challenging over the years.
If you're bored go check out the stuff off mojo, poke around there are several lines down. I'd say that should cover the needs of an 'accessible and progressive' trail network.
I think the end result of this movement on the more popular trail systems is that trails are going to become more divided by skill level and the standard for "green" trails are going to basically look like fun park rides for kids. Previously, you could expect blue/green trails to have a lot of diversity of features and skill levels - some easier stuff punctuated by more challenging stuff. That, to me, is more "inclusive" of different skill levels.
With respect to the bridges you taken truly green riders who have spent a handful of riders on an MTB thru there pre updates? Almost every rider I have has been terrified of them. Again this should be a green trail designed to build confidence. I'm fine with a few being made easier. And tbh the rollers are larger now which means a bigger jump for more experienced riders. If ya want to challenge yourself limit yourself to between the screw lines. Difficulty does not need to be high consequence.
I get what you are saying and agree that networks should not solely be separated by difficulty. Look at Cochran's there's maybe 20 minutes worth of green trails. I guess roosters is a blue. Other than that... I'd call everything else advanced level. The lower half of skullys have some real tight lines despite the top being more manicured. Which really it just rides better and is no easier.
I get it but let's keep the bigger picture in mind.
That said, for now, as things dry out and everyone spreads out, I agree that there's still a lot of advanced stuff like Cochran's, Perry Hill, Bolton, etc. A lot of stuff at Bolton is downright scary and beyond my comfort level. And not all improvements are following the same trend and make more sense to me. Like the work they did to make the initial uphill at Perry Hill much easier makes total sense to me and improves the overall experience.
I do worry, however, that as these systems get more popular, the calls for "accessibility" will only increase and spread out to much beloved trail systems.
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