ST. ALBANS — Take a walk at Hard’ack/Aldis Hill and you may notice the new kiosks and signage guiding your way on the trails. For those, the community has local mountain biker Andy Crossman to thank.
Crossman coordinated with Hard’ack, Aldis Hill Trust, the Franklin County Mountain Bike Club (of which he is an officer), St. Albans Recreation and RiseVT to gather funding and support to move the project forward.
When asked what motivated him to take on this project, Crossman says, “Surveys conducted of Hard’ack users noted that a lack of signage and directions made access difficult. Imagine taking a family of kids there for the first time, and not knowing where to go, or if you were suddenly on a steep incline and ended up on the wrong side of the hill with small children. Even locals who ‘know’ the hill tell me they were not always confident they knew where the trails were taking them.”
A local company, After Action Builds, worked with Crossman to design and build the signs. They opted for a more rustic design that blends in with the natural landscape. Students at Northwest Technical Center’s Outdoor Technology program added the finishing touches so that the signs could be installed by volunteers.
Crossman credits having a plan in place and communicating with all the stakeholders and users as vital.
“Our power together exceeds anything we could do individually. That takes some patience and willingness to listen,” he said.
Crossman has a lifetime love of outdoor sports and truly enjoys mountain biking. He appreciates the combination of endurance, strength, coordination, and mental concentration that mountain biking offers.
“It fits easily around anyone’s lifestyle, and now is something I am sharing with my grandkids who have started riding, as well as members of our community who have become friends,” Crossman said.
He notes that Vermont is experiencing an increase in mountain bikers, with more women enjoying the sport and children’s riding groups becoming more popular.
“There is nothing better than sharing the outdoors beauty of Vermont with a diverse and multi-generational community in a healthy activity like biking,” he said.
If you decide to take a spin on your mountain bike, Crossman recommends Aldis Hill’s “Broken Wheel” trail, which he describes as “a long winding sidehill trail across the face of the Western slope, then connecting to the switchbacks on ‘Z-trail.’ The reward of a hard ride up makes this long downhill run a hoot.” He also recommends the new loops at the St. Albans Town Forest for a fun flowy ride.
Crossman is recently retired and embraces all that St. Albans has to offer.
“Our family chose to live in St. Albans for the people here, its quality of life, the schools, a beautiful lakefront, the ice rink and facilities at Collins-Perley Complex, and local businesses at human scale. I can’t think of a better place to live. I have traveled all over the world, and always appreciate what we have here in St. Albans when I return. It’s a very special place,” Crossman said.
With the completion of the new Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, he predicts a big increase in the numbers of visitors coming to the area. He suggests that some may choose to stay.
“Our new trails are also a draw to the quality of life many families are looking for. Our community is a great place to live because many people are committed to making it better and are willing to take personal initiative to build healthy lifestyles and opportunities for our children and fellow citizens. Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?” he said.