Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, Fairfield

Cyclists enjoy the new section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail in Fairfield this spring. The Rail Trail Celebration Ride on May 27 hopes to draw hundreds of riders to check out the trail.

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Have you explored the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail yet? 

The Rail Trail Celebration Ride set for Saturday, May 27 is the perfect opportunity. Cyclists are encouraged to ride the new section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail between Sheldon Junction and Cambridge and join a celebration in St. Albans’ Taylor Park. 

The LVRT was completed back in December, extending the entire width of Vermont from Swanton to St. Johnsbury. About a third of the trail is in Franklin County, where it intersects with the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. 

The ride between St. Albans and Cambridge is 30 miles each way, so shuttles provided by Smugglers’ Notch will be available at the following waypoints and times to transport riders who don’t want to ride the whole distance: 

  • Cambridge Junction Trailhead to St. Albans Taylor Park (stops in East Fairfield and Sheldon Junction enroute): 8:45-9:30 a.m., 10:30-11:30 a.m., 12:30-1:15 p.m. 

  • St. Albans Taylor Park to Cambridge Junction Trailhead (stops in East Fairfield and Sheldon Junction enroute): 9:30-10:30 a.m., 11:30-12:15 p.m., 1:30-2:15 p.m. 

At the trailhead in Cambridge, riders will be able to refill water bottles and pick up a snack before heading back north. Bootlegger Bikes will offer bike safety checks there as well as in St. Albans. 

Riders are encouraged to be in Taylor Park for 12:45 p.m., when speakers will talk about the importance of cycling to the local economy and the winner of the e-bike raffle will be selected. 14th Star will pour tasty brews, and Local Motion, a cycling advocacy group, will share its initiatives.

All registered participants will be entered into the raffle for a $2,000 e-bike donated by Haddad Subaru. 

The primary organizer of the ride has been Andy Crossman, president of the Franklin County Mountain Bike Club and all-around recreation advocate. 

For Crossman, the opening of the new section of trail is personal. Before moving to St. Albans, he lived in Jeffersonville, so he’s thrilled to finally see the two communities connected. 

“I am really excited about the new connection,” he said. “I believe the trail has real potential to be an economic driver.” 

That proposition will be on display during the event, as the Northwest Vermont Farmers Market will be happening simultaneously in Taylor Park. The celebration ride should draw hundreds more people to the market for live music, vendors and food trucks. 

Hungry cyclists can refuel with lunch from Mediterranean Mix, Mama Llama Bake Shop, Paisley Scoops Gelato, Natalie’s Noshes and Girls That Grow. 

Trail connection and economic possibilities 

Crossman connected with Laird MacDowell, chair of the Cambridge Trails Committee, who started working with the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers back in 2000 to turn the old railroad bed into a multi-use recreation path. 

He was successful with the section from Cambridge to Morrisville in 2016, but his real vision was to see it go the full width of the state. 

“I wasn’t sure I’d live long enough to see the whole thing,” he said. 

The sections in each county that had the most promise of being economic drivers were built first: St. Johnsbury to Danville, Morrisville to Cambridge and Sheldon Junction to Swanton. 

“What that did was it got the tourists to show up, to start using the trail and then finally the state started seeing the benefit of it, economically,” MacDowell said. 

The state then filled in the gaps, with the last sections being finished at the end of 2022. Jackie Cassino, rail trail program manager at VTrans, told the Messenger the trail between Fairfield and Fletcher is expected to be resurfaced in time for the celebration event. That section was flooded during a December storm, so construction crews will return in the next two weeks to fix it. 

She also said new signage — including mile markers, town boundaries and trail etiquette — should be in place by the end of this summer. 

And that’s just the beginning of what’s to come for the LVRT. Communities are applying for grants to build trailheads, kiosks and directional signs pointing cyclists to downtowns. Prospective business owners are buying land along the trail, and more events are bound to pop up. 

“We want to hear directly from local businesses, local municipalities in terms of their thoughts and ideas,” Cassino said. “There’s so many local initiatives to come. It’s really exciting.” 

For now, the Rail Trail Celebration Ride is set to showcase what the LVRT can do for Franklin County, economically and recreationally, when people work together and think creatively. 

Event sponsors include Franklin County Mountain Bike Club, Bootlegger Bikes, Saint Albans Messenger, Vermont Mountain Bike Association, City of St. Albans & Recreation Department, Cambridge Area Rotary, Cambridge Trails Committee, Cambridge Recreation Board, Town of St. Albans and Smugglers’ Notch Resort. 

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