Trail Policy and Mission for Millstone Trail Association (MTA)
The mission of the Millstone Trail Association is to protect, promote and enhance our natural and recreational resources. Millstone seeks to provide a safe, quality recreation experience for a diverse range of trail users while practicing sound management of its natural resources. Specific goals are to:
- Enhance the management of our trails to serve diverse needs and capabilities of visitors.
- Ensure that trails experiences are safe and enjoyable.
- Reduce costs through the use of practical and sustainable methods of maintaining trails.
Each trail system should effectively achieve the above goals while simultaneously:
- Avoiding sensitive areas
- Meeting expectations of users
- Minimizing environmental impacts
- Minimizing maintenance requirements.
Millstone contains 30+ miles for recreation including hiking, walking, jogging, mountain biking, & disc golf. Our trail system provides quality recreational opportunities and access to points of interest without diminishing the natural resources.
The primary purpose of this plan is to outline a clear protocol to the opening and closing of Millstone trails due to wet weather. Safety of our riders is our number one priority, as is protecting the sustainability of our trails and the ecological balance of the surrounding environment. Standard operating procedures exist for the opening and closing of our mountain bike trails and ensure these factors are considered.
Rain and melting snow keep many of MTA’s trails wet and muddy.
When cyclists ride on saturated soil, they cause irreversible damage and erosion to the trail and surrounding vegetation.
April 15 – Memorial Day weekend is when warm days and freezing nights wreak havoc on the trail. It’s the time when Mother Nature is in its most delicate state. Please be mindful and stay off the trails until the thaw is out of the ground and the trails have dried and hardened. One of the worst things you can do is ride –or walk– on trails before they ripen.
Trails are dynamic and change with the seasons and weather conditions. While during most of the season, the mineral soils that make up a good, hardened trail are fairly stable, spring is the most sensitive time, making the trails vulnerable to erosion and long term damage.
Frost (those pesky ice crystals that form in the upper soil cap) causes the soil to move and shift. Even the most hardened of trails loses density as frozen water molecules push and prod the mineral soils. Trails are very susceptible to damage during the freeze/thaw process. As the frost thaws and releases water, the dirt resettles and realigns in a nice muddy mix and the organic matter from last fall’s leaf litter blends in with the mineral soil to begin to create a new generation of trail dirt. This muddy mix eventually re-hardens and makes for a primo path through the woods, but it’s critical to let this process happen on its own.
If we ride, hike or horse around on the trails before this process is complete; the damage to the trail could be permanent. The mineral soils will be churned up, and rain and gravity will wash these soils away, leaving a mess of exposed roots and rocks. If the trail is really soft, our wheels leave sunken tracks which could channel into ruts and carry the soils away. If we hike, our heels and boots will dig deep into the trails and help push the soils downhill. Either way, it’s the trail that loses, so please show some respect and patience.
Just because you “can” ride, doesn’t mean that you “should.” Sometimes, if you really love riding and hiking, you should stay off the trail and seek other ways to make the new season the best it can be.
Directly following a weather event involving rain, the trails are inspected by the Millstone trail crew. The decision to delay opening due to unfavorable conditions may be made after this inspection. Following any rain event, trails should remain closed for at least one day after the event and continue to be closed if there is a high (70% or higher) possibility of precipitation on that day. The trail crew will continue to evaluate and monitor trail conditions and there will be times when a judgment call has to be made based on observations of the trails.
The protocol for closing trails may be summarized as follows:
- No biking for a 24 hour period after rain.
- If trails are closed and the rainfall event continued after the initial closure, the trails remain closed.
- If the rain stopped in the previous 24 hours, but the forecast calls for a 70% or greater chance of precipitation, the trails remain closed.
- Trails can be closed for trail maintenance and trail work events.
- Trails, or parts of trails, will be closed if bridges and/or other man-made structures need repair; as well as for clearing any blow downs/damage after a storm.
- Hunting season/End of season – out of respect and safety of other outdoor enthusiasts, MTA closes every November during its annual Vermont rifle season. This date also actively closes the MTA biking season.
- Following the lead of the Green Mt Club, Vt. Department of Forests and Parks and the Green MT National Forest, between April 15 to Memorial Day weekend in May, trails are closed so they can dry out from the winter. This gives the ground time to thaw out and allow the trails time to harden. Only if we have had a drier than normal spring would the trails open sooner.
As much as closing these trails can be an inconvenience to our users who have come to visit, it is mandatory that we do this so as not to damage our trails. Any amount of users who ride when we close our trails can lead to severe erosion and damage, as well as hours of labor repairing the trails. We ask that you please follow this policy for the future health of the trail system.
We recognize that this delay in information can be an inconvenience to our guests; therefore we thank you in advance for your patience.