Cabot Farmers Support Mountain Biking
This post was written & photographed by Gretchen Powers – filmmaker, photographer, and writer with a passion for storytelling and capturing the essence of a person, place or thing.
Vermont is a small but mighty state and one of its many accolades is that it has the largest mountain bike membership organization in the country - VMBA or the Vermont Mountain Bike Association. While the popularity of cycling and mountain biking specifically has dramatically grown in the past few years, VMBA’s membership and community is responsible for remarkable work at trail systems across the state. Cabot and VMBA are celebrating a decade of partnership this year and it’s remarkable how many folks have benefited from this lasting partnership.
Lindsay J Warner wrote the following in a recent story for Cabot’s blog:
Over the course of more than one hundred years working with farmers and communities throughout New England and upstate New York, Cabot has always strived to be more than just another company. Connecting with communities through their support of schools, parents, and teachers, getting behind public broadcasting through underwriting and fundraising support, developing programs and resources to encourage healthy eating and lifestyle for folks young and old, Cabot has worked hard to establish meaningful ties with the people and communities that they serve with their products.
Cabot Creamery Co-operative achieved B Corp certification in 2012 for their attention to the environmental and social impact on their customers and employees, becoming the world’s first dairy co-op to do so. One arena where Cabot has always invested time and energy for the benefit of communities is in supporting outdoor recreation and the land owners who provide access for users to enjoy the outdoors. Through partnerships with Ski Vermont, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, the Vermont Department of Tourism, and others, the farm families who own Cabot continue to sponsor and encourage outdoor recreation organizations and opportunities for the public.
What has happened in the past decade? Cabot has partnered with individual VMBA chapters, local farm owners and co-operative members, and the riding community at large to build trails and support riders. VMBA is an organization that consists of twenty-seven distinct chapters throughout the state, large and small, each with its own mission, culture, and trails. Cabot has supported chapters, trail projects, educational opportunities and riding programs, and supported the riding communities and landowners with cheese and gift boxes. These efforts have helped chapters connect with Cabot farm families and their land, offering constructive means for farmland owners to create access to their property for bikers, and even pitching in on the building of mountain bike trails through these properties.
A few of the trails Cabot has collaborated with VMBA to sponsor in the past decade include:
Creamery Run - Rochester
Seriously Sharp Way, Waitsfield
Cheddar Shredder, Stowe
Pepper Jack, Woodstock (just opened this year)
Pump Track at Mary Hogan elementary school in Middlebury (partial funder)
Broadwing, in the St. Johnsbury Town Forest (partial funder)
As well as other awards for trail repairs and upgrades, including:
Refurbishment of the iconic Florence and Bears trails at Cady Hill (2019)
Accessibility and beginner upgrades to the Boston Lot trails (2019)
Improvements to trails in Hinesburg Town Forest (2020)
Community loops on the Southern Vermont Medical Center’s campus in Bennington (2020)
I had a chance to check out three of the Cabot sponsored trails in VT.
Creamery Run – Rochester, Vermont
The easiest trail that I got a chance to ride was Creamery Run in Rochester, VT which winds through both Liberty Hill Farm and North Hollow Farm land. I parked at the Lions Club picnic area in Rochester and hopped on the main road for a minute before turning right down onto a side street and immediately turned off at the Creamery Run sign. The trail runs along the river for a ways before turning into the woods and climbing and then descending through some loamy woods. This is a great trail used to access other parts of the Rochester trail network and is a fun trail for beginner to intermediate riders. As Beth Kennett of Cabot Creamery Co-operative farm Liberty Hill explains, “the trail was built in honor of the many dairy farm families that dotted the White River Valley in years past producing milk and then taking the milk to the Creamery just north of the village of Rochester. The Creamery Run follows the river valley and connects land that was used by several farms through the past two centuries.”
Cheddar Shredder - Stowe, VT
The intermediate trail I rode up in Stowe - Cheddar Shredder connects the “Adams Camp” trails to the well-traveled and centrally located Stowe Recreation Path. It is also more quickly accessed off of the Haul Road up the hill from the iconic Trapp Family Lodge. Flying down Haul road was one of my favorite descents on skinny skis as a kid growing up in VT and this was the first time I had willingly gone up it instead of down. The trail is a gradual ascent/descent depending on which direction you ride it and has lots of beautiful “S” bends through the trees. Dubbed “Cheddar Shredder,” the completed trail and future parts of the project will connect a number of parcels of mountain bike and multi-use trails all over the area as part of a long-term plan to make Stowe a fully pedallable community. According to Rachel Fussell, Executive Director of STP, “the building of this trail is a critical first step in reaching our long-term goal of total connectivity within our network and neighboring trails.”
Seriously Sharp Way - Waitsfield, VT
Seriously Sharp Way is definitely the most challenging of the three trails I rode. It’s a bit of an unmarked secret along the famous Revolution trail and it winds through the woods on the Morris and Laskowski family land. and following a long bridge down to the river bank. Would be a great spot for a post ride dip in the summertime. Built by the dedicated crew from local VMBA chapter Mad River Riders (MRR), “Seriously Sharp Way” is an example of landowners and community members identifying the importance of direct access to trails from Vermont’s thriving villages. Once a bridge is built to connect to the Waitsfield village “Seriously Sharp” will connect the world class “Evolution” trail to Waitsfield Village and its outstanding bars, restaurants, farmers market, and shops.
When I chatted with VMBA about what they are most excited about these days they shared that they are working on a state-wide map for adaptive riding in Vermont. They have been working with Vermont Adaptive and the Kelly Brush Foundation in the creation of their latest trail network “The Driving Range” in Bolton, Vermont is entirely adaptive optimized - making it the first trail system of its kind in the state. What they are most proud of is that while this entire trail network is designed to accommodate paracyclists on electric mountain tricycles, this does not mean the trails are easy or dumbed down. In fact these are great trails for advanced riders of all abilities to keep pushing themselves on the bike.
Consider joining any one of these trail organizations through VMBA, as your membership dollars go directly to these local efforts to build trails and support the organizations that Cabot is so proud to partner with. A VMBA membership even comes with discounts, lift passes, and other benefits, including some of the restaurants, shops, and lodging mentioned above. Another important way you can help support these efforts is by volunteering at a trail day in any of the VMBA chapter communities trail work days.