Woodland strolls incompatible with mountain biking

BRATTLEBORO — The Retreat Trails in the Retreat Woods are at a crossroads.

The new Retreat Farm nonprofit owns five Retreat Trails from four trailheads accessing the many, central Retreat Trails owned by the Brattleboro Retreat.

The Lower and Upper Woodlands Trails from the Neighborhood Schoolhouse/Solar Hill trailhead access the central Retreat Trails from Western Avenue.

When the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps recently maintained these narrow, steep trails, the crew leader, an avid mountain biker, decided to modify the Upper Woodlands Trail for faster mountain biking.

Quiet, woodland strolls and faster mountain biking are not compatible.

At the Retreat Farm's initial public meeting about the future of the Retreat Trails on Feb. 13, mountain bikers asked whether trails could be dedicated to mountain biking, which Retreat Farm representatives supported.

If access trails from the other trailheads also are quietly modified for faster mountain biking, it will be no secret that all Retreat Trails have become mountain-biking trails where pedestrians are unwelcome.

Fortunately, the Brattleboro Retreat has a say in the future of the Retreat Trails and can protect pedestrians' quiet enjoyment of this oasis amid Brattleboro.

A Vermont Youth Conservation Corps crew leader and allied mountain bikers are not in charge.

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