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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know much about this place. I rode there a few times WBITD on steep, old school raked-in trails. Last year a friend from Waterbury brought me there. We rode in on Merrit's trail and noodled around on old trail up top before dropping out Skullies, a trail lots of folks had been raving about. It was fun, but clearly doomed.

Growing pains there this year. I read excavators on Skully, I can imagine they are attempting to fix the many switchback turns with no grade reversals and dealing with groundwater. This network is all private land. This means that if enough land becomes involved, act 250 would be the applicable regulatory statute. 10 acres as the threshold, somewhere between 20 and 30 miles of trails depending on average width is where a network starts to get in the ball park.

Reading the FB posts, their basic difficulty seems to be trail users not being able to find definitive trail info, or just don't know or care to stay off wet trails.

I am not belittling all the hard work done on the trails there. I am suggesting that a community opened a door they can not close, and I wonder what the future of a particularly fragile, privately owned trail network might be. Now part of the MTB product of Vt, it's super close to Burlington.

My questions are what are user numbers? What's the long term goals here? What is the vision of success? Can this place handle Perry Hill-level traffic? Do the locals want 20k users a season on their land?

Richmond seems like a real good example of a small network that has been around for a long time, monetizing it's self very recently. It's a good chance to be objective about what's getting better and worse there.

Any regulars want to chime in?
 

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I've been riding Cochran's regularly for just a few years so I'm no seasoned veteran of the area. But just based on my observations from a few seasons, its gotten incredibly popular with locals and now, destination travelers.

The parking lot used to be hand full of green plates but last summer the lot was often packed with camper vans and plates from all over the place. There were also a couple of big events the ski area hosted in the last couple years that drew a lot of attention - Rooted gravel ride and big climbing/mountaineering fest (probably quite a few riders in that crowd). Cochran's ski area hosts other events as well and I attribute that to increasing popularity of the trails. At this point, I would avoid riding there during busy times from what I've seen lately.

On the other hand, the trails are great - lots of vertical (200-250 vert ft./mile), narrow (for now) and they seem to dry out faster in the spring that most places. Another huge draw to Richmond Trails is the ability to link up close by trail networks via some short dirt road connections. You can put together huge rides around there with Chamberlain Hill, Hinesburg forest. Carse and Sleepy Hollow so close by.

Overall, much like Perry Hill, the trails are great and very challenging but they're getting very popular and that will make it way less enjoyable. Its also worth mentioning they just built a pump track with a kid friendly trail so expect to see parents and kids being added into the increased traffic.

I have no idea how many people ride there compared to other areas like Perry or Cady but they appear to be making a strong effort to attract people.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Its also worth mentioning they just built a pump track with a kid friendly trail so expect to see parents and kids being added into the increased traffic.
On the excavator work at Cochran's, are they facilitating the up-hill? Seem like the somewhat difficult climbing is the only thing really protecting those primitive trails up top, as well as the bench cut trail that has some design issues.
 

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I ride these trails about once a week. I have seen a tripling in use over the past 5 years. Still, for as many cars in the lot, the flow of the place is well designed and I rarely see other people out in the woods. Today, the lot was packed early morning but cleared out by 9:30.

The place has the perfect balance of new and old school trails, and amazing climbing. The proximity to burlington is a challenge now that there are more user friendly trails going in. The Cochrans family does a great job making this a fun community and RMT staff seem to be doing a slightly disorganized but very genuine effort towards encouraging respectful riding. As for the longevity of the new trails, I am interested to see what happens. Trails like skullys tend to gather the brake bumps and ruts, but man, those transitions are fun. I remember when it was mostly just IPT and Jimmy Cliff... was stoked to find such a big climb.
 

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On the excavator work at Cochran's, are they facilitating the up-hill? Seem like the somewhat difficult climbing is the only thing really protecting those primitive trails up top, as well as the bench cut trail that has some design issues.

Only up halfway. The top trails require climbing up the old jimmy cliff trail, which is not exactly a technical challenge but is enough vert that most people stay low. The preston side of the forest with the prayer flags, etc has old-time climbing with roots and stuff. There is a new connector from Cochran (A day) that makes it easier for people to access that stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Only up halfway. The top trails require climbing up the old jimmy cliff trail, which is not exactly a technical challenge but is enough vert that most people stay low. The preston side of the forest with the prayer flags, etc has old-time climbing with roots and stuff. There is a new connector from Cochran (A day) that makes it easier for people to access that stuff.
Any big-picture trail development plans available?

Also, how old is Skully's?
 

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Any big-picture trail development plans available?

Also, how old is Skully's?
I'm curious about the big picture as well... not real sure. It seems like there is plenty for now. As for Skully's, it was put in 2 years ago but has had lots of work and upgrades so it is quite a bit different. There's a new side trail off of it called Wiley's Way that is a similar style...built up berms, bridges, mixed with a little technical stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
As for Skully's, it was put in 2 years ago...
Ooff. Lessons learned hopefully. A lot of fun stuff, creative lines on the side-hill runs. It's the through-the-fall-line turns that weren't the best execution. Is that where the excavator work was/is this spring?
 

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I was one of 3 who first built single track in the Richmond area starting in 1997, and on the Cochran “massif” circa ‘98. Most of those original trails are gone. Graveyard is about the closest thing to one of the original trails. Adios was built by our buddy who was leaving for med school as a going away present. Hence, I’ve seen the full evolution of the network and I think it is awesome. There is still some of the techiest, old school riding to be done in the state up there. The higher trails and trails off the backside especially (adios, amigos, tres). The newer school stuff to the east of the ski area started going in about 4 years ago. A freshman high school student and his dad built AC/DC, then Mother’s Day, then Skully’s. He built Skully’s by hand when he was a sophomore. Pretty damn impressive. It quickly became the crowd favorite. RMT, Cochrans, and others donated money to build 2 kid friendly loops at the base area as well as an awesome pump track. Brooke built one loop and Dana built the other. Both are great. They’ve been my “home schooling” for my 6 year old daughter this spring. Anyway, the excavator was rented to build one of the beginner loops. With some extra time with it, he decided to touch up Skullies and work on some of the spots that tend to stay wet. Just rode it now. Same exact trail, just better!! THe parking lot always seems packed. It’s such good energy. About the only place I run into people however, are on the initial climb. YOu get away from Skully’s and it’s still like a private network. Many of the cars now are parents with their kids, which is what the Cochrans love - getting kids and families outside. As for RMT’s plans, I am a member, but not on the board and don’t really pay attention. But the club has developed Chamberlain Hill which is a great and poplar spot. They are working on trying to connect the Joy Ride trails to Chamberlain, and to Sleepy Hollow, as well as trying to connect Preston’s to Johnny Brook. I am also on the new Andrews Town Forest Committee. We are putting our first trial in this summer as well as putting an RFP out for the trail design for a network of 8 miles that will also connect to Sip of Sunshine. Oh, and there is a new trail planned on the Sunshine’s land too. SOon there will be a network of similar length across the valley from cochrans, so that should spread the love. As for COchrans, The Hatchet is going to be doing some food/drink there at least once a week, if not more soon. SUpport them with food and beer purchases! Also, if you like Cochrans, send in a small donation to the ski area to show support for their generosity (click the “bike option” to show the love). Anyway, the late ‘90’s and early 2000’s were a great time to ride. I knew absolutely everyone I ran into. But today is an even better time with more trails. We still have my faves like Connector/No Quarter in Stowe, and plenty of similar old school stuff in RIchmond. But we get to throw in some flow trails occasionally and even have some slightly easier climbs! With a 1200 ft descent from the top of Jimmy Cliff to the river via Skullies and AC/DC, you can have it all in one drop, old school at top, new school at the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Tyler, thanks for taking the time to reply. This is exactly the perspective I was looking for. There is no opinion more valid than yours, IMO.

I thought that the benched trails were an effort by a local young'un. It is very impressive, an effort virtually no one who rides that trail will ever come close to contributing. I built a few trails with the experts that has the same issues. Kimmer's for one, and we attempted to remedy the same issues on Pipeline years ago. It's a super difficult task to visualize those types of turns, and the volume of material you really need for adequate radius always seems to be many times more than originally thought. It's a tough thing to "Fix" after the fact.

Expanding the riding to new land sounds like it could keep some heat off the old techy stuff. Hope you guys can find some suitable terrain for some new sustainable primitive trails as well. It's a shame that everything new, is "New School".

The quantity of trail in the Huntington River Valley is pretty amazing. We are lucky, MTBing humans.

See ya out there.
 

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Yea Dave. Dana went at his first efforts with a peloski and the elbows of an 15 yr old. God bless the next generation. Speaking of the next generation, I've ridden some stuff in the southern Stowe zone that is very promising for those of us looking for new trails, but not "new school". Some great, narrow tech being exposed. I love your zone. I ride the Berlin pond to Northfield and back at least twice a yr and your earlier posts of hand written maps allowed me to explore and maximize the adventure. Adventure and exploration are still the best part of this activity. But like your zone and Cochran's, the best networks offer it all -MRV - Pusherman, High Plum, Cliff Hanger, along with the Rev/Evolution; Northfield - all your stuff up high, coupled with the machine built lower; Stowe - so much off the map tech, coupled with some awesome new stuff. We just need better connections from Waterbury. Come on WATA!! Let's connect with primitive trail Richmond to Waterbury; Waitsfield to Waterbury; Northfield/Berlin/Mont. to Waterbury. Anyway, an old fond memory is when you (dave), Hardy and Jonathan came over from Stowe to ride our old school **** in Richmond, circa 2002. All you rippers shirtless. At the end of an old classic that is now gone (foot/illium), we had to descend West White Hill. Typically we'd get to 50mph. We were about that and then you pass me manualling at that speed. F'ing crazy!!
 

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.... Anyway, an old fond memory is when you (dave), Hardy and Jonathan came over from Stowe to ride our old school **** in Richmond, circa 2002. All you rippers shirtless. At the end of an old classic that is now gone (foot/illium), we had to descend West White Hill. Typically we'd get to 50mph. We were about that and then you pass me manualling at that speed. F'ing crazy!!
Haha. We were animals back then. Good memories indeed. I remember Nettles....and getting smashed by you on the climbs.
 

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I think some of those trails mentioned are on town forest land, so may not be subject to act 250. That area is the best riding in Chittenden county - all those OG trails are, in my opinion the most fun and awesome (Jimmy Cliff, Adios, Amigos, Graveyard). One of the longest descents available around here. Easy connects to other old school awesomeness like Sleepy, HTF, Carse.
 

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I'd just like to clarify some things and set the facts straight. The Richmond selectboard did have parking on Cochran road on their agenda last week. However, the parking issues being discussed had absolutely zero to do with mountain biking and 100% to do with parking on the east end of the road where the Huntington river meets the Winooski. The swimming holes there are hugely popular and the parking has gotten crazy. I'll include a link for the details, though it is pretty boring reading, but want to clear up fake news. The funny thing is, Richmond did have a parking problem due to mountain bikers 5+ years ago before Richmond Mountain Trails was formed. Folks basically took over the Round Church parking lot. When RMT was formed, they worked with the Cochrans who generously allowed the bike/hike/run folks to park there. The club then left notes on cars parked at the Round Church advising them to please park at Cochrans. Without the club, I am sure the parking issue would have festered and exploded. Anyway, sometimes the clubs can do some good! http://www.richmondvt.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Selectboard-Minutes-for-7-6-20.pdf
 

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I'd just like to clarify some things and set the facts straight. The Richmond selectboard did have parking on Cochran road on their agenda last week. However, the parking issues being discussed had absolutely zero to do with mountain biking and 100% to do with parking on the east end of the road where the Huntington river meets the Winooski. The swimming holes there are hugely popular and the parking has gotten crazy. I'll include a link for the details, though it is pretty boring reading, but want to clear up fake news. The funny thing is, Richmond did have a parking problem due to mountain bikers 5+ years ago before Richmond Mountain Trails was formed. Folks basically took over the Round Church parking lot. When RMT was formed, they worked with the Cochrans who generously allowed the bike/hike/run folks to park there. The club then left notes on cars parked at the Round Church advising them to please park at Cochrans. Without the club, I am sure the parking issue would have festered and exploded. Anyway, sometimes the clubs can do some good! http://www.richmondvt.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Selectboard-Minutes-for-7-6-20.pdf
Solid post......thanks for the info. And yes, like everything else in the world, there are good clubs, good chapters, good segments of most groups. And then there are the not so bueno which are easy to focus on
 

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Are there other places one shouldn't park when accessing the Richmond trails? I've only been once, but I parked at the park behind the restaurant on the other side of the Winooski bridge. I missed the ski area entrance I think. Does the ski area entrance look like someone's driveway?
 

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I'd just like to clarify some things and set the facts straight. The Richmond selectboard did have parking on Cochran road on their agenda last week. However, the parking issues being discussed had absolutely zero to do with mountain biking and 100% to do with parking on the east end of the road where the Huntington river meets the Winooski. The swimming holes there are hugely popular and the parking has gotten crazy. I'll include a link for the details, though it is pretty boring reading, but want to clear up fake news. The funny thing is, Richmond did have a parking problem due to mountain bikers 5+ years ago before Richmond Mountain Trails was formed. Folks basically took over the Round Church parking lot. When RMT was formed, they worked with the Cochrans who generously allowed the bike/hike/run folks to park there. The club then left notes on cars parked at the Round Church advising them to please park at Cochrans. Without the club, I am sure the parking issue would have festered and exploded. Anyway, sometimes the clubs can do some good! http://www.richmondvt.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Selectboard-Minutes-for-7-6-20.pdf
Tyler - thanks for this information. I hope you are doing well and hope to see you out there on the trails.
 

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Hey Granite. You can park as the town park by Stone's Throw Pizza. If you do want to park at Cochran's, it is about 2 miles down Cochran rd once you turn onto it by the Round Church. It's also a good place to park for Chamberlain. You can start with the River trail, a mile of pavement, then the Jonny Brook trail to connect.
 

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Hey Granite. You can park as the town park by Stone's Throw Pizza. If you do want to park at Cochran's, it is about 2 miles down Cochran rd once you turn onto it by the Round Church. It's also a good place to park for Chamberlain. You can start with the River trail, a mile of pavement, then the Jonny Brook trail to connect.
Also known as Volunteers Green, it has the playground, and is the boat launch for the Winooski.
 
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