Bristol trail network expanding

BRISTOL — If all goes well this summer the Bristol Trail Network (BTN) will more than double the number of its completed segments.
Not bad for a project that will celebrate its first birthday this June.
Two segments of the network have been completed so far.
•  The High School Segment, according the project website, is 0.8 miles long and “follows the perimeter of the high school property from the woods at the southernmost edge of the football field around to the northeast corner of the athletic fields past the baseball diamond.”
•  The Coffin Factory Loop at the foot of South Street near the river is 0.3 miles long and “loops gently through the foundations of the historic Bristol Manufacturing Company buildings with lovely views of (and access to) the New Haven River. Though you’re barely a block from downtown Bristol, the site is immensely quiet and peaceful.”
The loop is a collaboration among BTN, the Bristol Historical Society and the Bristol Conservation Commission.
Last September Hogback Brewery donated $200 from the proceeds of its “Coffin Factory IPA” to help pay for a sign that will one day go up at the trail entrance.
“Each bottle had a ‘toe tag’ talking about the trail network and the sign project,” said Hogback brewer Kevin Hanson.
“It was a really great beer,” Knight said with a laugh. “I bought a case of it for Halloween.” 
This summer BTN hopes to add three more segments, she said.
•  The River Bend segment would connect the Coffin Factory Loop to the Bristol firehouse. Because of the generosity of its supporters, BTN was able to hire the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps for a week to perform this work.
•  Another segment would connect Lord’s Prayer Rock with the South Street Bridge. BTN has secured permission from three-quarters of the landowners along the route and hopes to reach an agreement with the rest soon, so that work can begin in earnest.
•  BTN is also hoping to establish and publish a trail at Beaver Meadow off Notch Road.
Other plans in the works this summer include:
•  Re-routing a trail along the town dump to rectify a conflict with an adjacent landowner. BTN is working with an engineer to determine the exact route and whether or not they will have to wait another year to conform with regulations associated with the dump’s closure.
•  Improve and extend the trail at Veterans Memorial Park, 5 miles east of Bristol.
•  Extend and improve the trail behind the high school.
For those who want to learn more about the Bristol Trail Network, on June 8 Knight and Reg Dearborn of the Bristol Historical Society will co-lead an afternoon session during the Preservation Trust of Vermont’s annual Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference in Bristol. Knight and Dearborn will give a short presentation on BTN, then lead attendees on a half-hour walk of the Coffin Factory trail.
BTN is a project of the nonprofit Bristol Recreation Club (not to be confused with the Bristol Recreation Department, a division of the town). Its mission is to provide access to local natural, historical and cultural resources, to foster human connections to their communities and landscape, and to promote Bristol as a recreation and tourist destination.
The project got started last June, when Knight, vice president of the Rec Club, convened an exploratory meeting that attracted more than 40 people — far more than the six she’d hoped for.
Collaborations with two organizations have proven instrumental so far: Bristol CORE (the downtown improvement organization) and the Bristol Conservation Commission.
“They are our left and right hands,” Knight said.
To find out about volunteer opportunities or to join the BTN mailing list contact Porter Knight at [email protected].
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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