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Fall Guide: Get moving on new trails and a fun ridge run

IF YOU ARE ready to take your walking up a notch to running head up into the mountains above Bristol and a little bit south to experience the Ripton Ridge Run, which will be held Oct. 10.

BRISTOL — The Bristol area is a great place to get outside and get the blood moving in the fall. We’re not sure what will improve your general well-being more: the exercise your muscles gets or the beautiful landscape your senses will soak up.

A growing centerpiece of outdoor recreational activity in Bristol is the Bristol Trail Network. Initiated in 2017, the network includes six trails in and around the village of Bristol. None are too long, but they will get your heart pumping if that’s what you are looking for. The names of the trails are self-explanatory: Basin Street, Coffin Factory Loop, River Bend, Business Park Loop, High School and Old Dump.

Download a map of the trails online at bristolrecclub.org/bristol-trail-network. The website also points you to two municipal parks — Sycamore Park and Saunders Flats — and also indicates how to find the nature conservation area known as The Watershed Center, which has its own set of trails.

THE BRISTOL TRAIL Network offers a series of six trails for a leisurely walk or a more strenuous canter if you prefer.

The mission of the Bristol Trail Network is to create and maintain trails around Bristol; promote access to and appreciation for natural, historical, and cultural resources in the vicinity; and to support the recreation and education of residents and visitors alike. BTN enthusiasts also seek to foster human connections within the community, tie people more closely to the landscape, and enhance Bristol’s potential as an all-seasons destination for recreation and tourism.

If you are walking the High School trail you might notice the Pump Track in the Bristol Recreation Park. A pump track is a bike course designed in a loop consisting of banked turns and other features that allow riders to learn to gain and maintain speed by riding the terrain rather than just pedaling. Pump tracks are fun, a good workout, and a way to build mountain-biking skills and confidence. Bristol’s family-friendly pump track is for all ages and abilities.

If you are ready to turn walking into hiking, the Green Mountain Club has some hikes this fall in nearby towns. First, on Nov. 13, the club is hosting a pleasant two-mile hike up to a ridge with valley views and interesting geological formations in the Raven Ridge Natural Area of Monkton. Start at a boardwalk across a swamp, then up to the ridge, returning on a loop trail through the woods. Wear appropriate clothing; bring water, and hiking poles if desired. This hike is limited to 10 participants. For more information on exact time and to register, contact leader Ruth Penfield at [email protected] or 802-388-5407.

The weekend after that, on Nov. 20, the Green Mountain Club will take people on a more strenuous hike in the Green Mountains in Starksboro up to Mount Ellen via the Jerusalem Trail. The hike is approximately nine miles round trip with an elevation gain of more than 2,000 feet. Bring water, lunch and appropriate clothing and gear for the weather. Plan for cold as you gain elevation. Snowshoes may be required. For hike details, contact leader Ellen Cronan at 908-595-2926.

And maybe hiking isn’t fast enough for you. How about a run in the Green Mountains? The Ripton Ridge Run will have both an in-person and virtual event on Sunday, Oct. 10, starting at 12:30 pm. Runners and walkers from throughout the region are invited to beautiful Ripton for a 5K/10K run or 5K fun walk. Now Ripton is not exactly a neighboring town of Bristol, but it is right next door to Lincoln, and well worth extra 25 minutes it takes to get there.

The courses take runners and walkers on paved and dirt roads showcasing some of the region’s natural beauty. The 10.4K loop and 5K out and back both offer signature hilly terrain. After the race/walk, there will be a bagged lunch for all entrants, as well as awards and a raffle. Due to COVID precautions, face masks are required except when running or eating.

Early registration is online at riptonridgerun.org. Race day registration is from 11 a.m. to noon. Race day fees are $25 for ages 15 and under, $30 for seniors age 65+ and $40 for adults ages 16-64.

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