Back in Montpelier with a day off from work, Doreen and I decided to do a little exploring. I did some research to locate bike paths within the city, because we don’t have a bike rack on the car yet. I did find some interesting information about the Cross Vermont Trail, which runs through Montpelier. However, we’re looking at off-road trails until we know the roads better, and there’s not much of a loop within the city.
What I did find during my search is the Winooski West Trail, a short (1.3 mile) paved path that winds along the Winooski River. There is a vision to connect the path the the Winooski East Trail, a half-mile path that runs along Stone Cutter’s Way, but evidently lack of dollars has kept that from happening.
Despite the short length and the sense of unfinished business, the Winooski West Trail packs a fair amount of punch. We made the short walk in town from our house and picked up the trail on Taylor Street, behind the state government parking lot. The path soon turned left to cross to the south side of the river, and followed Route 2 for a few hundred feet. Then it went back across the railroad tracks and mostly hugged the river’s edge the rest of the way.
We were pleased to discover that the trail takes us directly to our new credit union, meaning we’ll have an easy walk there if we need an ATM or have some in-person banking to complete. From there it skips across Bailey Avenue and behind Montpelier High School. As we curved around the athletic fields, I was struck by what an impressive setting this is for high school sports, with the gold dome of the State House visible nestled under the hills.
I was a little sad that the river itself is mostly buffered by vegetation (including more than a little Japanese Knotweed), but there were occasional vistas and also cutouts to the river’s edge. The path itself ends at the Montpelier/Berlin border, just as the Dog River trickles (at least on this day) into the Winooski. If we were cycling, we could have continued onto River Road, though this road is unpaved and not great for Doreen’s road bike.
Just before the terminus of the trail there is a sweet little spot called Peace Park. The rock that serves as the sign for the park states, This park is dedicated to those who have worked for peace and justice. Though I appreciate the need to honor those who have served in the military, this sentiment appealed to our pacifist tendencies, and we enjoyed the sense of balance it brings to the city.
Peace Park has a few benches and some lovely flower gardens along the perimeter. A compass with a dove in the center employed broken bits of china and pottery for the directional markings. A father was playing with his two kids and a black lab in the river below. If we had thought to bring a lunch, this would have been the perfect spot for a picnic.
I have learned that Montpelier has a few other so-called Pocket Parks around town, and I look forward to finding them and enjoying them all in the coming weeks.
After leaving Peace Park, it was only about a 20-minute jaunt back to town, for lunch on the sidewalk at Positive Pie. We had plenty of time to watch people walking around and enjoying State Street. A little too much time, to be honest. But that particular rant will wait for another day.