The Caledonian Record writes that they have confirmed this with Kingdom Trails Executive Director Abby Long.
Although these three landowners are a small handful of the 97 that control the land that the Kingdom Trails are on, the closure seems to affect a large portion, and some of the network’s best trails, located off of Darling Hill Rd.
“We fully respect their decision, as it is their private property and they have the sole right to determine the use of their land,” wrote the Kingdom Trails Association in a statement. The three land managers have only cut off access for mountain bikes, leaving access for other user groups like hikers intact.
The Kingdom Trails have always offere a great example for how mountain bikers can successfully work with private land owners to attain access to great trails, eased by Vermont’s statute that protects private landowners from liability.
The three land owners addressed their concerns and why they chose to cut off mountain bike access in a letter to the Kingdom Trails Association, but the trails organization told the Caledonian Record that they’re not comfortable sharing what the land owners said.
There are of course plenty of thoughts floating around in the comments section of a few posts on the Kingdom Trails Association’s Facebook page, as well as an image of the trails that have supposedly been affected.
A few Facebook users mentioned that mountain bikers have been disrespectful to these land owners, but with the Kingdom Trails Association choosing to remain silent about the letters, this can’t be confirmed at the moment.
The Kingdom Trails have been heavily publicized as a destination over the past few years, drawing more and more attention and crowds to the trail network.
“Kingdom Trails understands the concerns for the pressure and stress the continued strong growth in trail use and area visits has put on landowners’ properties as well as the roads and small villages where trail access exists,” says the Kingdom Trails Association. “While the success of the trails has brought meaningful economic benefit to the area, challenges and tension points exist around traffic, congestion, and pedestrian safety of residents and visitors alike.”
The USDA awarded the trails organization a grant to study the feasibility of implementing a welcome center for visitors, where to put more parking, and how to ease and balance traffic and congestion.
The study is due to be complete near the end of 2020. In the meantime, Kingdom Trails Association is continuing congestion mitigation and new projects in the Darling Hill area of the network, where the closed off trails are located. Kingdom Trails have already purchased two parcels of land right off of Darling Hill Rd., securing access in critical points, they say.
We’re reaching out to officials at Kingdom Trails Association and others for more insight as this story is developing.