WILMINGTON -- During the past few weekends, the Trails Committee was busy on work details at the site of the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail.
"We're planning on having that completed sometime next month," said Wilmington Trails Committee Chairman John Greene.
Last weekend, the committee built two and a half bridges on the trail. According to members, there are nine or 10 left to go. Telephone poles act as a base for the bridges to put the planks on. Then committee members nail boards down to the poles. They install hand railings for safety reasons if the bridge is a certain height from the water.
"It's kind of hard to do because the telephone poles are so heavy," said Selectboard member Jake White, who acts as liaison between the committee and the board. "It takes a few people to actually accomplish."
About three weeks ago, the town received a permit for the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. It took several years to obtain because a study had to be submitted before the committee could begin work on the trail. Paying for a wetlands biologist was an issue for the committee. But the study was completed earlier in the year, when the committee found someone it could afford to hire.
"That enables us to be able to work on the trail through the area of the wetlands," said White.
The Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail starts at the footbridge off Main Street, then it goes to the Mountain Mills picnic area at the end of Fairview Avenue, where the trail comes out. The trail is at least a mile long, according to White. It is named for the line it takes, an old railroad, which had run up until the early 1900s.
"A major accomplishment was the pedestrian bridge over the Deerfield Valley River," said Greene. "That was tremendous. Thanks to Barry Reardon, we got that accomplished. And that's generated so much energy and interest in the trails."
Reardon donated the footbridge to the town. It was opened to the public on June 1.
Right now, the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail has a temporary, or bypass, route that goes to the left of the Moover building, White said. Because there is construction taking place at the building, the field where the trail usually goes is closed off.
People have been using the trail for years but the committee has been attempting to get the trail cleaned up and make it more accessible. It isn't officially open but maintenance for making it an official trail of the town is in progress. Certain sections have been recently mowed by committee members.
"At the moment, we're just trying to get it in as a hiking trail," said White. "You could bike it if you wanted but it's not a continuous flat, smooth trail. Areas of it are really nice ... but there are other areas that we need to make bridges to go across some of the smaller streams."
The committee is planning to hold an opening ceremony for the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail, but for now its members are concentrating on putting the finishing touches on the trail.
Greene told the Reformer that getting the five miles of the Valley Trail up to date in maintenance and signage, as well as finishing up the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail, has been a "tremendous achievement" for the committee.
White is still putting up signs on the Valley Trail. The committee also plans to have "a majority of the nice, sure-packed gravel base" put down before the winter.
Another trail that is on the committee's radar is one that links up to Lake Raponda. The committee has received most of the permission it needs to begin its maintenance work. People are using the trail as it is now, just like the Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.