People Are Hitting The Trails This Winter

What were people in Brattleboro doing on Christmas Day? How about New Year’s Eve? Would you believe that dozens of people each day were out on the West River Trail?  Windham Regional Commission has expanded its pedestrian count program to the winter months, and recent data both surprised and pleased us.

Counts on the West River Trail in Brattleboro from December 11, 2018 through New Year’s Day 2019 were only about 15 percent lower than the long term average for non-winter months. It was probably the short days as much as, if not more so, than the cold though that kept people from getting out. We came to this conclusion because while weekday counts for that period were lower than average, weekend counts, when people are more likely to have an opportunity to get out during daylight hours, were exactly the same as the long term average for data recorded in spring, summer, and fall.

On Christmas Day we recorded 110 “trips” on our West River Trail counter. A “trip” is one person passing in one direction on the trail. At a place like the West River Trail where most people go out and back, we can estimate the number of persons using the trail to be about half the number of trips. This would mean about 55 people were out on the West River Trail on Christmas Day, about 50 on New Year’s Eve day, and about 68—our highest daily number—on December 29.

We placed counters on several other trails in January. Usage on the Holden Trail, a hiking trail to The Pinnacle in Westminster, was about one-third the number of trips recorded in September of 2018. Still, that means about five to six people each day were getting out. This is the same number of people we estimated to be using the trail to the summit of Putney Mountain, though that’s considerably less than counts from the summer months (these counts are over five times higher). Guilford’s Weeks Forest Carriage Trail was nearly as popular as the Holden Trail this past summer, but its January use averaged only about two people each day.

So we know some people were out on the trails Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, but what about Valentine’s Day? Apparently everyone in Dover was doing something else besides hiking. Our counter was out for 12 days on the multi-use Crosstown Trail, and Valentine’s Day was the only day during the entire count period when no one was on the trail. The following Saturday and Sunday though (President’s Day weekend), the counter recorded an impressive 323 trips!

If you’re looking for a good reason to get outside this winter, don’t forget that seven libraries in Windham County have snowshoes available for loan (along with information on where to use them) though the efforts of the Vermont Department of Health Brattleboro Office. Those libraries include Brattleboro, Dover, Guilford, Jamaica, Townshend, Westminster West and Whitingham.

For a listing of trails in the Windham Region, visit the Windham Region Trails Project web page. For an interactive map of pedestrian counts through the end of 2017 (2018 data will be added soon), visit WRC’s on-line mapping site.


Last Updated: 07 January 2021
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