A new trail network for Dover and Sandpoint - Welcome to VTT
2020 has been a year that will long be remembered for a global pandemic, an economic downturn, a historic election, and social and political unrest around the world. But amid all the turmoil pulling communities apart, an effort has been underway right here in Sandpoint to bring the community together. Starting in early April, Pend Oreille Pedalers (POP), Sandpoint's local bike club and trails organization, began organizing weekly trail work parties that, over the next seven months, brought almost two hundred different community members together for close to one thousand hours of volunteer work on area trails. Every Thursday from April to October and on several weekends, POP members joined forces to build and maintain miles of trails for bikers, hikers, trail runners, dog walkers, and people of all ages and abilities who were yearning for adventure in a year marked by restricted travel and stay at home orders.
Who are Pend Oreille Pedalers?
POP is a community, member-supported organization that exists to expand and promote opportunities for outdoor recreation on natural surface trails around Sandpoint. The core values on which our organization's mission is built are health, quality of life, social and economic development, community connections, and conservation. We believe in "building community through trails."
In addition to our 300-strong membership base and 28 local business sponsors, our community partners include the private an public land owners on whose land our trails exist, including the City of Sandpoint, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Kaniksu Land Trust, Mark and Susie Kubiak (Sherwood Forest), and Julie and Steve Meyer. Maintaining strong relationships and open communication with these parties and others is an essential function POP must fulfill in order to accomplish our mission in the community.
What is VTT?
POP has partnered with Julie and Steve Meyer to oversee the development of public recreational trails on their recently acquired 100 acre property adjacent to Pine Street Woods, known as VTT (short for velo tout terrain, which is French for mountain bike).
VTT, encompassing 100 acres of forested hillside, ridgelines, and ravines to the south of Pine Street Woods, is a blank canvas on which miles of new trails will someday be built. POP's plan is to build approximately 4 miles of new non-motorized trail on VTT, tying the property into the existing 9 miles of singletrack trails in the broader Syringa trail network (PSW and Sherwood Forest).
Roughly 80 of VTT's 100 acres are being placed in a permanent conservation easement with Kaniksu Land Trust, meaning any trails we build on the property will be open to the public in perpetuity. The Meyers are retaining the remaining 20 acres for possible future development into a trailside campground, a "conservation development," or some other innovative recreational or residential use. There are currently no firm plans for development on the property.
An aerial tour of VTT
What is POP's plan?
The buildout of the VTT trails will unfold in two phases between March 2021 and June 2022.
Phase 1 - Beginner arterial trail & trailhead parking area
"Green" arterial trail
- 1.85 miles in length (9,768 ft)
- "Green," beginner-friendly trail
- Will connect Pine Street Woods to the north to new parking lot in the southwest corner of VTT
- Average gradient of <6%
- Wide tread (48" average)
Gravel parking lot
- Trailhead parking lot in southwest corner of VTT
- Access from West Pine Street
- Approximately 6,000 square feet
- Crushed gravel
- Machine graded
- Rough hewn timber
- Located at trailhead at new parking lot on West Pine Street
- Will contain maps, property information, donor information, how to support POP, etc.
Phase 2 - VTT buildout: Beginner, Intermediate and advanced trails
Phase 2 includes the construction of several shorter trails branching off of the Phase 1 arterial trail, offering mountain bikers, hikers, and runners many loop options within the VTT property
- Total distance of new trails: 2.2 miles (11,700 feet)
- Multi-directional (green and blue trails) and single direction (black and red trails)
- Narrower tread than arterial trail (24" - 36")
- Steeper gradient (blue and black trails) than arterial trail
Phase 2 will also include design, development, and installation of trail signage for whole VTT network.
Timeline for completion
March 2021 - Phase 1:
- Parking lot constructed in SW corner of VTT
April 2021 - Phase 1:
- Construction of "green" arterial trail begins from lower parking lot working uphill
- Volunteer crews begin clearing corridor for arterial trail
- Excavation work begins on arterial trail, with approximately 300 feet of trail completed per day on average (32 days of machine work anticipated)
May 2021 - Phase 1:
- Machine work complete by last week of May
- Volunteer crews join Collaborative trails for final trail work day
- Finishing touches put on new trail by end of May
- Sunday, May 30th - Grand opening of new "green" arterial trail and VTT trailhead parking lot. Phase 1 completed
October - November 2021 - Phase 2:
- Work begins on Phase 2 trails
- Volunteer crews clear corridor and support Collaborative trails crews until there is snow on the ground
April 2022 - Phase 2:
- Machine work resumes on Phase 2 trails when snow melts
May 2022 - Phase 2:
- After a total of 40 machine days, Phase 2 is complete.
- End of May, 2022 - Phase 2 completed!
Following is a description of the various costs that will be incurred towards the project.
- Contractor costs: Based on estimate cost per foot for each of the planned trails, contractor costs include professional trail building labor (machine operator and "shovel guy"), equipment costs (excavator, track loader, plate compactor, etc), materials (for bridging and wood features), and fuel. - $38,725
- Force account labor: This represents the portion of POP staff salary for work on the current project, including project coordination, planning, communication, volunteer coordination, and actual work complete on the trails themselves. - $3,000
- Trailhead parking lot: Cost includes equipment rental and operator wages and surfacing material for parking lot. - $6,000
- Trailhead kiosk: Includes materials and labor to install a rough-hewn timber trailhead kiosk and trailhead signage. - $1,200
- Signage: Includes design and production of comprehensive signage for entire trail network, designed to the standards desired by the property owner. - $1,200
- Volunteer labor: Includes the efforts of unskilled volunteers towards the project's completion, at a wage rate of $7.25 per hour. 200 hours towards Phase 1 and 240 hours towards Phase 2. - $3,190
Total project cost: $53,315
POP is pursuing several funding sources for the VTT buildout. We have one large donor that has committed to covering the majority of the Phase 1 cost already. We are in the process of seeking support from several additional sources.
- Sandpoint Rotary Club - $13,000: COMMITTED
- POP member volunteers - $3,190: COMMITTED
- Innovia Foundation grant - $20,000: application in progress
- Santa Cruz Paydirt grant - $10,000: application submitted
- National Association of Realtors Placemaking Grant - $5,000: application in progress
Total donations, volunteer, and grants committed and pending: $51,190
How can you help?
POP's efforts to build and open the VTT trail network to the public in just over one year are ambitious. In order for the project to succeed in the timeframe described we will need plenty of support from the community, both financially and as volunteers. Beyond our initial support from Sandpoint Rotary Club, none of our funding sources are yet secure. Any donations from the community earmarked for this project will go towards helping us achieve our funding needs and reduce the gap between funds needed and funds in hand!
The first way you can help is by renewing your POP membership for 2021. Member support allows our organization to function and continue working to bring more trails to Sandpoint. Next, join one of our volunteer outings in the spring to put some sweat equity into the new trails.
If you care to make a donation directly towards the project, please click here, and select "new trail construction" from the dropdown menu. Finally, if you are part of an organization or know of one that might be interested in offering support for projects like this, please reach out to POP's executive director, Jason Welker (firstname.lastname@example.org), and let him know how you might be able to help!
What makes this a worthwhile project?
Your organization's support for the development of the first VTT trail has the potential to expand opportunities for outdoor recreation to the Sandpoint and Dover communities in a timeframe that otherwise would not be possible, providing a truly unique recreational asset to our communities that will be here for generations to come. The proposed trail will provide the easiest, most enjoyable access to the Syringa network yet available without driving into the heart of Pine Street Woods. For people who continue to access the Syringa network from existing trailheads, the new trail will open up the 100 acre VTT property and add many new loop options to ride, run, or hike beyond what currently exist.
In closing, we at POP believe that an investment in trails is an investment in future generations. Trails are forever, and long after the current pandemic and political turmoil embroiling our country have passed this trail will be left as a gift to our children and grandchildren. Trails are also a "non-partisan" investment; people of all political persuasions and perspectives enjoy using trails for all kinds of recreation. Dog walkers, hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers love nothing more than to explore beautiful forests with views over the valley below, letting their minds wander from the chaos of the world. For these reasons, we hope that you will decide to support the development of Sandpoint and Dover's newest outdoor recreation area!
Why support trails?
A short film by the North Idaho Trails Coalition (POP, KLT, SNC)