In 2004, Don Bellingham, a long time Vernon resident, became a member of the Hockanum River Linear Park committee, seeking an opportunity to support the maintenance and expansion of the Vernon trail system. Don hit on an idea to establish a Trail Sponsor program in Vernon that would mimic the “Adopt a Highway ” national highway program. The HRLP committee enthusiastically approved Don’s idea. The Trail Sponsor program became the impetus for creating the Vernon Greenways Volunteer organization, which started with 4 members and has grown to 130 individuals who actively engage in trail maintenance outings or want to be fully aware of the program’s activities and success.
The VGV organization would never have existed without Don’s strong desire to grow recreational awareness in Vernon and surrounding areas. Vernon Greenways Volunteers was established in 2022 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are individuals who have chosen to give back to the community and make their own experience more satisfying by participating in the maintenance, enhancement and proper use of the trail system.
- Maintenance – We assist the Town of Vernon’s staff on trail projects. We execute our own trail projects. We keep trails clear of trash and debris. An assigned Trail Manager takes ownership of a trail segment. We have periodic clean-up sessions. To see updates from the organization, click here.
- Enhancements – We provide 12,000 free biodegradable dog litter bags annually at pet stations, a receptacle for deposit of the full bags and we service both at selected high dog traffic locations. We provide 8,000 free tri-fold trail specific maps annually at selected locations. A “Pick Up after your Pets (PUP) Project” was executed in the spring of 2007 to educate pet owners as to why they should pick up after their pets on the trail. In May 2009 the Vernon Parks and Recreation Department introduced a No Smoking Policy in parks, trails and ball fields to reduce the cigarette butt litter per our request.
- Proper Use – All volunteers must participate in sound trail practices: follow posted restrictions, comply with town ordinances, “carry out what you carry in”, periodically pick up trash while using the trail, etc. To see the rules of the trail, click here.
All volunteers must agree to follow the “Proper Use” policies which are highlighted in the previous section “Who Are We And What Do We Do?”.
Participation in maintenance projects is not mandatory as we realize time and physical restrictions may not allow all members to participate at this level; we value your head and heart as well as your hands. However, some of the greatest enjoyment in this program is through the interaction with fellow volunteers and seeing the results of your labor on a completed project.
Send ideas and suggestions to our e-mail address. Attend meetings, usually twice a year. A Spring Kick-Off Meeting to start the season and an October celebratory season ending picnic.
It is a way for those who use the Vernon trail system to participate in their community while improving this resource and experiencing the fun of interacting with like minded people. You will be kept abreast of trail happenings and events through periodic e-mails. Vernon Greenways Volunteers T-Shirts, windbreakers and baseball caps are issued to members.
You may also elect to be a Trail Manager who takes ownership of a trail segment (most segments are 0.8 to 1.9 miles) which has not already been assigned. A Trail Manager’s duties may include but are not limited to: removing sticks, rocks and other debris; pruning small limbs; cutting back encroaching vegetation to maintain a trail corridor; servicing any of the enhancements listed above; replace missing signage; reporting vandalism and maintenance needs that are beyond our capabilities to the town. Heavy duty trash bags and a trash picker will be supplied if requested.
If you enjoy gardening, we currently manage ten plantings on or near the Rail Trail. In the spring work parties spread mulch and do a spring cleanup on each. The rest of the year our Planting Adopters, each of which has taken ownership of a planting, will weed, water, dead head, etc. to keep them in top shape.
A work group that assists Vernon in combating erosion on our multi-use trails. The town delivers stone dust to a site we designate and a small vehicle for us to move that stone dust to the area in need of repair.
A work group that assists Vernon in keeping its hiking trails open. We use heavy duty string trimmers and safety gear. If you don’t have either or both they will be assigned. We do weed whack poison ivy if it infringes on the trail.
- Rails to Trails
- Hockanum River Linear Park
- Valley Falls *
- Vernon Center Middle School
- Walker ’s Reservoir
*Main Road, Rail Road Brook, Valley Falls Loop, and Braille Trails, only.
Tools are supplied for projects. Due to liability and safety issues chain saws will not be used. Contact the town at (860) 870-3520 if a large limb or tree is on the trail.