Master of Burlington’s Domain
Burlington Trail Master/Vertical Mile/Century Club Programs
I’m going to try my best to retrofit an old page into a new one. Bear with me.
Back in the day, the (excellent) Burlington Land Trust put together what was known as the Burlington Trail Master Challenge. If you are the rare reader who is interested in the things like the Burlington Trail Master Challenge, welcome! You are my kind of people. If you have no idea what I’m talking about but randomly landed on this page for some weird reason, that’s okay too.
Especially since the Trail Master Challenge no longer exists. Also, to be clear, we are talking about Burlington in Connecticut – not Burlington in Vermont. Although some of the trails in our Burlington can feel as remote as those in Vermont.
I make no secret of my OCD-fueled love of hiking challenges. Peak-bagging lists, red-line challenges – all that stuff. I am nuts for them and hope to complete every one within my reach. And I encourage land trusts and towns and hiking organizations to keep creating them, if only for me. I am selfish about very few things, so allow me this one (because it’s so ridiculous, cheap, and easy.)
I was nearly a Burlington Trail Master before I knew the program even existed. I happened to learn about it while reading through the most entertaining trail guide in the state – the (also no longer existent) Burlington Rambler’s Guide. I struck up an email conversation with Paul Rochford from the Burlington Land Trust and mentioned that I noticed there was a program for weirdo completists like me.
The BLT website said Trail Master completers would receive a certificate of completion and a patch. When I told Paul that I was going to be a BTM, he was excited to tell me that I was the first person to admit to such a thing. As a result, he had to then admit that they had no patches or certificates. But they had T-Shirts!
And I got one.
The BLM challenge is a little bit nuts – but of course that’s why I loved it. The CFPA’s Tunxis Trail in Burlington is not a point-to-point trail at all, but rather a large network of trails that go all over the place. If you’ve ever driving down route 69 between 4 and the Bristol line, you’ve most likely noticed that you cross the Tunxis 4 or 5 times. That gives you some idea of how it’s laid out.
Beyond having to knock out the entirety of the Tunxis in Burlington, you also must redline Sessions Woods. And when you look at the BLM log, you’ll notice that you also must do all the little spur trails all around the park. Which is absurd… And great.
Ok, so, the Trail Master program is no more. I wonder if I was the only person to “officially” complete and submit for it? And come to think of it, with my goal of completing everything in every town, I’ll ultimately be the “Trail Master” of every town. Cool. Anyway, the Land Trust has moved forward with two new programs: The Vertical Mile Challenge (VMC) and the Connecticut Century Corps (CCC).
The Vertical Mile Challenge is designed for new or returning hikers that would like to achieve a goal close to home. To climb 5,280 vertical feet in a year is significant. It is more than climbing up and down to the top floor of the Empire State Building twice. Much more information here.
The CCC challenges hikers & families to experience 100 trail miles in Burlington, Barkhamsted, and Farmington, which are Connecticut’s Hiking Crown Jewels. You can learn more about the challenge here.
Alas, I won’t be doing either of these new challenges simply due to my chasing down 168 other towns’ trails. But you should! Burlington has some of Connecticut’s finest and most challenging hiking; and what better way to experience it all that through a rewards program? I’m not going to list out all of the Burlington trails here, but you can find them all through the Burlington Town Guide. Happy Hiking!