A Vermont landmark that gives visitors an opportunity to connect outdoors with the work of an iconic poet is now able to welcome more visitors than ever before.
The Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton, the small Addison County town where the famous poet spent many summers teaching and writing, has seen dramatic upgrades to improve accessibility.
It now boasts a wider path, with flatter, more secure surfaces for seniors and those who rely on mobility aids who want to check out the sights. The trail sits in part of the Moosalamo National Recreation Area, a 16,000-acre section of the 400,000-acre Green Mountain National Forest.
“I like it,” said 10-year old Emma Austin, who uses a wheelchair. “You get to see a lot of trees.”
The improvements drew praise from the advocates at Disability Rights Vermont and Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports.
“It’s great to see things like this being done around the state,” said Ed Paquin, the executive director of Disability Rights Vermont. “I think some people make the assumption that a wild area is not an area for people like myself who use a wheelchair. If you can break that down a little bit, make it possible for everybody to use [the trails], then you’ve done a wonderful thing.”
“Nature brings peace of mind,” added Erin Fernandez of Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, which provides opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities to enjoy outdoor recreation. “It’s part of everybody’s wellness, so it’s a perfect opportunity.”
Emma’s dad, Brian, who works for the U.S. Forest Service, said researching family destinations built for wheelchairs takes a lot of work.
“Even things like mini golf, you’ve got to find one that’s accessible,” Austin said, predicting other families like his will be glad to know about the new, more accessible offering. “You can have a picnic here.”
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All along the trail, you’ll encounter examples of Frost’s poetry, including what’s probably his most famous: “The Road Not Taken,” which is about those two roads that diverged in a yellow wood.
“As an older person, he was here doing some of his very best work,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, said of Frost before the senator checked out the poetry on the trail Tuesday.
Leahy was key to landing money for the accessibility upgrades and other work in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, which volunteers and federal partners inside the Green Mountain National Forest have been growing as a high-quality place for mountain biking, cross-country skiing, camping, and other activities.
“That’s a gift which makes Vermonters proud,” Leahy said of the committed work of the Moosalamoo Association, praising the group for its vision to enhance the outdoor offerings in the region both today and for future generations.
For people with disabilities, ensuring more visitors can now enjoy the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail has—to borrow a closing line from Frost himself—“made all the difference.”