Trail blazers: The Crozet Trails Crew wants to bring neighbors outside

The all-volunteer Crozet Trails Crew connects the community to the outdoors, and neighborhoods to one another. Photo by Jack Looney The all-volunteer Crozet Trails Crew connects the community to the outdoors, and neighborhoods to one another. Photo by Jack Looney

Dedicated to a vision of Crozet as a town connected through greenways, the Crozet Trails Crew is all about forging community links. It’s work that makes them happy. “I love that outside my back door there are paths that follow streams, riparian zones, and wildlife,” says Terri Miyamoto, president of the all-volunteer CTC. “Our mission is to connect people in the community to outdoor recreation, and neighborhoods to each other.”

Founded nine years ago by Crozet residents Jessica Mauzy and Dan Mahon, the CTC has planned, built, and now helps promote seven miles of trails: the Crozet Connector Trail on the east side of town, the Lindy Bain Loop to the west around Old Trail, and the shorter Creekside Trail to the northwest. The group’s aim is to link all three into an integrated system with lots of access points throughout Crozet.

The pathways are wide and rugged, wending through forested areas and along open meadows, snaking between or around housing developments, and jumping creeks via wooden bridges designed by the group’s resident engineer, Phil Best, and constructed by volunteers. Each year, the male and female winners of the CTC’s 5K fundraiser race have a trail bridge named in their honor.

Though mowing, maintenance, and storm clean-up are the most visible CTC efforts, behind the scenes is a maze of property rights hurdles. “A big issue for us is how to get permission to build a trail on a piece of property,” says Miyamoto. “Just because a trail is on the [Greenway] Master Plan doesn’t mean that the easements are there.” That’s where Albemarle County Parks & Recreation steps in.

“We deal with zoning, surveys, negotiating with neighbors, and VDOT,” says Mahon, who is an Albemarle County Trails and Greenways planner. “It takes a mountain of paperwork to build a mile of trail.” Local businesses help with fundraising and trail maintenance where they can. Builder Stanley Martin, for instance, recently installed crushed stone and rock edging along muddier trail sections running between its new developments and Crozet Park.

When dreaming of future trails, the CTC’s focus, as always, is on connection. Besides linking neighborhoods like Cory Farms, Fox Chase, and Chesterfield Landing to the existing trail system, the group wants to “grow the map” to include the Crozet library and downtown area as well as new developments. “I’d love to have more stroller-friendly surfaces,” says Miyamoto, “and to create more alternative safe routes to school for walkers and bikers.”

Encompassing an even wider view, planning for a commuter-oriented Three Notch’d Trail connecting Charlottesville’s Rivanna Trail to Crozet is underway, and an ambitious Crozet Tunnel Trail project is on the CTC’s list as well. Once restored, the mile-long Blue Ridge railroad tunnel at Rockfish Gap could link Crozet trails through Afton and all the way to Waynesboro. It’s a lot to get done, but Miyamoto says the CTC thrives on the energy of its volunteers, and anyone can join in. “We want people who are walking on the trails to know, hey, you’re part of the trails crew!”