WEST DANVILLE, Vermont — The just-completed first section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail has only been open a couple of weeks but it's already starting to boost business — a promising sign for a recreational path that will eventually cross the state.
Bob and Brenda Sambel have already noticed more business at their West Danville food truck, parked near the shore of Joe's Pond not far from what is now the western end of the trail.
The bicyclists aren't prone to eat a lot, but after snacking by the side of the trail they will sometimes return later when they can eat more, said Brenda Sambel.
"It is good for us," said Sambel. "We get a lot of bikers and a lot of walkers."
Eventually, the trail will run from St. Johnsbury to Swanton. And the Sambels are already looking forward to the future, when they expect even more foot and bike traffic.
"It should be good for us next summer, it should be very good, because people will know we're here," Bob Sambel said.
A boost to the region's economy was one of the selling points for the project, which has been in the works for about a decade. It has been funded by a combination of state, federal and private money. Community members have also worked on the trail.
They're starting to use it, too.
"People are really happy to be using it. We love it. We're happy it's so close to our camp on the pond," said Dee Palmer, of Danville, as she was out walking on the trail one day this week with her dog Daisy. She owns a camp near what is now the western end of the trail.
The recreational trail is open to bicyclists, runners, walkers, horseback riders, and, in the winter, snowmobilers.
While the first section is now open, volunteers are working on a 15-mile section between Morrisville to Cambridge. The entire trail is tentatively scheduled to be finished in five years but officials acknowledge it could be longer.