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Seth blazing trailSeth Coffey drives the golden spike on the first Cross Vermont Trail sign. (With audience.)

Trail Blazing

Signs and how to find the Cross Vermont Trail.

1. Use Maps, Cue Sheets and written guide material (in addition to signs).

Navigate the route by combining signs with maps, cue sheets, and written guide material. There are hundreds of signs statewide, but also long stretches between them. It may be difficult to follow the route using signs as the only source of information.

2. What the signs look like.

route sign on trail

Trail Sign.

The current standard "trail sign"
marks the route on simple path sections.

route sign on road
route sign on urban path

Route Sign.

The current standard "route sign"
marks the way on roads and on urban Shared Use Paths.

routed sign
old style trail blaze

Sundry Cross Vermont signs.

You will also find a variety of other signs along the trail route. Unique signs have been made for some particular spots (such as trailheads). Also, if a previous version of a standard sign is still working, it may not have been replaced yet with the current version.

highway sign
signs for other named trails

Signs for coaligned routes.

When the Cross Vermont Trail is coaligned with another route that has its own signage system, expect fewer Cross Vermont Trail signs. On these stretches, we "pass the baton" and rely on the other route's existing signs to mark the way. There will be occasional Cross Vermont Trail signs for "reassurance," but for primary wayfinding look for the local signage. Examples: following a long stretch of Rte 2; following a long stretch of the South Burlington Rec Path.

3. Signs clarify the route at significant turns and other "decision points".

Signs may be before, at, or just beyond the turn or decision point.

trail sign before decisionBefore decision point
(a chicane),
saying "yes, proceed."

route sign at intersectionAt decision point
(intersection of
two town roads.)

route sign after intersectionBeyond decision point
(where path segment has ended at road shoulder), beckoning the correct way.

Unfortunately, there is not a consistent pattern that predicts which type of sign location (before, at, or after) you will encounter at any given point. The trail crosses many jurisdictions. Each land owner and government body has a slightly different preference for where to place Cross Vermont Trail signs.

Following along on the maps and cue sheets will help you anticipate when a significant turn or decision point is coming up. Then, as you approach, keep an eye out for signs that can further direct you. If you don't see signs on the approach to the intersection, then pause at the intersection and look for signs beyond it.

4. Other quirks.

No sign in sight.

At intersections already crowded with road signs, additional signs to mark the Cross Vermont Trail route are "low man on the totem pole". In some places, there is simply no room within sight of a crowded intersection. Use the maps and cue sheets to navigate the turn. And look for a "reassuring" Cross Vermont Trail sign at the first spot we could find to put it!

sign after intersection, dead endFor people headed west,
this sign is beyond the intersection,
on the right side of the road.

sign before intersection, left sideUsing the same post for the opposite direction means that for people headed east, the sign is before the intersection,
on the left side of the road.

Economizing on posts.

Sometimes the logic that decodes sign placement is "use the fewest posts, preferably posts that are already there for some other reason." On town roads, sign posts get in the way of snowplowing; often towns allow Cross Vermont signs only if they are grouped on preexisting posts. On trails, having a lot of posts creates clutter (and is expensive.) Grouping signs on the same post can become the deciding factor in things like whether or not they are before or after an intersection, and which side of the traveled way they are on. (See the example in photos to the left.)

How come I keep passing signs that say "Bike Route End", "No Outlet" and "Not a Public Highway"?

Any place a sign like this appears along our designated route, you will also see a Cross Vermont Trail sign saying in essence "yes, and the Cross Vermont Trail keeps going."

5. Have a good trip.

And tell us how it went. Never hesitate to let us know if you see a spot where the signs should be adjusted, or the written guide clarified.

bike tour groupMembers of the North American Greenways Tour prepare to navigate the next leg of their journey on the Cross Vermont Trail.