North Pasture Community Forest has public trails for all to enjoy

Burke residents and visitors can enjoy a new town forest. The North Pasture Community Forest is the first forest owned and managed by the town. The 100+ acre forest offers trails and views of Burke Mountain.

The community forest is located off Victory Road. It has popular mountain biking trails – the Shonter Shuffle and the Besaw – that are part of the Kingdom Trails network. People also use the land for walking, skiing, and snowshoeing. This is one of four properties within the Kingdom Trails network that we’ve conserved.

“We’re thrilled that this conserved land will be a place where people can explore and learn about the natural world and our forests,” says VLT’s Tracy Zschau.

The town plans to host a tour in spring 2023, focusing on songbirds and a visit to the wetland to listen for wood frogs and spring peepers.

The North Pasture Community Forest was so named because the wider area was historically known as the North Pasture. The land is mostly wooded with mixed softwoods and some northern hardwoods, and hosts a variety of wildlife. It also includes 17 acres of wetlands and a section of Flower Brook that flows into the Passumpsic River.


Creating a community forest in Burke was a group effort

The land was originally given as a gift to the Center for Northern Woodlands Education, publishers of the magazine Northern Woodlands. The Center conserved the property with us in 2005. They then sold it to Ric Prescott and Sally Schlueter, and used the proceeds to further their mission.

Sally and Ric were no strangers to conservation. They’d worked with us to conserve land in St. Johnsbury for wildlife and clean water several years earlier.

a woman and a man smiling at camera

Sally Schlueter and Ric Prescott have cared for the land for years; they worked with the town to help make it open to everyone.

When Ric and Sally decided to sell their property, there was strong community interest to secure it as a resource for all. The town’s Conservation Commission became actively involved and spearheaded the effort. Sally and Ric were committed to helping the town create a community forest and waited patiently while the money was raised.

Burke residents were eager to have a community forest – over 75% voted in favor of the project at a town vote in March 2022. This, along with funding from the town, several foundations, the Kingdom Trail Association, and a donation from a special fund managed by us, made the hope a reality.

You can go visit!

The public is welcome to ride, walk, jog, ski, and snowshoe on the trails and explore the woods. Take Route 114 north out of downtown East Burke and drive just over two miles. Take a right onto Victory Road and drive for 1.9 miles. Turn left onto Town Hwy 23, a class IV road, which is the next left after Flower Brook Road. There’s a parking area on your left soon after you turn onto Town Hwy 23. It fits 10-12 cars. A vehicle with good clearance is recommended. Please note that the road is not plowed in the winter.

The town will be planning trails but in the meantime, folks are welcome to explore the woods from the parking lot. Alternatively, see the Kingdom Trails map to plan your adventure on the Shonter Shuffle and Besaw trails or find them on Trailforks.