A Family-Friendly Event

The Missisquoi Paddle-Pedal in Richford, Vermont
Executive Director Karrie Thomas with her family on a paddling trip.

Last year I brought my whole family to the Missisquoi Paddle-Pedal. All four of us – ranging in age from four to 42 – tackled the race, enjoying this fun-filled day. I encourage you to do the same; it’s a great family event.

This annual race and ramble will take place on Saturday, June 24, in conjunction with the Richford Riverfest hosted by the Richford Conservation Commission. The morning race is followed by a barbecue and live music in the park. For the past two years, it has been attended by a growing number of folks from across the region who come to celebrate the Wild & Scenic Upper Missisquoi River.

2016 Paddle-Pedal participants

This year’s event will include a special celebration after the race as the NFCT says goodbye to our long time Trail Director Walter Opuszynski, who has taken a management position with the Vermont Parks and Recreation Department. Please join us to congratulate Walter on his new position as we send him off with a few good stories and the appreciation he deserves. Walter has had a tremendous impact on the trail as he’s headed up stewardship projects for 9 years.

The Paddle-Pedal is a race for people of all abilities. During the river portion, we rode in a our 16-foot canoe for 6.5 miles. This section of the Missisquoi River contains swift-moving but manageable Class I waters and several flatwater sections.

The water level is typically good in June ,and the leaves on the trees have the brilliant green glow of spring. This is an excellent time of year to explore the Missisquoi and enjoy the camaraderie of the race and hospitality of the folks in Richford.

Last year, while those of us in the recreation class like our family put in a solid effort, we were all duly impressed by the racing class paddlers who swept past us, demonstrating exceptional technique and stamina. However, we had our own spirited but friendly competition with a team consisting of NFCT Section-Paddler Alan Flint and his son.

At the transition point in East Berkshire, we placed our boat in the care of the volunteers, and geared up for the bike portion. The Misssisquoi Valley Rail Trail provides a safe 4.5-mile route to get everyone back to Davis Park in Richford, Vermont. I had a trailer bike for my two young sons to ride, and they had no trouble on the gentle sloping grade of the trail. The straight course allowed us to easily stay out of the way to accommodate the serious competitors speeding past us.

At the finish line, where we were greeted by friendly volunteers. Before long, we were headed to the Richford Riverfest for music and food. It was a great day. We hope to see you there this time around.

Find registration and race details on the NFCT web site. Check out the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Trip Planner Tool for lodging if coming from out of town.

This year’s event is made possible by the Upper Missisquoi Wild & Scenic Committee, Northern Tier Center for Health (NoTCH), The Jay Cloud Cyclery, The Misssisquoi Valley Rail Trail, the Richford Conservation Commission, and the American Canoe Association.

The finish line on the Misssisquoi Valley Rail Trail.