The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

It shouldn’t have to be a hike to go hiking

Emma Cathers

Editor’s note: this story was updated to reflect a correction surrounding undergraduate enrollment. 

Living in the city of Burlington, it can be incredibly frustrating looking at the range of mountains every morning with no easy way of getting there.

So often, Mount Mansfield seems perfectly framed in my view, until I remember that it’s a nine-hour walk away. Unfortunately, Mount Mansfield is one of the closest large mountains to Burlington.

Of course, it’s only a relatively short 50-minute drive to the very same mountain. As a first-year, though, it’s rare to find access to a car.

It’s obvious that many other students have this same urge to hike the mountains, but struggle to get the opportunity: the Outing Club, which organizes weekend hikes and other outdoor activities, has seen a great demand and trips often sell out quickly.

“I signed up 10-15 minutes after an Outing Club trip was posted and I was immediately put on the waitlist,” said first-year Evan Bray, noting this difficulty.

It’s clear that mountains are an important aspect of UVM’s identity. In fact, UVM actually stands for Universitas Viridis Montis, Latin for “University of the Green Mountains,” according to The University of Vermont’s About page.

UVM continues to encourage this idea of mountains being openly accessible for incoming students on its Burlington About page, noting that they’re “but an hour away.” 

However, this page fails to mention how inaccessible transportation to the Green Mountains is for these first-years. Generally, the options for car-less students are slim. 

There are no buses that go to any mountain trailheads; instead, students are relegated to rental sites such as UVM Bikes and Carshare Vermont.

UVM Bikes may seem like a good way to access easy transportation for all students. Prices on bike rentals are also extremely cheap, ranging from $5 a day to $25 for the whole semester, according to UVM’s Transportation and Parking website.

However, the stock of bikes is always limited. And while biking may prove easy for local trailheads, a more than two-hour bike ride to Mount Mansfield may prove too vigorous for less experienced riders.

Carshare also has this sort of catch, albeit in a less drastic way. Carshare only has around 20 cars for use in the Burlington area, but it does have the benefit of being cheap: there’s a $30 application fee plus $7.50 per hour according to Carshare Vermont’s official website

Students end up with a great deal of benefits, and they don’t have to worry about exerting themselves on the way there.

However, Carshare is an unofficial car rental company with its fair share of anxiety-inducing forms to sign. It also requires all drivers to have a license for at least two years, a box that many first-years might not fill. Ultimately, it’s hard not to wish for an easier option.

Unfortunately, that easier option just isn’t there. 

Every service has a catch like those already mentioned, some more jarring than others. It’s a frustrating game to try and play, especially since many of UVM’s options are so hard to find—none of this is made any simpler by the systems in place.

Looking at all of UVM’s options for getting away, it seems like the main issue is accessibility.

There are only a handful of trailheads within a walkable distance of UVM’s campus, and this fact has been a constant strain on my everyday life.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been looking at the Green Mountains as paintings on the wall—forever unreachable, just decorative scenery.

I believe that we should seek to make them more than that. Better access to mountain transport, be that through more availability in clubs or a wider range of school-sponsored transport, is integral to incoming students looking to get away.


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