Unsung Heroes: Dave Wright
Interviewed and written by Eric Eagan
Dave on recent hike on the trails in Victor
In 1991 Dave Wright answered a newspaper ad that was looking for people to join and create a volunteer trail committee in the small town of Victor, NY. 29 years later, and over 65 miles of new trails, he is still at it, leading an organization called the Victor Hiking Trails – A trail system that is home to 3 trail races – The 0 SPF and The Bread Sticks Half marathons and The Old Goat Trail Race, and coming soon a full trail marathon as well.
25 people initially responded to that ad put out by Marcia Bryan of Victor NY. At the time the town had less than 2 miles of recognized trail, it was inside of what is now Fishers Park and was maintained by the Water Department! Soon, an organization was set up with a Chair, a Secretary, a Treasurer and a Trail Boss. “It was funny, because we had no money but had a treasurer and we had no trails but had a trail boss”, said Wright of the start of the organization.
June 2004, the start of the Auburn trail project. Left: Joe Arrigo, NYS Assembly. Center: Dave Wright, Right: Jack Richter, Victor Town Supervisor
With the idea to find land, and with the blessings of the Town board (which would give no money, but would offer it’s support) Marcia, Dave and those early members began looking for land. “A friend of ours had a 50 acre wooded lot, we asked if we could build a trail and they said yes. We named it the MonKey Run Trail which was the name of the road at the time where the trail head sat.” Said Wright.
As the years went on the organization was able to acquire/build/create over 65 miles of trails within the Town of Victor. There is single track, board-walks, double wide and rail trail. Many miles of trail are on private lands, which Dave and his crew have worked tirelessly to procure easements and insurance for. There is even some state land mixed in at the Ganondagan State Historic site. All in all the town developed that 2 miles of trail into a network that spans the town. It connects businesses and neighborhoods, allows for long solitary walks, or bike rides with the kids. The trails are diverse, with some being easy wide and flat, while other places have flowing single track the dives up and down over roots, rocks, and creeks.
Over the years Dave has seen much change along the trails though. More runners and mountain bikers are on the trails , he says. The crowd has gotten a bit younger and the way trails are built has changed. “We used to think of a trail in the sense of what a hiker would want or need, now we try to think about all the other folks who might be out there and that takes a different trail design.” Said Wright.
The Victor Hiking Trails started with 1 push mower and 1 trail and now has 3 brush hogs, a trailer, power trimmers, chainsaws and a bevy of trail building tools. Three nights per week they are on the trails working to ensure they are passable for all the users who often take advantage of them without a thought of where the trail came from.
Dave feels that these trails have given the Town a sense of identity. People come from all over to run the system, and it was all built and maintained by volunteers, a point he is really proud of.
When asked why he has been doing this for so long Dave laughs and says “I got nothin better to do.” Then in a more serious tone he speaks to how he loves to contribute and feels like this gives him an opportunity to create and give back to his community. “Have I thought about stepping down? Sure, but I love to do this, so as long as I still can, I will be involved’.
The Victor Hiking Trails or VHT Hosts weekly hikes, work days, and more. Learn more about Dave, and the story of VHT here.
Thanks Dave to you and your organization for contributing more than you know to our sport!