On June 9, 2021

Looking to its future, Slate Valley Trails logo reflects past

POULTNEY — On trailhead signage, on bumpers, in newsletters, brochures, and through a slate of sponsored community activities, the Slate Valley Trails (SVT) logo has become a familiar sight in southwestern Vermont. Featuring a mountain biker and runner set against a rugged green mountain backdrop, with muscular, blocky letters and a clean, outgoing format, the logo embodies the spirit, grit and determination of the association’s founders to blaze trails and provide opportunities to get up, get out, and get active locally. 

That winning spirit paid off. 

In six short years, Slate Valley Trails has grown from a handful of outdoor recreation enthusiasts into a community association with over 200 sustaining members, coordinating with local landowners to create and maintain a network of 45+ miles of multi-use trails.

Courtesy SVT

From the start, Slate Valley Trails has set out to be responsible users and stewards of the trails, working with landowners to negotiate access agreements, building environmentally responsible trails, and educating trail users in conscientious and sustainable practices that respect the physical conditions of the trails as well as the rights and privacy of the landowners. The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a stark reminder of the benefits we enjoy from getting outside and being close to nature. With Covid-19 restrictions easing and economies moving into the summer season, Slate Valley Trails is poised to be a major player in a healthy and sustainable regional recreational economy. 

Caitrin Maloney, a local landowner and Slate Valley Trails board member, said the outlook for the Slate Valley Trails Association has grown with the success of the organization. “It has been amazing to see the growth of Slate Valley Trails over the past few years. There is a buzz and excitement about the trails and all the opportunities that trails bring to this community.  People see it as a really positive thing for Poultney,” said Maloney.

To reflect an expanding and diversified presence in accessible outdoor recreation, and underscore dedication to the future of sustainable community land use, Slate Valley Trails felt it was time to give its brand appearance a makeover. 

To develop a new look that would project the future of Slate Valley Trails, the association turned to graphic artist and Poultney resident Nic Stark. To craft that look, Stark sought inspiration in an unlikely direction — the past. 

Courtesy SVT
Current examples of local signs that influenced Poultney resident and graphic artist Nic Stark on his redesign of the Slate Valley Trails logo.

Stark began researching the graphic history of the Poultney region itself, finding beautiful samples of local printing and mapmaking industries from days gone by. Thanks to the generosity of Chuck Colvin, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind typefaces found in the basement of the Journal Press building in downtown Poultney were digitized. Stark incorporated them into a new look for the organization with a fresh yet vintage feel that underscores the connection between Slate Valley Trails and its heritage in the Poultney region.

“One of the defining characteristics of Poultney and the region is that so many aspects of it have remained unchanged over generations. In many parts of our culture there is a tendency to accept that new things are inherently better. I saw this design as an opportunity to be inspired by our past and echo that things don’t have to be new to do a good job and look great,” said Stark.

That look developed into a redesign of the Slate Valley Trails logo. Now in a single shade of Vermont green, the second-generation SVT logo retains the shield-like shape of the original, with a radiant sun shining over a familiar mountain backdrop at top. The name Slate Valley Trails is stacked in the center, rendered in a Slab Serif font that feels strong, fresh, and classic. At the bottom, a trail leads the viewer from the foreground back to the mountains. Gone are any figures identifying specific trail uses. Instead, the focus is all about the trail, extended like a personal invitation to enter the landscape in the way that best suits you, honoring the diversity of all trail users and their interests.

Courtesy SVT
Historic examples of fonts and lettering also influenced Stark’s design choices. He was inspired by the past to make the new logo feel fresh but classic and timeless. It also does not use imagery of any particular sport to welcome all trail use.

Changing the familiar logo of a successful organization might seem like fixing something that isn’t broken.  In fact, it’s working out really well, SVT stated in recent news release:  “But success brings change.” 

As the trail systems and usage have expanded, the association has likewise grown in its administration and in the diversity of its programming, which include group rides and runs, seasonal and competitive events, birding outings, as well as family- and children-oriented programming. The new logo for the organization underscores its mission, to support a future of diversified trail use and development of regional outdoor recreational success. 

“The new logo and branding are fabulous,” said Chris Smid, president of Slate Valley Trails. “SVT is gaining momentum in so many areas, and the new brand reflects that energy perfectly.”

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