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26 September 2012

Maintenance of Adopted Trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Do you like being outdoors, and like knowing that your work has a positive impact on many people who hike the trails in New Hampshire each year?   If so, then perhaps becoming a Trail Adopter is something to consider!

Several organizations have programs whereby people can volunteer to do maintenance on hiking trails.  In the White Mountain region of New Hampshire, the two organizations with the largest trail adopter programs are the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) and the USFS (U.S. Forest Service).   In addition to the AMC and USFS, other organizations (e.g. Cohos Trail Association; Randolph Mountain Club; etc) have similar programs, plus there are many local trail clubs which provide opportunities for trail adoption.  As a Trail Adopter, your responsibilities include such tasks as cleaning out drainage structures (waterbars, ditches, and dips); trimming brush and removing downed trees from the trail corridor.
Currently, I am a Trail Adopter for six trails.  On the surface, that might sound like a lot.  However, many of my adopted trails cover a distance of less than a mile.  Also, a local snowmobile club performs some of the trail maintenance work on one of my longer adopted trails.  And besides, this activity seems more like fun to me than actual work!
I've recently completed the Autumn maintenance for five of my six trails.  On the chance that it might be of interest to some readers, this Blog report will provide some photos and brief commentary relative to this recent trail work.
For this round of trail maintenance, I began in the Great Gulf region where I have adopted a segment of the Osgood Trail which is only 0.8 mile.  And my other adopted trail in this region is the Osgood Cutoff, which is only 0.6 mile.  To reach my work site, I need to hike 1.8 miles along the Great Gulf Trail, which is a longer distance than my two trails combined!  Perhaps the following map will provide some perspective.  My adopted trails are highlighted in purple. 
(Click on the map to enlarge it.)
Map showing my adopted trails in the Great Gulf region

I don't mind hiking the 1.8 miles leading-up to the point where I begin my work.  It's a very pleasant walk which begins on a narrow suspension bridge which is restricted to pedestrian traffic.  From this bridge, there is a very scenic view of the Peabody River (see next photo).
View of Peabody River from hiker's suspension bridge

Within about 30 minutes of hiking, it's a welcoming sight when the Great Gulf Wilderness sign comes into view.
Great Gulf Wilderness sign

I do my trail maintenance by hiking a counterclockwise loop which means that the Osgood Trail is the first trail to receive my attention, followed by the Osgood Cutoff.   By the time I've nearly completed my work on the Osgood Cutoff, I always take time to meander about 75 ft off the trail on an unmarked side path.  From this location there is a stunning vista of the Great Gulf.  It's a very nice "paycheck" for a day's work!
Great Gulf as viewed from side path off the Osgood Cutoff Trail

A few days following my trail maintenance work in the Great Gulf, I went to Ammonoosuc Lake (Crawford Notch area) to work on the Around-the-Lake Trail.  Over the years, I've met a surprising number of people who are unaware of this trail's existence!  Their initial thought is that I'm referring to the trail that goes around Saco Lake, which is just a short distance away to the southeast.  But in all fairness, the confusion is understandable.  The trailhead for Saco Lake, and the lake itself are visible from US Rt. 302, whereas neither Ammonoosuc Lake nor the trailhead are visible from the highway.

The Around-the-Lake Trail is highlighted in purple on the map that is shown below. (Click on map to enlarge it.)
Map showing Around-the-Lake Trail

This trail offers some nice lakeside views, particularly from its western and north shore.  The next photo shows one of those views.
View from shoreline of Ammonoosuc Lake

As mentioned earlier, the trailhead for the Around-the-Lake Trail isn't visible from the highway.  Also, there is no trailhead parking.  If you are a guest staying at the Highland Center, you of course can park in their lot and walk to the trailhead.  But otherwise, you'll need to park at the lot adjacent to the Crawford Station, or at the lot near the north end of Saco Lake, and then walk in behind the Highland Center to reach the trailhead.

The next two trails on the "hit list" for my Autumn maintenance were those located on Cherry Mountain.  Here I maintain the eastern portion of the Cherry Mountain Trail, as well as the Martha's Mile Trail.  Although the combined mileage for these two trails (4.6 miles) might seem like a lot of trail to maintain, please bear in mind that appearances can sometimes be deceiving!

Shown below is a map with my adopted trails highlighted in purple. (Click on map to enlarge it.)
Adopted trails on Cherry Mountain are highlighted in pink

The 3.6 mile length of the Cherry Mountain Trail is jointly maintained by a local snowmobile club.  During the summer months, it's basically just a wide grassy roadway which doesn't require much maintenance.  There was a drainage issue on the lower portion of this trail which required some time and effort during my Springtime maintenance.  But that situation now seems to be under control.

The Martha's Mile Trail is only 0.8 mile.  Not only is this a very short trail, but it's very easy to maintain.  There are no drainage issues, and usually there are few, if any, downed trees to be removed.   In case you're wondering, Martha's Mile becomes a "mile" by combining the 0.2 mile spur-trail between the Cherry Mountain Trail and the 0.8 mile Martha's Mile Trail.

The hiking community can be grateful to Bill Nichols (Littleton, NH) who took the initiative in the 1960s to restore the Martha's Mile Trail which had been abandoned for many years.  It provides an important link between the Owl's Head Trail (maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club) and the Cherry Mountain Trail.

As with your own children, it's difficult to pick a favorite.  However, of my adopted trails, the ones on Cherry Mountain rank highly in my personal favorability.  The mountain as a whole is attractive.  Shown below is a recent photo I took of Cherry Mountain as viewed from the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge.
Cherry Mountain as viewed from the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge

And as for the views from the mountain itself, the are magnificent, in my opinion.  Shown below is one of the views from the Owl's Head peak on Cherry Mountain.
View of Presidential Range from the Owl's Head peak on Cherry Mountain

Even traveling the road to the trailhead on Old Cherry Mountain Road can oftentimes provide a nice view of Mt. Deception from a roadside pond.  This vista is shown in the next photo which was taken on the way home from my recent trail maintenance work.
Late evening view of Mt. Deception from a roadside pond along the Old Cherry Mountain Road

And so, only one more adopted trail remains on list, and then my Autumn maintenance will be finished.  The one that awaits me is the Mt. Tremont Trail.   This 2.8 mile corridor is my "problem child".   That's not to say that I love it any less than my other trails.  But, as any parent with more than one child knows, some require more attention than others!

The main issue with this trail is that it's very prone to blowdowns.  For those unfamiliar with that term, it means trees that are toppled by wind and fall onto the trail!  Many of these blowdowns are within my ability to remove by saw and/or ax. However, there are some that are simply beyond my capacity and I need to fashion a workaround until the Forest Service can send a chain-saw crew for complete removal of the downed tree.

I'm uncertain exactly when I'll being doing maintenance on the Tremont Trail, but it will definitely be sometime well before the end of October.  Regardless of when I get to it, I'll know that at the top of Mt. Tremont there will be terrific views to reward me for my work.  A few of those views are shown below in a composite of photos taken during my trail maintenance in the Spring of 2012.
Composite of some of views available from summit of Mt. Tremont

To sum it up, being a Trail Adopter can be a very rewarding experience, especially if you like being outdoors, and like knowing that your work has a positive impact on many people who hike the trails each year.


Steve Smith said...

Great post, John! Thanks for all you do for these many and varied trails. Perhaps this will inspire some new adopters to take on some "orphaned" trails!


1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Steve!
It’s particularly gratifying to read that you understood the underlying intent of my posting was to inspire others to become Trail Adopters, and not merely “toot my own horn”.


One Day in America said...

This post is definitely of interest to me, John. When I hike in the mountains I'm always grateful to those who maintain the trails for my hiking enjoyment!

You've adopted some beautiful segments of trail to maintain and it looks like you had great weather for your trail maintenance "chores".
The pictures of mountains and clouds reflected in the lakes are wonderful! The fall colors showing up in the mountains are spectacular too.

It sounds as though these trails are more fun than work to maintain—they're lucky to have a dedicated trail-adopter like you!


1HappyHiker said...

Thank you Rita for your positive comments!

I was uneasy about posting this. My concern was that some would misinterpret it as a self-aggrandizing piece of work. Fortunately, people like you and Steve Smith have recognized the true intent of my posting, i.e. to highlight the rewards of being a Trail Adopter, with the hope of encouraging others to volunteer their time for this activity.



Me and my wife do trail maintenance on the Cumberland trail here in Tennessee. It is always rewarding work. As we hike any trail, we pick up sticks, move small downfalls, and try to pick up trash. Every little bit helps. With my hiking group, they have learned to do the same as we hike along. If people see you doing it they tend to start doing the same thing. Thanks for your help.

1HappyHiker said...

Craig, thank you for taking time to post a reply to my Blog, and also thank you for your service as a fellow Trail Maintainer! It sounds like we are in agreement that trail maintenance is rewarding work.

And yes, I've also discovered that this “work” can be “contagious”. Two of my hiking friends have become Trail Adopters after having accompanied me on my rounds.


David said...

It is truly a rewarding experience maintaining trails for others to enjoy as well. I maintain a few miles of trail in the New York Finger Lakes region and enjoy it tremendously. One of my retirement objectives is to take on a stretch in the White Mountains. But that's a few years off yet. What a wonderful post. Keep up the good work. Adopting a trail gives one a deeper appreciation of the paths you walk on wherever you go.

1HappyHiker said...

David, thank you so much for taking a moment to post your comments!

I wholeheartedly agree with your statement: “Adopting a trail gives one a deeper appreciation of the paths you walk on wherever you go.” Each time I walk along a well-maintained trail, wherever it might be, I know that there was dedicated work involved to make it a pleasurable hiking experience!

Just as a sidelight, for nearly a decade, I lived in Norwich, NY which is an area not far from the Finger Lakes Region where you do your trail maintenance. What a beautiful part of the country! So many people only associate NY with New York City. But, as we both know, there’s a whole lot more to NY State than just that tiny piece of real estate! :-)

Thanks again,


I am glad to hear about people helping out on trail maintenance. We always make a habit of clearing trail as we hike no matter where we are. We appreciate the work it takes to build and maintain trail. We work with the Cumberland Trail in TN doing trail building and maintenance as well. Keep up the good work!

1HappyHiker said...

Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog and to post your comments!

I agree completely with you about how nice it is to read that there are other dedicated individuals out there who do trail work, and who appreciate the work that it takes to keep a corridor maintained for others to enjoy.

Thanks again,