New Northeast Kingdom Trail named project of the year
The Green Mountain Club, NorthWoods Stewardship Center, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation were honored this weekend with the “Project of the Year” award for their work on a new trail in the Northeast Kingdom . The “Project of the Year” award for the new Middle Mountain Trail in Avery’s Gore was presented Saturday at the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council 6th Annual Trail Symposium in Richmond.
Notable for its sustainable design and unique trail experience, the Middle Mountain Trail is the result of an ongoing partnership of the Green Mountain Club, NorthWoods Stewardship Center, Plum Creek Timber, and the state of Vermont, The trail is an important step in developing hiking trail corridors on the former Champion International Paper Co. lands—now the Kingdom Heritage Lands—which at 132,000 acres is the largest conservation project in the state.
According to NorthWoods Trails Coordinator Luke O’Brien, the Middle Mountain Trail project epitomizes the kind of collaboration needed to balance Vermont’s recreation and forestland management goals. “This is a wild trail in a remote part of Vermont, and yet it honors the region’s working forest traditions,” explains O’Brien. “Subtle design elements and careful construction minimally alter the landscape, creating an immersion experience where hikers can enjoy the unique natural communities of Vermont’s northeastern highlands.” O’Brien is author of the 2010 Northeast Kingdom Mountain Trail Guide—also a product of the partnership between GMC and NorthWoods.
Jean Haigh, president of both the statewide Green Mountain Club and its Northeast Kingdom Section, stated “I can't count the number of times I have hiked this trail and it never fails to fill me with joy and thanks. It is a 12-year dream come true. For me the trail is a treasure, made even more so by our long strong collaborative work of scouting, planning and building in close partnership with NorthWoods, Luke, the crew and the Northeast Kingdom Section volunteers. None of this would have happened without the support, encouragement and positive direction from Chris Fife of Plum Creek and Lou Bushey of ForestParks and Recreation. This project is truly an example of partners coming together to create an amazing trail in our northern wilderness. I am so appreciative."
The Green Mountain Club is the state-designated corridor manager for the new trail. The club, led by the volunteers in its Northeast Kingdom Section (i.e. local chapter), led the charge more than a decade ago to secure public hiking access in the former Champion Lands. Since then, the club has worked tirelessly with its partners – most notably with the NorthWoods Conservation Corps staff which build the trail itself – to move this exciting project forward.
In July of this year, NorthWoods’ Backcountry Crew, led by Cody Sayers, completed more than a mile of the new trail that explores Middle Mountain’s southwestern ridge and leads to the 2,947-foot summit. Hikers can view Lewis Pond, Nulhegan Basin, and the mountains of northern New Hampshire. Sayers was also honored at the Trail Symposium with the “Muddy Boot Award” for her seven years of recreation and trails leadership in Vermont, including two years of AmeriCorps service and five seasons as leader of the rigorous Backcountry Crew program.
Hikers can purchase a downloadable map and trail guide for the first leg of this trail from the Green Mountain Club’s website for $0.99.
About Green Mountain Club
The mission of the Green Mountain Club is to make the Vermont Mountains play a larger part in the life of the people by protecting and maintaining the Long Trail System and fostering, through education, the stewardship of Vermont's hiking trails and mountains. For more information, please visit www.greenmountainclub.org.
About NorthWoods Stewardship Center
The mission of the NorthWoods Stewardship Center is to empower new generations to appreciate, understand and wisely use the land through science, education and action. For more information, please visit www.northwoodscenter.org.
RICHMOND, Vt., October 20, Green Mountain Club