A big shout out to the trail restoration crew
If you have hiked on the David & Neva Trail any time in 2021 and 2022 you probably saw our land stewards and volunteers hard at work restoring this beloved path. The trail is our most popular because it brings hikers to some of the Preserve’s most visited features such as the west meadow, the Jordan Stream Path, and the Richard Trail. If first-time visitors ask me where to hike for about two hours from Route 3, I usually recommend the David & Neva trail to the Jordan Stream ‘South Spur’ and back south along the carriage road. This loop is approximately two miles and offers some of our best scenery.
The only problem with a lot of hikers on these trails is managing their collective impact - tens of thousands of feet and paws make for a lot of erosion! Many sections of the David & Neva Trail were getting beaten up, so we spent the past two summers restoring those as well as a few sections of the Jordan Stream Path. Here is a rough accounting of the work we completed:
• Replaced old bridges with long-lasting cedar.
• Built stone staircases on steep grades.
• Flattened many sections of trail that were on slopes.
• Placed rock steppingstones in some wet areas.
• Rerouted the trail where it was too close to the pond’s edge.
• Removed or buried roots to make it easier to walk.
Who did this work? A small crew of permanent staff, seasonal employees, a few contractors, one intern, and many dedicated volunteers. I would like to highlight the three employees, Land Stewards Ed Hawes, Dave Ouellette, and Nicholas Sanborn, who were present for most of the work and deserve a huge THANK YOU from all of us. We are also grateful to the State of Maine Recreational Trails Program that provided some of the funding that supported this work.
Ed, Dave, and Nicholas were on the trail virtually every day between June 1 and mid-October working on elements of the trail. Some days (or weeks!) were spent moving boulders through the air with construction-grade equipment. Other days they ferried wood planks across the pond by canoe. There were days dedicated to flagging, measuring, and planning the next week’s trail work. Then there were those days when the crew spent hours on their hands and knees meticulously assembling a stone retaining wall that we can expect to stand for over a century.
Restoring a trail from the ground up is one thing but Dave, Ed, and Nicholas restored these trails while also keeping the trail open to hikers, giving out trip advice to the lost and the weary, overseeing volunteers and contractors, managing a safe work site, and answering an endless string of tourists’ questions.
The restoration project is about wrapped up (there is a little more to do in 2023) and the trail is better than ever. If you have not walked it recently, now is your chance to see the improvements. It is safer and more fun to hike now that it is a bit flatter, and the worst of the roots are out of the way. Most importantly, the trail’s erosion and impact on the surrounding environment, including wetlands, have been minimized.
Nicholas, our seasonal land steward, has moved on to join the Maine Warden Service but Dave and Ed are permanent members of the Preserve’s staff. If you see them at Little Long Pond, be sure to thank them for all their good work.