Hardwick, News

Hardwick Trails Celebrates 20 Years on Saturday

photo by Brendan Buckley
Participating in the annual Cat in the Hat Walk in 2009 on Hardwick Trails were Helen Beattie as Cat in the Hat, Emma Buckley as Thing 2, and Erin Whipple as Thing 1.

by Helen Beattie, Community Journalist

HARDWICK – Twenty years ago, the forest behind Hazen Union, until then known only to a few, began a transformation into a multi-season, multi-use recreational community asset, the Hardwick Trails. Now, the Hardwick Trails Committee is planning a community celebration for the twentieth anniversary of the trails on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Many residents regularly walk, run, bike or ski the 10 kilometers of double-track or six kilometers of single-track trails that are maintained by the trails committee. On Saturday, regular users will introduce the trails to community members.

Those walking the trails will see the poetry walk, with verses of both local students and published poets. Or, they may find a book at the “Little Library” by the stream.

Others may join one of the guides for an introduction to mountain biking, or for experienced riders, a tour of the single track system. Those interested, should gather at the new kiosk at the back of the Hazen Union parking lot at 10 a.m.

Six stretching and strengthening stations can be found along the Marlene Clark Fitness Loop on the trail. Marlene Clark was a devoted Hazen Union staff member for many years and the trails committee honored her many contributions to our community by creating the loop with her name. Michael Clark, Marlene’s son, will organize a fun run, in which participants race against their own time predictions. A less time-sensitive option will be available for those wishing to try the exercise stations at a slower pace. Meet at the trails cabin (at the edge of the woods behind Hazen) at 9 a.m., for either option.

For a walk down memory lane at 10 a.m., Hardwick’s children may follow the Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 along the Purple trail Story Walk, as the Dr. Seuss story is read aloud, culminating in the stealing of the cat’s tail and a chase through the woods.

At 11 a.m., Alicia Benoit-Clark (better known as Mrs. ABC by her students) will be leading a Fairy House building adventure in the woods.

Every year, the Trails Committee organizes a wide variety of naturalists’ walks on the weekends. Naturalist Erin Rosenthal will lead a guided plant walk at 10 a.m. on Saturday. She will focus on the medicinal properties of plants.

The Hardwick Trails Committee and the Adaptive Sports Partners (ASP) ensure that the Hardwick Trails, along with the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT), will be accessible to all residents. ASP will join the morning activities with a wide variety of adaptive bikes for people to try.

The log cabin, built by Hazen Union students in 1983, serves as a base for the Hardwick Trails ski and snowshoe inventory and grooming equipment. It is the base for the “Ski Loan and Lesson” program. The cabin has also been a home for many after-school and summer activities. It will be open to those who would like to learn more about trail history and how to best understand and access the multi-season recreational resources.

At noon, community members who have been instrumental in the development of the Hardwick Trails will be honored. Honorees include Nancy Shepard and Al Cockrell, Judy Geer and Dick Dreissigacker, Beth LeCours, and Margie and Roger Prevot.

Wendell and Beverly Shepard played a pivotal role in the initial development of the trails, opening their land to develope this resource. The Shepard family’s generosity continues with support of their daughter Nancy Shepard and her husband Al Cockrell, who serve on the trails committee and continue to be integral to the expansion of trail activities.

Judy Geer and Dick Dreissigacker, owners of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center (COC), have contributed equipment and labor to help meet the demands of trail upkeep and repair. They have also helped build the ski inventory for public use.

For the past 19 years, Beth LeCours, the Hardwick Elementary School art teacher, has orchestrated the carving of pumpkins for the annual Pumpkin Walk. Each year, the Trails Committee gathers approximately 400 pumpkins, one for every student in the school. LeCours oversees their transformation from gourds to ghouls for this annual event. On an October Sunday evening, a few hundred yards of the trail are lined with these carved pumpkins.

In recent years, the Prevot Family Foundation has contributed funds to update and expand the cross-country ski inventory and grooming equipment. Both Margie and Roger Prevot are lifelong cross-country skiers and share the trails with our community.

Also available on Saturday will be selections from the Street Treats Ice Cream Truck.

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