NCT Chapter plans ambitious 2023

Photos provided to the Times Observer Trail work using a grip hoist to move a boulder into position for the Tracy Run North Branch stream crossing. In the photo, from left, are Tom Moustos, NCTA regional trail coordinator; Jeff Manelick; Katie Currier (Forest Service recreation management specialist); Sam Zembardo; Randy Thomas and Mike Toole.

A good trail requires constant maintenance.

And a dedicated group of volunteers continue to ensure that the North Country Trail through the Allegheny National Forest is a good trail.

“In our forest, the ANF Chapter of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) maintains and promotes the 98.7 miles of the NCT,” Chapter president Tina Toole said. “This year the ANF Chapter promoted the NCT through monthly guided hikes, the Allegheny-100 Hiking Challenge (A-100) held in June and a completion patch offered for hiking all the NCT miles through the ANF.”

She said the monthly hikes brought about 20 people out each month.

Maintenance is also a constant element of the Chapter’s work.

Participants, from left, Mike Toole, Tina Toole, Shelby Gangloff with Wendell and Oliver, Danielle Hoy, Gail Spicer, Kim Newland and Sylvia Grisez on a guided hike near Fox’s Dam in October.

“Besides routine maintenance such as tree removal, mowing, brush cutting and drainage work, the chapter completed many projects in 2022,” Toole said. “One project worked on throughout the year was reblazing 27.5 miles of trail.”

That was the stretch from Chappel Bay to Henrys Mills.

“The chapter also worked on repairing existing bridges and staircases by replacing rotted boards or railings and their supports on twelve structures,” she explained. “Other building projects included nine bog bridges and two stone crossings to get over marshy areas or streams and one staircase to get up a steep bank.”

At times, the trail itself has to move and it was rerouted in five locations this year. The reasons varied – getting the trail off an oil road, getting around blowdown, avoiding a stream crossing.

“The final and longest reroute was to move the trail to a different spot over the two branches of Tracy Run in Tracy Ridge,” Toole explained. “This will allow safer crossings of the two branches. On the north branch, a stone crossing has already been constructed and on the south branch of Tracy, a bridge will be built next year.”

Looking ahead to 2023, maintenance and outreach will be the Chapter’s focus.

“One priority is to increase safety of hikers by building bridges over both Tracy Run South Branch and Johnnycake Run in the Tracy Ridge area,” Toole said. “These streams often run quite high and fast and can be quite dangerous.

“The Forest Service has already approved these bridges, so now the challenge will be to move in all the materials by boat and get them to the sites.”

Another sizable project is a 1.25 mile reroute to take the trail off of Branch Rd. That will make the NCT in the ANF “totally roadless” except for where it crosses larger bodies of water on road bridges.

“The final priorities are outreach based,” Toole said. “The ANF Chapter would like to revamp their existing hike program to have more varied offerings, including some guided hikes for the disadvantaged. Chapter member events that will introduce new members to other members and the ANF are also planned.”

Anyone looking to get involved with the ANF Chapter can learn more at northcountrytrail.org/trail/pennsylvania/anf/ or at the Chapter’s Facebook page.


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