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Got it done!Trail groups highlights ‘23 work and looks ahead to ‘24

Photo provided to the TImes Observer One of the programs offered by the ANF Chapter of the North Country Trail Association was an introduction to backpacking weekend.

A new partnership resulted in a 1.3 mile reroute of the North Country Trail this year.

This year the ANF Chapter of the North Country Trail Association worked with a new partner – the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

And it was an effort that resulted in getting a section of trail off of a road and back into the woods.

“The Chapter worked closely with the Corps, Collins Pine Company, the NPS and the NCTA to work out details of the 1.3 mile reroute that removed 1.0 mile of road walk along Branch Rd south of Kellettville, PA,” Tina Toole explained.

“The reroute travels through the Kellettville Army Corps Campground, into beautiful forests, past the remains of a late 1800s lumber mill and along Branch Run,” she explained. “The collaboration between the numerous groups helping to make the Kellettville reroute happen was an exciting effort to be a part of!”

Getting the reroute approved is just a piece of the puzzle, though. The trail still has to be built.

Toole said that seven Pitt Bradford students and eight from the Allegheny College Outing Club aided 24 additional volunteers in the effort.

“The enthusiasm and hard work of the students allowed the Chapter to complete the reroute and build two bridges, a 14′ bridge and a 10′, box bridge in only two days of work,” Toole said.

While that might have been the biggest project of the year, there’s always routine maintenance to be done.

“It takes a community of volunteers to help maintain 100 miles of trail,” Toole explained. “Ninety-four different volunteers helped to clear the trail, improve the drainage, build and repair bridges, construct reroutes and build two new shelters.”

Toole also highlighted the governmental agencies that assist in the effort – the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service – as well as the broader North Country Trail Association.

“Both the NCTA and the NPS provide training, support, insurance, supplies and equipment to the ANF Chapter to help them carry out their efforts,” Toole said. “The U. S. Forest Service is another big partner in the effort of promoting and maintaining the Trail.

“They provide support, training, equipment and supplies and storage space for tools. The Forest Service reviews the environmental aspect of new construction by the Chapter and helps them place structures and new trails in the appropriate spots.”

In addition to the A-100 hiking challenge held over the summer, the ANF Chapter holds monthly hikes and the Dec. hike is set for Sunday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. at the US 6 trailhead located about two miles east of Ludlow.

Toole said hike details can be found on the chapter’s Facebook page and website.

“Total participation in the yearly hikes so far is 140 people,” she said. “This year the Chapter offered a few special hikes; an Interpretive Hike: Foraging for Mushrooms, an Introductory Backpack Hike and a National Trails Day hike with refreshments. All were very successful.”

2024 looks to be as busy as 2023.

Toole said the Chapter “hopes to build two big bridges in the Tracy Ridge Area, construct three reroutes, refurbish trailhead kiosks and paint blaze 25 miles of trail” next year.

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