Newly organized Shelburne Trails Club gains momentum


October 13, 2010
SHELBURNE —"This trail ascends Middle Mtn (2010 ft), an interesting peak that offers a few good views, but at present it is severely overgrown and can be recommended only for hikers who are experienced in following obscure trails and routes."

So reads the 1998 White Mountain Guide description of the Middle Mountain Path, a trail that runs from Mill Brook Road in Shelburne 1.7 miles to the summit of Middle Mountain. In the next edition of the White Mountain Guide, this description was cut altogether, the trail was deemed too overgrown for following.

Thanks to the effort of group of dedicated volunteers, this trail, as well as others throughout the town of Shelburne, has been reclaimed. The group of volunteers that reclaimed this trail has now become formerly organized as the Shelburne Trails Club (STC).

"It was breaking my heart to see trails deteriorate and get lost," said Dick Lussier, a Shelburne resident, active hiker, and now president of the STC. Dick had periodically undertaken the informal maintenance of his favorite trails, such as those up to Mt Crag.

The origins of the STC are found in the increased interest from Shelburne residents in trail maintenance. In 2009, Ian Carlisle, for his Eagle Scout project, organized a series of work weekends to restore the Middle Mountain Path. Over 30 people turned out for these weekends in total.

Meanwhile, a loose group of six Shelburne residents began to refer to themselves as the "Shelburne Outing Club," skiing on logging roads in the winter and bushwhacking up old trail routes as well as adopting, as a group, the Appalachian Mountain Club's Austin Brook Trail, that runs from North Road in Shelburne to the Appalachian Trail. At the same time, the Philbrook Farm trails (Yellow, White, Red, and Blue trails) were needing help and maintenance.

When the first Shelburne trail meeting took place on May 24, 2010, the invitations went out to parties interested in trails and Shelburne's trail heritage, to preserving trails that had been lost to neglect. The turnout was a crowd of 20, and generated an email list that is now pushing 60 names. At that meeting, the group reviewed the work to date, reviewed the trails that had previously existed, and set a list of priorities for work for the summer season. They also began calling themselves the "Shelburne Trails Club."

Since that meeting, there have been dozen of work weekends, some organized by Dick through an email to the group, but some done by individuals on their own. They have reclaimed the Bowl and Pitcher loop, the Scudder Trail, the Middle Mountain Trail, the connector between Mt Cabot and Judson Pond, and are working on longer loop trails over Middle Mountain and Mt Cabot, including making an eight mile loop out of the Scudder trail. They are also working on view maintenance on other Shelburne summits, such as Crow Mountain.

The Scudder Trail, a trail with incredible views of the Androscoggin Valley, is an example of the unique heritage of Shelburne. It was named for Veda Scudder, a Harvard academic who would travel to Shelburne in the summertime in the early 1900's, and stay at a cabin at the Philbrook Farm, and take to the hills from there.

The STC's work has not gone unnoticed. "I cannot go through a day without someone commenting and thanking us for what we are doing," said Mr. Lussier. "The community support has been amazing."

"We wanted to get more residents more active in their mountain trails," said Larry Ely, now the formal Vice President of the STC. As the Club nears maintenance for 30 miles of trail, they are thinking ahead.

"You have to maintain what you build," said Mr. Lussier. With input from the community, the STC hopes to continue to maintain the trails they have reclaimed. "These trails have been around for years and to lose them is to lose a bit of the area's heritage."

On September 30, the STC became organized, accepting a set of bylaws. The group remains informal, with a small Board of Directors, and with informal work weekends to continue what they have started. The STC is aware of their potential partnerships, with other mountain clubs such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Randolph Mountain Club, as well as with the US Forest Service. One example of an already existing partnership with the AMC is regarding signs, through AMC and STC member Bob Pinkham. For more information on the STC, contact Dick Lussier at dlussier@att.net.

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