Freedom — October 15, 2009 — Hikers can now enjoy a new trail in town, which was recently created by the Scarboro Ridge Association and about 50 volunteers. The Scarboro Ridge Trail runs from Old Portland Road and across Prospect Mountain. The other side of the trail begins on Rice Hill Road.
The trail would connect Old Portland Road to Rice Hill Road, but one landowner has not yet given access permission for a tenth of a mile of trail, said one of the lead trail blazers, Sally Stoops, 76, of Freedom.
That section is in the middle of the trail near a cliff, said Stoops. In all, about 10 landowners have given permission, said Stoops. Each end of the trail was laid out last year and the middle was cleared in August and September. In all, 53 people worked on the trail, said Stoops.
Major contributors to the trail blazing effort were Scarboro Ridge Association’s secretary, Jack Middleton, and volunteer Mike O’Brien, said Stoops. The Scarboro Ridge Association is in the process of attaining nonprofit status. The aim of the organization is to take care of the land.
Association member Jennifer Molin is one the original organizers of the Scarboro Ridge effort. She also helped Trout Pond conservation project. Trout Pond is a 1,984-acre piece of open space in Freedom and Madison. It includes a 21-acre trout pond.
“The trail building was fun,” stated Molin in e-mail. “There was lots of camaraderie and word of it spread, so there was help from people I did not know.”
Molin said during her first hike she began to cry when she saw a view that seemed to go on forever. Anyone hiking along the trail last week would have experienced the colors of the fall foliage season. The forest canopy was mostly a rich green but some of the trees were turning bright yellow and just few were crimson. In some places, fallen leaves made a long red carpet that stretched along trail.
“It looks terrific with the foliage going,” said Stoops during hike last week.
Along part of the trail, the grade is steep. Luckily, there are many large stones and stonewalls along the trail for people to sit on. But anyone looking to take a break on stonewall need to watch out for barbed wire. Decades ago, the land had been farmland for livestock, Stoops explained.
At one clearing near the top of Prospect Mountain,one can view Ossipee Lake and several of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains. On a clear day, Mount Washington can be seen, said Stoops. The trail is fairly wide and mostly free of obstacles. The volunteers marked trees along lower ends of the trail with pink ribbons. Trails are marked with piles of rocks in higher elevations where the tree population thins. The trail is “wonderful” for snowshoeing in the winter, said Stoops.
Molin said she wanted to put the experience she gained working on trout pond to use on another project. She and several other residents, including Chuck and Heloise Depew, Katie Gove, Ned Hatfield, and Sally and Bill Stoops decided to work on the Scarboro Ridge Trail.
Originally, the trails organizers planned to ask landowners for a conservation easement to allow hikers on the trail. However, they found asking for permission to use the land for a trail would be less expensive and easier for the landowners, said Molin.
“Chuck Depew and I had the experience of making Trout Pond a successful project, so we knew that you can make the almost impossible possible,” added Molin. “To us this was a piece of cake in comparison of what we had done before.”