Blogs > Trails

Building a Community by Building a Trail

June 15, 2017

Where better to start a hike than at the beginning? This summer, those hiking section one of the New England National Scenic Trail (NET) in Massachusetts will experience the newly constructed boardwalk at Rising Corner Road in Southwick, where they will also have the opportunity to view the newly placed memorial to Pat Fletcher. Pat was the longtime Trails Committee Chair of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Berkshire Chapter, and face of the New England Trail to many.

Memorial stone dedicated to Pat Fletcher
Memorial stone dedicated to Pat Fletcher

On June 3, the New England Trail community marked National Trails Day at Rising Corner Road with a celebration of the new boardwalk and a commemoration of Pat Fletcher’s contributions to the trail. AMC, the National Park Service, the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club and the Town of Southwick joined together with friends and family to reflect and share stories of Pat’s dedication, enthusiasm, and his ability to share his love for the trail with all those around him. The day culminated in a hike of section one led by the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club, which maintains this section of the NET.

NET Superintendent Charles Tracy and AMC Berkshire Chapter Chair Jan Nettler share their stories of Pat Fletcher.
NET Superintendent Charles Tracy and AMC Berkshire Chapter Chair Jan Nettler share their stories of Pat Fletcher.

The Rising Corner trailhead serves as the southern entry point to the Massachusetts stretch of the New England Trail. South of the state border, the NET continues to Long Island Sound under the stewardship of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association.  In 2009, the 42-acre trailhead area was permanently protected by the Town of Southwick with $300,000 in Community Preservation Act funds. Pat Fletcher was a staunch and productive supporter for this project and personally mowed the property, taking care to ensure that it was an inviting and well-maintained trail access location.

National Trails Day Hike on the New England Trail led by the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club
National Trails Day Hike on the New England Trail led by the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club

In fall, 2016, AMC and the Pioneer Valley Hiking Club completed a milestone project here by replacing failing bog bridges with a 200-foot floating boardwalk across a scenic wetland area, greatly enhancing the ability of visitors to enjoy this section of trail. This project was completed with financial support from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and $70,000 from the Town of Southwick Community Preservation Act funds.

Volunteers and members of AMC’s professional trail crew construct the boardwalk.
Volunteers and members of AMC’s professional trail crew construct the boardwalk.

The New England National Scenic Trail is managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club in partnership with the National Park Service, public and private landowners across the length of the trail, and hosting communities, including Southwick. To learn more about the New England Trail please visit newenglandtrail.org.

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