N.H. Trail Clubs on Display at PSU Museum

July 16, 2015
Ryan SmithVisitors can go inside a full-size, Adirondack-style hiking shelter at the Museum of the White Mountains.

Since 2007, AMC Trail Crew members have built new backpacking shelters in the White Mountain National Forest at Kinsman Pond, Eliza Brook, and Garfield Ridge. This spring, with assistance from members of the Cohos Trail Association, they added another shelter to that list—not in the forest but in central New Hampshire. Indoors.

You can venture inside this full-size, Adirondack-style log shelter at Plymouth State University’s Museum of the White Mountains, in Plymouth, N.H., where it serves as the centerpiece of a new exhibit. Trail Clubs: Connecting People with the Mountains is set to run through March 6, 2016.

The shelter—which arrived at the museum in more than two dozen pieces before being assembled in half of a day by eight to 10 current and former trail crew members, museum staff, and volunteers—was donated by John Nininger of The Wooden House Company, based in Wells River, Vt., Nininger worked on AMC’s trail crew and as a shelter caretaker in the 1970s.

The exhibit celebrates the trail clubs, as well as the professional and volunteer trail stewards, who created and continue to maintain the region’s extensive trail networks. Additional exhibit components include trail signs; hiker registers, such as a stretched goatskin version from the Randolph Mountain Club‘s Crag Camp; hiking guides and maps; crosscut and bow saws from the Chocorua Mountain Club; and a wood-and-canvas AMC packboard.

A companion booklet recognizes the work of these and other area organizations, including the Wonalancet Out Door Club, Chatham Trails Association, Dartmouth Outing Club, Squam Lakes Association, Trailwrights, and Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association. “This variety brings enormous strength to the enduring work of mountain stewardship,” writes the Randolph Mountain Club’s Doug Mayer in his introduction.

The booklet also recognizes the clubs’ longtime partnership with the White Mountain National Forest, as well as state agencies, such as the New Hampshire Division of Forests & Lands and Division of Parks & Recreation, and private organizations such as the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, for their roles in trail stewardship.

Catherine Amidon, the museum’s director and a former AMC hut croo member, oversaw the exhibit’s creation, along with curators Ben Amsden, director of the PSU Center for Rural Partnerships; Mike Dickerman, publisher of Bondcliff Books; and Steve Smith, owner of the Mountain Wanderer Map and Book Store. (The latter two also edit AMC’s White Mountain Guide.)

Given that it’s built of cedar, the exhibit’s log shelter should survive the elements for quite some time—and it will have that opportunity. When the exhibit closes, the Cohos Trail Association plans to transport and reinstall the shelter alongside the club’s namesake northern New Hampshire trail, for use by hikers and backpackers.


Find hours and directions, as well as more details about the “Trail Clubs” exhibit, at the Museum of the White Mountains website or call 603-535-3210.

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Rob Burbank

Director of Media and Public Affairs
(603) 466-8155