INSIGHT

Making (and Keeping!) Nature Accessible in the Upper Valley

Blog Author - Flossy Courtemanche
Flossy Courtemanche

The natural world is so much a part of our lives in the Upper Valley, it’s easy to take for granted the countless opportunities we have for enjoying activities in the great outdoors. 

A photo of Jay's Peak in the Green Mountains of Vermont

image credit: From the nek ccsa by 3.0

If your house is surrounded by woods or a stream naturally runs right through your property, nature is just there. Your enjoyment of it doesn’t require much thought.

Sometimes, however, nature needs a little help, especially if we want to go on enjoying it for generations to come. Fortunately, the Upper Valley has a wealth of volunteers who work to construct and maintain networks of trails, conserve land for public enjoyment, and organize outdoor field trips. Let’s get acquainted with five nonprofit organizations that work to enhance our access to the joys of Nature.

  • Upper Valley Trails Alliance. Any time you want to go for a hike in the Upper Valley, you can go to the website of the Upper Valley Trails Alliance and find a trail that suits you. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced hiker. It doesn’t even matter if you want to hike indoors or out. UVTA has you covered. In addition to providing trails information, the UVTA also coordinates the maintenance of existing trails and assists with the construction of new trails.
  • Friends of the Northern Rail Trail. At present, the Northern Rail Trail is 48 miles long, starting at Spencer Street in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and ending at Webster Place off Route 3 in Franklin, New Hampshire. Plans are in the works, however, for the trail to be expanded to 59 miles, and it takes both the New Hampshire State Parks organization and a host of volunteers to keep the trail in good shape. Friends of the Northern Rail Trail coordinates trail development in five towns, and is dedicated to the conversion of the Northern Rail Corridor. Their efforts no doubt played an important role in the Northern Rail Trail being voted one of the 100 Top Trails in the United States by the Rails to Trails Conservancy in Washington, DC.
  • Hanover Conservancy. This group’s goal is to conserve land and water in the town of Hanover, New Hampshire, but everyone in the Upper Valley benefits from their efforts. Since its formation in 1961, Hanover Conservancy has assisted with the conservation of more than two thousand acres of land. They currently own and maintain the Mink Brook Nature Preserve, parts of the Balch Hill Natural Area, the Mayor-Niles Forest, the Tunis Brook Mill Lot, the Slade Brook Natural Area, and the Greensboro Ridge Natural Area.
  • Mascoma Chapter of New Hampshire Audubon. If you love birds, then you have to love this local organization, which coordinates bird watching field trips in spring, summer, and fall, and hosts presentations at Howe Library, in Hanover, New Hampshire, throughout the winter. The group is partnered with the National Wildlife Federation, and all their field trips are free and open to the public.
  • Green Mountain Club. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, in 1910, the Green Mountain Club created and now maintains the Long Trail, 272 miles of trails that run through Vermont, from the border of Massachusetts to the edge of Canada in Troy, Vermont. The Long Trail follows the ridge of the Green Mountains and passes through several Upper Valley towns. Volunteers with the club not only maintain the trail proper, but 166 miles of side trails and 70 backcountry campsites.