Haystack trail upgrades finished

12 years ago

Haystack trail upgrades finished


Staff photo/Kathy McCarty

    RECONSTRUCTING STEPS along the trail up Haystack Mountain in Castle Hill is Chris Moody, a member of the Maine Conservation Corps team assigned to perform upgrades to the popular hiking site.

Also assisting with the recent project were students and staff from Loring Job Corps and staff from the Aroostook State Park. Upgrades will allow easier passage up and down the mountain, with improvements including removal of debris and better drainage.

By Kathy McCarty
Staff Writer

    CASTLE HILL — Outdoor enthusiasts visiting Haystack Mountain will now have a much easier climb, following the completion of recent upgrades to the trail by members of the Maine Conservation Corps, volunteers from Job Corps and staff from the Aroostook State Park.
    “The work was all part of re-establishing the trail to make it safer for recreational trail users. This will stabilize the tread for years to come,” said Scott Thompson, director, Aroostook State Park, who oversees the Haystack site.
    In addition to clearing brush and rubble from the trail, drainage troughs were also added to move water away from the trail.
    “Water bars were added to deflect water from the route up the mountain. There are about 12 water bars. Work was also done on 40 steps. There was literally tons of rock moved, with some moved as much as 75 yards using a grip hoist,” said Thompson. “Others were gripped or drug by hand — moved individually and set into position.”

Staff photo/Kathy McCarty
    A LEISURELY WALK was the plan for the day, NE-Haystack-c5-shar-38 as Shannon Kornachuk and her dog, Zero, traversed the trail at Haystack in Castle Hill recently.

    Rocks were moved to designated points, with dirt packed around them, creating steps for easier climbing.
    Thompson said crews worked over a month-long period reclaiming the popular recreational route.
    “You’d be surprised the amount of debris and glass that we removed. We promote a carry-in, carry-out policy, in an effort to prevent illegal dumping and animals spreading trash,” said Thompson, noting unfortunately there are those who choose to disregard the policy.
    Thompson said outdoor recreational opportunities like the trail at Haystack are made possible through funds  made available through the Recreational Trail Program grant and other sources.
    “Public support is also welcome,” he said.
    In addition to work at Haystack, Thompson said the MCC and volunteers are also finishing up improvements to the trail at Deboullie.
    “We want to re-emphasize that the trails are here to use. Haystack is one of the gems of northern Maine, featuring cleared hiking trails. Vern Labbe and a crew have been working Deboullie. They’ve done an amazing job there to improve the quality of hike,” said Thompson.
    Thompson said work at Haystack addressed the “most severe sections.”
    “Our goal was to have it re-brushed and the trail re-blazed in time for fall foliage season. It’s a win/win for the community,” said Thompson, noting he’s had visitors at Aroostook State Park from around the world this year. “We had visitors from Thailand, Denmark, England, as well as North America, including guests from Connecticut, Wisconsin and Ontario.”
    Thompson said Haystack provides a rare opportunity for hikers to see the opportunities available in the County.
    “It’s a fairly strenuous hike — one-third of a mile to elevation, just under 1,200 feet. There’s a tremendous view of the area, from wooded forests to the West, economic/business opportunities to the East and the agricultural belt. You have all of Aroostook’s big business in one fell swoop,” said Thompson.
    Lindsay May served as MCC team leader.
    “This is my third project this year. I have six on my team here, counting myself,” said May.
    May said it’s a great opportunity for team members to experience something beyond their home states.
    “My crew this season, no one’s from Maine. Members are from Wisconsin, Texas, New Jersey and New Hampshire. Becoming a member involves an application process — an Americorps position,” she said.
    Participants aren’t in it for the money, said May.
    “We receive a living stipend. Because of the Americorps connection, participants get an award at the end of the year that can go toward school tuition,” said May.
    The educational experience is what attracted David Tardie, masonry instructor at Job Corps, and his students to volunteer their services.
    “We try to find as much community service as we can for our students to be involved with. My students have worked with Dixie Shaw and Catholic Charities, local schools, Cary Medical Center and other agencies over the years,” said Tardie. “Working here at Haystack is a great opportunity for my students to use what they’ve learned in class to restore a trail that many will benefit from.”
    Bob Soucy, of Connor, hit the trail prior to work being completed.
    “This is my second time climbing Haystack. I saw this on the news and wanted to check it out,” said Soucy.
    Shannon Kornachuk, of Mapleton, and her dog, Zero, also enjoyed a hike up the mountain.
    “It’s nice what they’re doing,” said Kornachuk.
    Thompson said the improvements will benefit hikers for years to come.
    “Though maintaining the trail is an ongoing project, the work that’s been done will make the trail more user-friendly for years to come. A lot of hard work has gone into area trails in the past month, with work continuing into October at Deboullie. These efforts make these sites more attractive to visitors and will help us market one of our greatest resources, the natural beauty of northern Maine,” said Thompson.