DANFORTH — A proposed hiking trail project for in the East Grand Lakes area is continuing to take shape.
The project found its roots in a meeting late last summer between the Greater East Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce and the CORE group that is trying to help increase student enrollment with an outdoor education program at the East Grand School.
“We all felt that the area lacked outdoor recreation infrastructure that could help with CORE’s endeavor with the school, help to improve community health by providing a trail system for hiking, as well as help local businesses draw and retain clients,” said Mike Saunders, one of the organizers of the group. “I volunteered to chair a committee for the chamber to look into the feasibility of building a hiking trail complex.”
Since then the group has worked with a large land owner in Danforth to gain acceptance to the project and have finalized a land use license for the trails.
“I was also able to partner both the chamber and the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust to sponsor the project,” Saunders said. “The Land trust gives us added visibility among their membership, a source for additional volunteers and a 501(3)(c) organization that we can write and receive grants through. These 2 organizations have committed $2000.00 each to the project.”
The group has also formed a steering committee consisting of teachers, students and local interested community members. The committee has met twice so far and has been working on: pricing for the project budget, building a volunteer list with contact info, informing the community of the project, set work party dates, and plan the phases of work to be completed.
In addition, trails for Phase 1, Phase 2 and part of Phase 3 have been flagged and the trailhead parking area on Route 1 has been built.
“We have also cleared the overlook picnic area and and built the trail to access it,” Saunders said. “While flagging the trail that heads down to and around the southern end of Sucker lake I discovered this is a very beautiful area strewn with an abundance of fern covered glacial erratics of all sizes and some areas of majestic never cut timber.”
The trailhead is on US Route 1, just south of Danforth near the Greenland Cove Road. The trail leads to the top of the hill and then splits to circumnavigate Sucker Lake. There are designated areas for picnicking around the lake and also at the overlook area.
“We hope to open the Phase 1 hiking trail, overlook picnic area, and trailhead parking area around the last weekend in June with Phase 2 trails by late summer,” Saunders said. “The balance of the trails will be built over the next 3 years.”
The cost of completing Phase 1 and 2 trails, the trailhead parking area, map kiosk, overlook picnic area and overlook platform is estimated to be around $14,000. With the $2,000 from both the Land Trust and the Chamber, the $1,000 donation from CLIC and a $5,000 grant from the Davis Conservation foundation, the group has achieved about 70 percent of its goal.