December 20, 2013
Students, faculty, and staff recently celebrated the completion of a new 250-foot-long boardwalk on a popular trail in Skidmore’s North Woods. Construction began in the beginning of the fall semester, and the last decking boards were nailed down in December.
The North Woods are a treasured regional resource that the Skidmore and Saratoga Springs communities use and care for together. Joint projects have ranged from trail maintenance to removal of invasive plant species; the new boardwalk is just the latest improvement spearheaded by the North Woods stewards.
Kana Miller '14, Eliza Hollister '15, Stephen McCann
'15, and Jenna Frank '14 (L-R)
Last summer stewards Meghan Burke ’13 and Eliza Hollister ’15 saw the need for improvements to a perennially muddy section of the Red Trail. The stewards knew that the wet stretch of the Red Trail can be difficult for people to walk through—but when hikers walk around it, they contribute to trail widening and eventually the creation of new trails, which compact the soil and damage roots and plants. To help hikers stay on the existing trail, Burke and Hollister researched boardwalk construction methods, volunteered with community organizations to identify the most practical design, and then wrote a proposal for installing a new boardwalk. Their plan earned the support of Skidmore’s Facilities Services, the Environmental Studies Department, and Sustainable Skidmore. The brand-new boardwalk now provides a high and dry path, making the area safer for hikers while protecting the areas alongside it from erosion and improving forest health.
Many Skidmore and Saratoga Springs community members collaborated to make the boardwalk a reality. Saratoga’s Allerdice hardware store generously donated the majority of the lumber used in the project, with help from Ken Ivins, a longtime friend of the North Woods. Throughout the fall, Hollister coordinated workdays that connected faculty and staff with the students from both the Skidmore Student Conservation Corps and an environmental sociology course. The work parties bolted frames, added decking, and stabilized the boardwalk until the project was complete. Dean Phillips, project manager in Facilities Services, played a key role in designing, planning, and construction—including teaching basic building and work-safety skills, providing plenty of experiential learning for all the volunteers. Levi Rogers, with Skidmore's sustainability office, says “We are very thankful for the support from our community, and we welcome anyone to enjoy the trails in the North Woods. Be sure to follow the Red Trail loop to see the recently completed project!”
Download a trail map here.