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Into the Woods Along the Windham Path

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

By Michael Ryan

WINDHAM - A trail of a different sort may become available to visitors of the Windham Path following talks and walks involving local government officials and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Windham town supervisor Thomas Hoyt, in a recent phone interview, said DEP is amendable to allowing their property, located adjacent to the Windham Path, to be accessible for natural strolls.

The new looping footpath could measure as long as a mile-and-a-half while minimally disturbing the existing woodlands.

It would not officially be part of the Windham Path, which is set on 76 town-owned acres, but would be easily reachable by the public and geographically connected.

“We are very optimistic this will happen,” Hoyt said, noting he walked the prospective trail with a DEP staffer, last week, and a local resident.

That resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, would pay for any town costs associated with the project, likely limited to signage, etc.
“This is quite a unique venture,” Hoyt said, noting he has spoken to DEP Bureau of Water Supply assistant commissioner David Warne, getting blessings to begin the legal process.

“We have started filling out the required application, checking all the boxes. Hopefully this can get done by the late fall,” Hoyt said.

“This is an idea that has been out there for a couple of years. It would be similar to what there is now at Elm Ridge and High Peak.

“DEP has been very cooperative on numerous trails like this throughout the watershed. If you love the outdoors, this is a great spot,” Hoyt said.

Other than a small clearing, the new trail will be barely visible, not intended for bicycles, etc., and keeping in mind the four-legged neighbors.

Visitors would most-easily use the main Windham Path parking lot, along Route 23, turning left on the Path, heading easterly.

Then heading south, toward the Bataviakill, walkers would cross over two footbridges, shortly thereafter coming to a hemlock forest (on their left or their right if they access the Path from Route 296 and covered bridge).

Once in the woods, the trail would wrap around the property (known locally as the Dent farm), swerving toward Route 65 and the Chase family lot.

“It gets kind of marshy in there so we’d be staying away from that, circling back toward the Path and bouncing over a little ravine, two skips and a jump from an abandoned gravel bank,” Hoyt said.

“There is a good-sized beaver dam as you meander through the forest and all sorts of wildlife. In fact, we came upon some white-tail deer.

“They looked at us and hopped away. They weren’t frightened. There’s all sorts of wildlife. We’d have educational signs (at the outset), identifying what you see as you walk.

“Some of the DEP lands are off limits. There are good reasons for them to be sensitive. Some tree branches would be trimmed, so you don’t get poked in the eye, and any hazards on the trail will be removed.

“Otherwise, it will be left the way it is today,” Hoyt said. “There are a lot of different bushes. It is definitely quiet in there.

“No big equipment will be used for the clearings. We would need trail-markers. Once it gets established, the trail will be easy to follow.”

And similar to walking trails established at C.D. Lane Park in the hamlet of Maplecrest, the trail would be accessible in the winter as walkers deepen footprints in the snow.

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