Ravine Trail Project
By Matt Coughlan
The newly-built Ravine Trail sponsored and funded by the White Mountain Trail Collective is located in the Pine Hill Community Forest (PHCF), a 500+ acre property in North Conway, NH. PHCF is owned and managed by the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and surrounds the Kennett High School property. The Ravine Trail traverses both properties and will provide multiple recreational and educational benefits to the local community and students at the high school.
PHCF sits in the heart of the Conway area and provides connectivity to the surrounding communities and other existing trail systems and conservation areas. It sits on a large block of land including Pine Hill between Route 302, Route 16 and the Saco River. It contains some mountain bike trails (which the high school mountain bike team uses to train), a snowmobile trail, and the Conway Rec Path. The 2-mile Conway Rec Path starts at Smith-Eastman Landing and travels along the Saco River, then turns north to Kennett High School. The new Ravine Trail will connect to the Rec Path and provide another one-mile connection around the school’s ballfields to Eagles Way, where a future trailhead parking area will be built. A future extension will also provide connection to Redstone, Green Hills Preserve, and North Conway shopping areas.
The Ravine Trail is the first addition in a development plan that will provide further connectivity, expanded multi-use and mountain bike trails, a hiking trail to the summit of Pine Hill, and extensions to the Rec Path for cross-county running loops. The trail was originally identified and laid out by local surveyor and PHCF Management Committee member Doug Burnell. It was confirmed as a primary opportunity in a 2019 feasibility study done by Recon Trail Design, and funded for construction in 2021 by the White Mountain Trail Collective.
The Ravine Trail is a 5-foot-wide multi-use gravel path that accommodates all non-motorized uses. Along the northern half it traverses along the rim of a steep, wooded ravine utilizing some existing trails and woods roads. Students from the high school are designing and building interpretive panels that will be installed along this section for use in natural science classes. The southern half continues along the rim of the ravine and around the sports fields, where it then crosses through another ravine with several hundred feet of granite retaining wall and a 30-foot bridge providing access from the fields to the high school parking lot and the Conway Rec Path.
The defining feature is the section of trail that passes through one of the ravines. In order to build a trail through the ravine, a series of granite retaining walls were required to access a bridge site spanning a small stream at the base of the ravine. The granite stones were contributed by the Conway School District, which made this section of trail possible. We were honored to work with these stones, since they contain a special local history themselves.
The 3000-pound plus slabs were originally cut from the nearby Redstone Quarry in the late 1800s and likely moved up to the property by oxen to build the foundation of the Nash House. The property where Kennett High School sits today was at that time the site of a popular mineral spring, and the Nash House ran a bottling plant throughout the early 1900s. The unique gazebo that housed the mineral spring is still located near the school today. The Nash House burned down sometime in the 1970s, and when the high school was built about 15 years ago, the large granite slabs were moved and stored in a pile on site. We were fortunate to be given access to this historic resource and provide the stones new life by using them to build retaining walls and bridge abutments. Our crew spent many hours splitting, moving and shaping these slabs to build structures that make this trail a unique and beautiful addition to the property that will last for many years to come.
Recon Trail Design, LLC is a full-service trail planning and construction company based in western Maine and the Mount Washington Valley of New Hampshire. Matt Coughlan grew up in central Maine and got his start in trails as an AmeriCorps college intern at Kingdom Trails in northeast Vermont. Prior to starting Recon Trail Design, he worked for The Nature Conservancy of Maine, the Student Conservation Association, U.S. Forest Service Bridger-Teton District, and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. In 2019, he managed the Crawford Path alpine-restoration project for the White Mountain Trail Collective.
Meet J.D. Greenfield - Marketing Strategist & Web Guru
Location: Greater Boston Area
Start date with WMTC: June 2019
Why I’m involved with the WMTC: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been adventuring up to the White Mountains—backpacking in the summer, hiking in the spring and fall, and skiing in the winter. Beyond the countless memories with family and friends, the trails have been a seemingly infinite source of humility, challenges, and peace. I realize now, that comes at a significant cost, and it’s time for me to attempt to return the favor. Working with the team at WMTC allows me to give back in a way that has an impact bigger than anything I would be able to do on my own.
Interests/activities: Backpacking, canoeing, hiking, skiing, running, golfing, woodworking, cooking, photography
Favorite muscle powered activity to partake in: It depends on the season!
Favorite trail in the Whites and why: There are plenty, but I have to go with Chemin Des Dames. Long story short, hitting that trail-marker was the moment my brother and I realized we were not where we meant to be. It was the third and final clue—hiking through a ravine for 3 miles and staring at Crag Camp to our west were the first two. It made for an interesting rest of the day (and night) but ultimately an awesome October hike and memory.
Favorite piece of outdoor gear: Right now, it’s a tie between my Benchmade 940, Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Drip, and Marmot Limelight 3P
Favorite color: A piney green (something like #006644) or a good charcoal (like #5A5B5D)
Something most people don’t know about me: I’m apparently not good at picking favorites!
Best meal I’ve ever had while camping or out on the trails: I have to go with my second night on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway—steak cooked on cast iron over the fire, broccoli in the coals, mashed potatoes, and a glass of Woodford bourbon… that or any time the Mountain House Beef Stroganoff has come out.
Three words that describe how I feel when I’m out on the trails: Humble. Wild. Free.
Life before the WMTC: On weekdays, I’m a marketing technologist and the Head of Product at Blue Green, a small but mighty marketing agency in Cambridge, MA. Since I joined Blue Green in 2016, I’ve worked on and lead a number of client engagements including the likes of TIAA, Clover (Fiserv), Vyze (Mastercard), hayu (NBCUniversal), and the American Cancer Society. My work there is vast, but generally centers around user experience and conversion optimization, through experimentation and analytics.
Trail Maintenance 101:
A Hoe By Any Other Name (Hazel, McLeod, Travis...)
By Olivia Carle
We use a variety of hoes in our work, both maintaining and building trails. Here’s a short primer on some of the ones you’re likely to find us using out on in the Whites.
The hazel hoe can be used to move dirt and debris as well as remove some roots. It is a term that is frequently used interchangeably with “adze hoe,” although the USDA, “Handtools for Trail Work” 2005 edition distinguishes between the two. These hoes often come with shorter handles and run on the heavier end.
The McLeod was originally designed as a wildland fire tool by Malcolm McLeod, a forest ranger, in 1905. Now trail workers use it as well to move dirt, rake debris, remove some roots, and tamp dirt. When removing most rocks and larger roots, it is best to find another tool, but they are nice and light and do especially well when used while finishing tread work.
The Travis Tool by Rogue Hoe, which is an incredible multi-functional tool that can be used in both trail maintenance and trail-building. Every edge is usable and comes very sharp. These tools can chop roots, move soil, rake leaves and debris, pry rocks, and tamp down dirt.
Both the 55 and 70 HR Hoe/Rake by Rogue Hoe, similar to a McLeod, have beveled edges that make for better cutting.
It’s very true that a good hoe can do a lot for a trail, and you’ll find experienced trail workers switching fast from edge to edge and corner to corner on these tools as they work!