From July 30th to September 27, 2019, five crews of six SCA NH Corps members worked on the White Dot and White Cross Trails in Monadnock State Park to improve hiking conditions and safety by addressing high need maintenance issues. The goal of the work was to provide trail users with more footing and route options while narrowing the trail corridor and reducing erosion. Project work included the construction of stone staircases, setting step-stones, maintaining and repairing drainage features, and restoring impacted areas along the trail.
The SCA NH AmeriCorps program completed five 11-day hitches to address high priority maintenance issues, as outlined in the Monadnock State Park Management Plan, on the most trafficked trails within the park. In addition to the 2003 Management Plan, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) commissioned a 2013 trails assessment that identified areas of highest need and from that came the project priority list that informed both the need for RTP funding and the SCA’s scope of work.
There is a great deal of wear and tear on trails within Monadnock State Park as it is claimed to be one of the most hiked mountains in North America, and according to the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development’s website it’s “the nation’s most popular uphill hike”. The majority of the 100,000 annual visitors begin their journey at park headquarters and head up the White Dot Trail before descending the White Cross Trail back to the parking lot. According to the Monadnock State Park Management Plan “at peak periods on the White Dot and White Cross Trails a steady stream of hikers stretches from top to bottom with several hundred hikers on the summit at the same time.” This high use has led to a very wide and eroded trail corridor that reaches 20 feet in width for stretches and has user- created braided side-paths that weave around challenging and high congestion spots. Hikers on the two trails must navigate exposed tree roots, slippery steep rock slabs, and jumbled rocks resembling a dry stream bed created by the heavy erosion of soil. These trail conditions have led to hiker injuries and recurrent medical evacuations. With this concentrated use, the impetus of this work was to improve hiker safety and overall visitor experience.
The SCA New Hampshire AmeriCorps Program is a partnership between the Student Conservation Association, The New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Since 1994, SCA NH Corps has provided nearly one million hours of service to the lands and people of New Hampshire. Each year, 30 full time volunteers contribute more than 50,000 service hours, providing environmental education programming to the state’s residents and visitors, and completing conservation service projects that improve and protect the state’s cultural, recreational, and natural resources.
The mission of SCA NH Corps is to serve the communities and lands of New Hampshire while building the members’ leadership and technical skills in the conservation field. In the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the program’s members perform direct hands-on service while developing their worldview of environmental stewardship and citizenship. These highly motivated young adults enhance and protect natural areas through environmental education, interpretive programs as park naturalists, and conservation stewardship projects across the state.
The SCA NH Corps received volunteer assistance on two separate occasions. The first group was from Eversource—the local energy company. These individuals worked alongside crew members to reopen a closed section of trail. The second volunteer group consisted of students from Franklin Pierce University who assisted with a rock staircase on the White Cross Trail.
2019: Lassen Peak Trail