Thursday, July 5, 2018

"Trail Rerouted Many Times, But Always Saved"

Three versions of the Paugussett Trail at Birchbank
The recent discovery of a survey map from 1990 provides a perfect example of how the Paugussett Trail route has changed over time.  The brown dashed line on the map above was the "Blue Dot Trail" at that time, according to the survey map.  The old route approached the overlook, and included a set of rock steps that still stand today. Note that the overlook was private property at that time.

In the early 1990s, the entire trail was shifted down the steep hillside due to several pending subdivisions. That reroute is mostly shown as light blue on the map (now blazed blue/white) and dark blue to the south. This route was inferior to the original route, both for scenery and footing. At the time, the Trail Managers were unsure where the new houses were going to be built and where the new open space might be located, so they simply moved the trail far down the hill to get away from it all.

In 2015, the trail was moved back up to the top of the ridge, closer to the first route. The overlook and rock steps are once again part of the trail. The latest route has the better footing and scenery of the 1990 route, but is shifted further from the new-ish houses where needed.

Birchbank Overlook, restored in 2015.

The Paugussett Trail has been rerouted many times over the years because the original route crossed private property with only verbal agreements. Impending subdivisions kept Trail Managers scrambling to find alternative routes, especially during the building boom years of the 1970s and 1990s.

Birchbank Overlook Trail Registry Entry from an Old Timer

A number of people have been curious about where the old route at Birchbank was. For the most part, it has vanished, but because there are a few remnants of old blue blazes scattered about, people keep looking. The survey map below settles the question near the overlook.

Filed Map #2685
Near the overlook, the current route is the best of the three. But what about to the south? That is very steep, rocky terrain. We've found part of that route, too, but that's for another blog post. 

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