Pictures and Story by Larry Gomes
In spite of record rainfall in late June and early July, work on the new high-elevation parking lot on Cates Hill Road is now complete. The new parking lot was a joint effort between the WMRR club, the Mt. Jasper sub-committee and the City of Berlin. The new parking lot will be used year-around providing a new route to Mt. Jasper.
The current hiking trail starts at the Berlin High School parking lot at an elevation of 1,064 feet and rises in elevation to the summit at 1,569 in about 3/4 of a mile with a maximum grade of 30% at one section of the trail.
The new high-elevation trail starts at an elevation of 1,640 feet, then goes up to 1,665 feet before dropping down to 1,423 feet and then rising back up to the summit at 1,569 feet over the distance of 1 mile with a maximum grade of 21%. For those of us who are bit older, this new route is much easier to walk in and out. You still get a workout, but it is spread out over the entire hike rather than being all uphill followed by all downhill.
The new parking lot will also be plowed in the winter so snowmobilers, cross country skiers and snow shoe enthusiasts will have direct access to the trail from the parking lot without going out into the street.
Funding for the new parking lot came from many sources. A Tillotson Grant administered by Sally Manikian paid for the moving of the fence across the front of the landfill and for the creation of the parking lot. Funds from the White Mt. Ridge Runners were used to relocate the trail and to purchase new gates. The Berlin Water Works donated some base fill for the parking lot. Matt Godbout from MG Construction donated several extra hours of excavator time to assist with the moving of the fence and the installation of the gates. Several volunteers showed up at various times to cut back brush and help with the moving of the fence and the installation of the gates.
The next step involves reworking the existing snowmobile trail so remove water running across the trail and install bridges where needed. Once that part of the project is complete, members of the Appalachian Mountain Club will scout out and mark the new hiking trail to Mt. Jasper. Part of the trail will follow the snowmobile trail and other sections will be set up for hiking only.
New Mt. Jasper
high-elevation parking lot with re-routed snowmobile trail in the distance.
In the winter,
this parking lot will be plowed into the fence and the groomer will use that snow to create a trail across
the front of the parking lot so trail users can leave right from the parking lot without going into the road.
One of the two new gates
that were installed on either side of the parking lot to prevent wheeled
vehicles from accessing the trail.
This wet area will freeze in the winter so it will not be a problem for snowmobiles. In the summer, the hiking trail will be routed
around this wet area. The snowmobile trail that heads south towards Mt. Jasper is visible in the distance.
Map showing all the trails
in the Mt. Jasper area. The green trail is the approximate route of the
new high-elevation trail.
The blue trail shows the existing hiking trail from the Berlin High School parking lot. The red trails are existing snowmobile trails.
Our thanks go out to everyone who participated in the creation of this new parking lot. The remaining excavator work on the snowmobile trail is scheduled to be completed by the mid-August and we hope to have the new high-elevation trail marked in time for the fall hiking season. Stay tuned to the WMRR website for more updates.