On December 13, 2014, in Uncategorized, by admin

Waterville Valley is defined by the rugged topography of the surrounding mountains and dense forests, but it is the trails that wind through the mountains that make the place as we know it possible.  In the beginning, the trails brought a few hearty settlers along the banks of the Mad River to a relatively flat and fertile plain in a sheltered vale.  Soon after, the same trails were widened to support stage traffic, and the early tourists found their way up from Campton to relief from the sweltering cities of the industrial revolution.  Later still, the stage track widened and allowed open touring cars with wooden-spoked wheels to come for a week or more in the summer.

By the late 1800s, outdoor enthusiasts, using the old Waterville Inn as a base of operations, had begun laying out one of the earliest hiking trail networks in the country.  Climbing in hobnailed boots and woolen jackets and surprisingly voluminous skirts, these early trampers found sensational views and a sense of solitude and rejuvenation on the trails of Waterville.  A core group of hikers returned each summer, and soon formed the Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association.  A hundred years later, the WVAIA still does a fine job maintaining and improving the local hiking trails.

The 1930s and the Great Depression saw the Civilian Conservation Corps descend upon the Valley, cutting a first one, then a second ski trail on the flanks of Mount Tecumseh.  The second Mount Tecumseh Trail was popular with the sturdy skiers of the day, who hiked up and skied down for several runs a day.  The trail also hosted popular walk-up races each winter.

In the early 1960s, when Olympian Tom Corcoran was contemplating constructing a destination ski area in the White Mountains, he and ski trail designer Sel Hannah concluded that the long sloping ridge of Tecumseh’s White Peak were the perfect pitch for both racing and recreation.  Crews of French Canadian loggers cut the modern trails in 1965, incorporating the 1937 CCC trail in what we now know as Old Tecumseh.  Waterville Valley’s combination of classic New England trails and broad slopes, including the steeps of Sunnyside, soon made the area among the most popular in the East.

Today, Waterville Valley remains the jumping-off point for an abundance of hikes including five Four Thousand Footers, and for all kinds of winter recreation including nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking.  We’re all anxiously awaiting the first new trails at the Waterville Valley Resort in decades, due in 2015 with the Green Peak Expansion.  In an era of interstate highways and transoceanic flights, it’s somehow comforting that trails are still very much what define Waterville Valley.

In this spirit, the Waterville Valley Foundation is pleased to announce that, with your support, we’ve continued to invest in Waterville Valley’s trails.  We’re very proud of the fact that the first phase of the restoration of Greeley Ponds Trail was completed this fall.  In partnership with the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation, the WVF was able to fund important work to revive this venerable trail after it was devastated by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.  The Greeley Ponds Trail, closed to the public for three years, is now open as far as the old Knights Bridge, and you can continue on up the trail’s new route along the Timber Camp Trail.  Work to reconnect with the Ponds was well underway this fall, and we’re looking forward to the trail’s full return in 2015.

In 2014, the Waterville Valley Foundation was thrilled to partner with Waterville Valley Realty and the newly formed Pemi Valley branch of the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA) to create over a mile of intermediate-level singletrack trails on the north end of the valley floor.  The Riverside Trails offer tight, twisty fun within easy reach of Town Square.  The trail, which repurposes land once occupied by the Waterville town dump, yields new surprises every time you ride it — the iron hoop of an old wagon wheel, patent medicine bottles, and pottery shards have worked their way to the surface. The trail loops tightly through a stand of trees on the floodplain behind the High Country condo complex.  It’s just technical and rolly enough to provide a great workout without a lot of climbing (where climbing is typically the bane of every Waterville Valley mountain biker’s existence).  You can also pull to the side of the trail along the Mad River for a few minutes of solitude or a quick picnic.

The new trails are accessible from the Mike’s Dream cross country trail.  At the south end, you ride down from Osceola Road on Mike’s Dream and watch for the trail entrances right and left.  From the north end, enter Mike’s Dream just before the West Branch bridge below the Waterville Valley Academy and Osceola Library, and watch for the trail entrance on the right.

See you on the trails!