25 years in the making, new trail connects two Monadnock Region peaksBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent April 11. 2018 11:13PM
KEENE — After more than two decades in the making, the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail project is complete.
The Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail Coalition that worked to establish the trail connecting the two prominent Monadnock Region peaks is planning a series of celebrations this year, including hikes along the 50-mile trail.
A kick-off party for the celebration is this evening at the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
After that, nine group hikes are planned along each section of the trail. The first is on Earth Day, April 21, at the start of the trail at Mount Wantastiquet in Pisgah State Park; the last is Nov. 3 at the other end of the trail — Mount Monadnock.
The trail is nearly 50 miles and runs from Mount Wantastiquet in Chesterfield to Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey and Dublin.
The Chesterfield Conservation Commission is also planning to honor Tom Duston of Chesterfield for his work creating the Wantastiquet-Monadnock Trail.
Duston said Tuesday he had the idea for the trail in the early 1990s, when he moved to Chesterfield.
When he met John Summers, an active member of The Friends of Pisgah State Park, the two began working on the project. The Chesterfield Conservation Commission, The Friends of Pisgah State Park and Monadnock Conservancy all helped along the way, Duston said.
Summers lived in Swanzey and Winchester before moving to Florida, according to Duston.
It took 25 years to create a trail on public land.
“It happened in fits and starts. Something would happen and then nothing would happen for a long time,” Duston said. “You reach a point where you don’t know where the trail is going to go because you don’t think there is a place to go, then you realize there is a place for it to go.”
Two small sections of the trail are on private land, but in those cases an easement was created, he said, so that change of land ownership will not affect the trail.
The trail uses many Class 6 roads and also takes advantage of existing trails such as the Horatio Colony Preserve and Cheshire Rail Trail in Keene, which leads to Gap Mountain in Troy. Other highlights of the trail include the Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield and Pisgah State Park in Hinsdale.
For more information on the hike dates at www.monadnockconservancy.org.