Usage of the PRT: For those of us who use the PRT frequently, it is clear that the trail is being used much more than it had been even a year ago. While walking or cycling, one almost always encounters other users with diverse interests: bikers, walkers, birders, geo-cachers, fishermen, horses and their riders. Often a friendly conversation ensues.
The best way to quantify the increased usage can be seen on our group’s Facebook page (Friends of the Presidential Rail Trail), where a variety of messages and photos are frequently being posted. Our Facebook group has grown to 348 members as of October 2016.
In the media the trail has been listed in Visit NH, “10 Awesome Rail Trails”; the Boston Globe Sunday travel section; and by New Hampshire Grand.
Incorporation: At the PRT Executive Committee meeting in July, we had a long discussion about incorporation and seeking non-profit status. After investigating the process fairly extensively, we determined that it might be more practical to join forces with an existing non-profit. We communicated with the two most logical alternatives: the Randolph Mountain Club and the Coos Cycle Club.
As the RMC maintains hiker trails rather than multi-use trails like the PRT, the CCCs mission seemed a better fit for FPRT affiliation. This cycling group has recently incorporated, and is working on acquiring non-profit status from the IRS. To have two different cycling groups in Coos County seemed a duplication of substantial effort. The goals of both are to serve cyclists in the same area. Our group, with passionate touring bicyclists cooperating with a motivated group of mountain bikers, would create a stronger and more influential community.
The Board of the CCC, which is facing a very busy slate due to its recent incorporation, responded positively to our overture to join them as a self-standing committee, but asked to postpone any further discussion of affiliation until they have dealt with the current demands their club faces.
Maintenance: When blowdowns have been reported to us, various Friends have either been able to pull them out of the trail or to remove them using a chain saw. We have encouraged people to report blowdowns by using our Facebook page.
Friends have mowed the trail from the Dolly Copp (Pinkham B) Road westward to the Jefferson Notch Road, either by a tractor with a bush-hog attachment, or by a ride-on lawnmower. David Govatski hoped to be able to mow the section from Pondicherry east to 115A.
DRED has been approached to see if we can have access to a key for PRT gates so that a bush-hog could be employed west of the Jefferson Notch Road. They have promised to send us a formal agreement (MOA) to be signed.
The western abutments of the bridge over Israel’s River west of Bowman are showing deterioration. Photos of the tumbled granite blocks have been sent to John Scarinza of the Randolph Community Forest, who had said he’d send them on to DRED or whomever the appropriate authority is. If a repair could be made soon, we hope the cost could be held to the minimum. However, the eager beavers have subsequently flooded these abutments, and all was under water in early September.
Signs: 13 signs were successfully installed last spring. They are attractive, distinctive and informative. We were grateful to have had a donation from the organizers of the 2015 Randolph Ramble foot race that paid for the signs and donations of the posts.
In response to a comment from DRED director Chris Gamache that some of our signs were too close to the highway, we’ve investigated the appropriate distance (DOT’s right-of-way extends 33 feet from the highway’s center line, it seems). On consulting DRED’s local supervisor Clint Savage about the positions of the signs, he said several need to be moved further back. This has now been accomplished.
An additional sign should be posted at the snowmobile club junction on the southeast side of the Route US 2 overpass in Gorham, where snowmobilers already have an information kiosk, and several trails cross. DRED has installed a PRT gate to south of this junction, together with signs clearly prohibiting non-snow season ATVs. We will hope to have this new sign in place next spring.
Website: In addition to Facebook, our website friendsofthepresidentialrailtrail.org receives quite a bit of attention. The website has had over 7,300 visits, by a total of more than 2,000 individuals.
Organized Events on the PRT:
A Walking Tour in early August by FPRT, as advertised in the Berlin Sun and locally in Randolph, drew 12 participants (ranging in age from 12 to 84) on a walking tour eastward from the Dolly Copp Road down the Moose River to Gorham; all gathered for lunch at “Doc Hall’s Pool” on the Moose.
Top Notch Bike Weekend: Despite threatening rain, naturalist Nicky Pizzo conducted a successful tour of the PRT on Saturday, October 22, an event arranged in coordination with the Top of the Notch Inn in Gorham.
FRPT Future Goals:
Affiliation with the Coos Cycling Club.
Working with White Mountain ATV rentals to promote their new fat-bikes.
Erecting an informational kiosk at the parking lot in Gorham.
Continuing (and improving) maintenance of the trail in no-snow months.
Creating a map of the PRT for sale.
A long-term goal is to harden the trail’s surface between NH 115 in Jefferson eastward to Bowman, thus providing a safe route for road bicycles that avoids the narrow, dangerous portion of US Route 2 in Jefferson and Randolph.
Friends of the Presidential Rail Trail
Roberta Arbree, Randolph
Nancy de Courcey, Jefferson
Abby Evankow, Gorham
David Govatski, Jefferson
Douglas Grant, Randolph
Al Hudson, Pelham, MA
Judy Hudson, Pelham, MA
James Hunt, Randolph
Jamie Maddock, S Berwick, ME
Sue Maddock, S Berwick, ME
Gary Newfield, Randolph
Ben Phinney, Bozeman, MT
Guy Stever, Randolph