ATV’s Are Causing Damage to Popular Hiking Trails

 More signage need to mark trails

By Alan McIntyre
Nancy Robart, Jesse Schust, and Alan McIntyre, along with their pet pals, take a rest next to signs they posted on hiking trails that are being damaged by motorized vehicles.

One of the best local hikes can be found at the northern end of Elbow Pond. The Mountain Brook Trail (accessed from Elbow Pond road) is an easy and beautiful hike through privately owned conservation easements. Thanks to those property owners’ generosity and foresight, you and I are allowed to intimately enjoy a beautiful section of our watershed.

The trail follows alongside the murmuring brook up to a marvelous waterfall that you can explore and enjoy its chilly waters. However, the conservation commission had received reports of trail damage from four-wheelers earlier this year. Motorized vehicles are not allowed along these conservation trails. The landowners also noted that signage, informing users of the restriction, was lacking as well. So earlier in the month of July, Nancy Robart, Jesse Schust, and I decided to place a few “No Motorized Vehicles” signs at the entrances to the conservation lands and to investigate the damages.

We found a few old ruts and evidence of past vehicle use but nothing new.  It was easy to see how continued ATV use would erode and damage the soils along this sylvan path. However we are hopeful that with the new signs, serving as friendly reminders, the incursions will cease. We are lucky to have such beautiful lands, so in order to take good care of them the rules of use must be supported. So take a break this weekend and (re)discover the Mountain Brook waterfall.