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Maintaining Popular Hiking Trails

  • Location: Camels Hump State Park
  • Year completed: 2022-2023
  • Project areas: Trails Project
  • Partners/sponsors: Partner: Green Mountain Club

Among Vermont’s most popular hiking trails, the Burrows Trail on Camel’s Hump is being rebuilt from the top down. 2022 and 2023 VYCC crews worked in collaboration with Green Mountain Club and Northwoods Stewardship Center to do the work.
Overuse of this popular trail has increased impact on the ecosystem and caused excess erosion. Keegan Tierney, VYCC alumnus and current Director of Field Programs at Green Mountain Club, said of the Burrows Trail: “It’s just being loved to death.”

Crews are re-establishing the trail to be wider than originally constructed, but narrower than what recent overuse has caused. They are rebuilding damaged stairs and widening drainage structures.

Following rigging and rock-setting training the 2023 Pro Trails Crew moved in and set up camp (under a special permit) for a 5-week stretch. The crew harvested rocks and built staircases and check steps about 1.6 miles up trail from the trailhead. They hauled in a griphoist and set up a highline to fly rock from their nearby quarries.

Pro Trails was led by Lydia Yuhas. Returning to VYCC after leading in the fall of 2021. Lydia shares:

“I came back to trail work after some time in outdoor education. This season, I had the absolute pleasure of taking a highline rigging course. VYCC provided it for me. It was intense but it was absolutely astounding. I got to use the highline and taught my Members how to use it on a high use, steep alpine trail. I’m really happy, now that I’ve got a lot more experience and new skills I can take into other jobs. Knowing that you can do something, and do it to the max, and do it fantastic is a really good feeling.”

An introductory trails crew joined the efforts on Burrows Trail for a week. They built three check steps: large, flat rocks used in heavily eroded areas of a trail to prevent future erosion and bring the trail tread up to a better height. The crew also removed and rebuilt a waterbar, and improved a second waterbar. This is challenging work that requires the crew to find and move heavy rocks, set them so they are stable, and pound crushed stone in and around to ensure they stay in place.

While the crews’ efforts were cut short by July’s heavy rains and flooding, their work demonstrated the effectiveness of these structures in directing the flow of water during severe weather events. 

Above: Pro Trails crew in wet conditions. Below: before-and-after of one staircase the Pro Trails crew built.