Van Loan Preserve gets addition of new spur trail

Who builds the walking trails in our town of Bedford? For the past 25 years or so, most of the trails in town have been built by volunteers such as Eagle Scout candidates, scout troops, cross-country ski groups, Heritage Trail volunteers, Pulpit Rock Sub-committee members, or by organizations like the Bedford Land Trust.

The most recent addition to our town’s trail system is at the Van Loan Preserve – a spur trail built by Brian Nolen, a trustee of the Bedford Land Trust. The conservation easement that the BLT holds on the town-owned property allows the trust to create and maintain trails. When beaver activity increased at the northwest boundary of the 68-acre property, parts of the Anna & Pic Loop trail and Riddle Brook Overlook became impassable due to regular flooding. Brian searched for an alternative wetland overlook that was not affected by the robust beaver community. In November 2016, a new spur was established leading from the Anna & Pic Loop approximately 1/10 mile to an open view of the southwest wetland. This trail starts near the junction of the Anna & Pic Loop and Hemlock Loop.

Once a new trail is established, it is customary to name it! Because of the rich history of the Van Loan family owning and preserving the land as open space for over 40 years, it is fitting to honor members of the family. (The family donated the land to the town in 2011, but the BLT still holds the conservation easement on it). Recently, the Board of Trustees of the Bedford Land Trust voted unanimously to name the new spur trail "Gene’s View" in honor of Eugene M. Van Loan III, who served many years as Bedford’s town moderator and school district moderator.

Who built the Van Loan Preserve Trails? Beginning in 2006, the BLT partnered with local scouts and the Appalachian Mountain Club to build a network of trails at the Preserve. Scouts from Bedford’s Troop 414 spent nearly 250 hours clearing brush and developing walking trails. Under the leadership of then Eagle Scout Candidate Artie Murphy, the scouts successfully opened up access to the Preserve from North Amherst Road to Riddle Brook and built an information kiosk. To continue the project, the Trust contracted with the Appalachian Mountain Club to design and build the trail corridor, which included clearing brush and trees, construction of the bridge over Riddle Brook from trees felled onsite, installation of bog bridging and drainage structures, and removal of obstructions from the trail base. Eagle Scout candidate Carl Benes then constructed additional bog bridges, blazed the trails, and created the wooden signs along the trail system. The cost of the project was approximately $17,000 – funds raised by the Bedford Land Trust with a generous donation from the Van Loan family. The latest scout effort occurred in 2016 by Eagle Scout candidate Mac Chen and Troop 414 who repaired and replaced a number of bog bridges along the trail.

After the trails were officially opened in May 2007, it was possible to walk from Muller Park on North Amherst Road – through the Van Loan Preserve – to Benedictine Park for a one way distance of approximately 0.8 miles. Now it’s possible to enjoy the land’s natural beauty by checking out yet another trail – the new spur trail "Gene’s View." For more information about this trail or the BLT, please visit: www.bedfordlandtrust.org.

Submitted by Jeanene Procopis Trustees of the Bedford Land Trust