Independence Day is a Blast in New Hampshire

Crotched Mountain Dedicates Unique Accessible Trail System

GREENFIELD, NH - Crotched Mountain Foundation and Rehabilitation Center dedicated the longest fully-accessible trail system in a mountainside environment in America on June 24, 2011. The culmination of a three-year project, over two miles of trails were designed by renowned trail builder Peter Jensen with a goal of providing universal access to people of all ages and abilities. The new trails are fully compliant with the outdoor trail accessibility standards adopted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Two distinct trails provide diverse outdoor experiences. One rises 200 feet in elevation to a highland knoll that provides panoramic views of the Monadnocks, the Contoocook River valley, Western Massachusetts and the Uncanoonuc Mountains in Goffstown. The second trail meanders through a variety of forested and wetland areas, where viewing platforms allow observation of wildlife including beaver, deer, moose, bears, porcupines and many other upland species.

“Experiences like this are usually unavailable to people who rely on wheelchairs  and other aids for mobility or who have other physical impairments,” said Don Shumway, president of Crotched Mountain. Shumway sees another important aspect to the new trail system. "As our population ages, more and more seniors will want access to outdoor recreation activities at a level that’s appropriate for them,” he said. “This new trail system provides that."

The accessible trail system is part of Crotched Mountain’s outdoor recreation master plan, which envisions the campus as a destination for people of all abilities to enjoy a variety of mountainside and waterside recreational activities throughout the year.

Crotched Mountain is in the process of placing over 80 percent of the center’s land—some 1,256 acres surrounding the campus--under a conservation easement, guaranteeing it will never be developed, thus protecting local watersheds and preserving a large area of biologically diverse woods and forest for the use of future generations.

A highlight of the event was the dedication and opening of the Gregg Trail, which reaches the highland knoll and honors the family of Harry Gregg--founder of Crotched Mountain--and their long commitment to conservation and people with disabilities. Gregg’s son, NH Governor Hugh Gregg (1953-1955), served as chairman of the Harry Gregg Foundation, an affiliated corporation of Crotched Mountain,which provides financial support to individuals in New Hampshire with physical, intellectual or emotional disabilities. Grandson Judd Gregg was governor of New Hampshire (1989-1993), U.S. congressman (1981-1989), and senator (1993-2011), roles in which he was a consistent and active supporter of Crotched Mountain’s mission and a champion of environmental protection. Judd Gregg also served as president and a trustee of the Crotched Mountain Foundation. 

Judd Gregg and members of the Gregg family were assisted by students from the Crotched Mountain School, located on the campus, in cutting the ribbon to open the trail. The students at the Crotched Mountain School have many types of disabilities and many use wheelchairs for mobility.

Over 100 people attended the dedication event. They included the directors and trustees of the Crotched Mountain Foundation, students and patients from the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, leaders from New Hampshire land protection, outdoor recreation and disability organizations and agencies and donors to this project. Over $500,000 needed to build the trails was raised from private sources and grants. Included among the donations was a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Dana Reeve visited Crotched Mountain in 2008 when Crotched Mountain dedicated its wheelchair accessible treehouse which the Reeve Foundation supported.

Beyond its mission to serve people with disabilities and their families, Crotched Mountain has long maintained an award-winning commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship. Crotched Mountain received the 2009 Lean and Green Award from NH Business Magazine for demonstrating sustainable processes resulting in increased efficiency and savings. The organization also received the 2006 Land Ethic for Tomorrow Award from the New Hampshire Land Surveyors Association for making unique and significant land-use decisions based upon accurate and complete land information gathered and used in an advanced and innovative manner. Among the innovations instituted at the center’s campus in recent years are a state-of-the-art biomass heating system that burns wood chips from New Hampshire forests to provide heat and hot water to the entire campus. An innovative wastewater treatment system, which is the first of its kind permitted in New Hampshire, uses a submerged attached growth bioreactor (SAGB) coupled with on-site trench and drip dispersal system to minimize the amount of clear cutting and trenching required. A campus-wide student-centered recycling program recycles 150 tons of fiber and scrap metal, 240 cubic yards of mixed containers, and multiple hazardous wastes and electronics every year.

Crotched Mountain Foundation is a charitable organization whose mission is to serve individuals with disabilities and their families, embracing personal choice and development, and building communities of mutual support. Crotched Mountain provides specialized education, rehabilitation, community, and residential support services for more than 3,000 people, including individuals with disabilities and the elderly, living in New England and New York. For more information about Crotched Mountain, please visit www.crotchedmountain.org.