NEWCOMB, N.Y. — The 400-mile trek of a radio-collared moose named Alice is the inspiration for a proposed hiking trail from Ontario’s forested Algonquin Park to the heart of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.
Planners of the A2A — Algonquin to Adirondack — Trail liken it to Spain’s famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, with the added benefit of preserving an important wildlife migration corridor between two vast wilderness regions.
“This is one of last great migration routes. It’s an area where wildlife can regenerate itself,” said Emily Conger, chair of the trail committee for the A2A Collaborative, the Ontario-based nonprofit conservation group behind the project.
Still in the planning stage with no definite route, the A2A will combine existing trails and roads following the general track taken by Alice, a moose radio-collared by New York wildlife workers in 1998 and released in a remote forest area in the central Adirondack town of Newcomb.
For two years, researchers tracked Alice as she swam across lakes, traversed the U.S. Army’s Fort Drum, swam the St. Lawrence River and loped across Canada’s busy Highway 401 before eventually reaching the 3,000-square-mile Algonquin Park, where she died of unknown causes. Her remains were found in 2001.
“We want to create a trail system that is not only a destination, but also elevates the concept of wildlife corridors and connectivity of landscapes,” said Sarah Walsh, with New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation who serves privately as A2A’s volunteer president. “People will be able to experience the way Alice made this journey.”
The Adirondack section of the trail most likely will start in Newcomb at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, a nature center where the College of Environmental Science and Forestry tracked Alice. From there, it will meander through hardwood and evergreen forest interspersed with bogs, streams and lakes.
A tentative plan includes 192 miles of existing hiking trails, 56 miles of rail-trail, 60 miles of main roads and 115 miles of back roads. Coordinators plan to engage communities along the route to provide amenities for trail-walkers.
Conger envisions something similar to the 375-mile stretch of the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain that she walked in 2014, starting in the rugged Pyrenees and traveling through villages, vineyards, farms and forests. Along the way, pilgrims were welcomed into cafes, shops and inns in communities that had a thriving tourist industry because of the trail.
“The A2A can bring a similar economic boost for small towns in northern New York and eastern Ontario,” Conger said.
A series of trail-promoting events is in the works along the Canadian section starting this fall, with a goal of seeing the full route completed in five years, Conger said.
Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, which has been building and maintaining trails in the region for more than 90 years, said the A2A Trail is feasible but will take considerable resources. The club hasn’t been asked to work on the A2A, but for the next few years, Woodworth said his organization is committed to building the Adirondack leg of the 4,600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail that stretches from North Dakota to Lake Champlain.
Walsh concedes that the A2A Trail has many obstacles outside the park boundaries, but the organization will work with civic groups, greenways, land trusts and others to design a route that communities will embrace. She said the Appalachian Trail, maintained by 31 trail clubs and many partnerships from Georgia to Maine, provides inspiration.
“It took decades to complete the Appalachian Trail,” she said. “We’ve only been working on this for less than two years.”
Ferns grow along the stone walls and trails of trails at Pequotsepos Nature Center. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Judd’s Bridge Farm is a sight to see along the old country roads of Roxbury. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Visitors can do a loop hike around a farm field next to the park. The field was recently hayed. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
There are two trails at Kathan Woods preserve, a blue trail and yellow trail. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A maple tree with the trail bridge over the East Aspetuck River in New Milford. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Several dead trees seem to rise from the depths of Chapman Mill Pond in Westbrook. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
An old chimney still seems to stand guard at the abandoned Camp Francis in Kent. Read more about this location here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A ladder helps visitors climb to the top of “Tipping Rock” at Hewitt Farm. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The view north from the Goshen Land Trust’s Mountain View Preserve. Read more about it here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A large tree grows around the boardwalk in Groton along the Old Trolley Bed. Read more about it here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A white blaze marks the “old forest” loop trail at Whitaker Preserve in Somers. Read more about this hike here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The Henry David Thoreau Bridge and its yellow pine timbers from below at Hidden Valley Preserve in Washington, Conn. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A new segment of the Air Line Linear Trail crosses over Pine Brook heading toward Bolton. This is part of the Charter Oak Greenway. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Beavers have dammed up a stream and created a pond at the Avalonia Land Conservancy in North Stonington. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Another view of the Truss bridge across Pootatuck River in Sandy Hook. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A sign identifies the foundations of a vehicle maintenance garage at the old CCC Camp Hadley in Madison. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
A trail sign directs hikers where to go on the Naugatuck Trail in Woodbridge. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Wadsorth Falls in Middlefield during the height of a cold snap last week. Find out more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Meadows State Park in Haddam is so much more than just a boat launch. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Along the boardwalk (sorry, you can’t go under it), anyone can enjoy the experience of dipping their toes in the water, sifting through a pile of colorful slipper shells or sitting on a bench and watching a gull dismember a crab that had washed ashore. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Take a trip along the 5.5-mile-long Naugatuck Trail to Egypt Brook and Beacon Cap in Beacon Falls and Bethany. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
The 2-mile-long loop trail is mostly along grassy surfaces with a moderate hike to the top of Cider Hill. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Spiderweed and Hubbard Brook are in the southeastern portion of the city along a busy Route 9 and near Pratt & Whitney’s Middletown plant, but once inside the natural world it all disappears. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The trail begins along the banks of the river near its outlet into New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound. Read more here.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary with more than four miles of trails is part of more than 2,000 acres owned by the Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Pleasure Beach was formerly known as “New England’s Cony Island.” Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
The Air Line trail stretches over 20 miles through Portland, Willimantic, and other Connecticut towns. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
The preserve was created when Rufus and Leslie Stillman donated 40 acres in 1978. An additional 37 acres was donated by Nancy Danaher in 1997. Read more here.()
In addition to the fields, the property includes wooded areas along the southern and northern portions of the parcel. Huge maples and oak trees grow along stone walls that twist and turn along the undulating hills overlooking the Hammonasset. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Views from the top of Chauncey Peak include the Hanging Hills and the skyline of New Haven and Long Island Sound. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Welcome to Branford’s Ecology Park – formerly known as “Mount Trashmore,” where residents brought their trash for decades, contractors dumped their debris and garbage trucks made countless trips to the top to empty their containers. Read more here.()
An area of the Roxbury Land Trust’s 56-acre Brian E. Tierney Preserve known as “the cascades” near the site of an old saw mill. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Sheep Farm, named for the sheep that once grazed on the property, was purchased by the Groton Open Space Association in 2010. Since then the group has been trying to restore some of the fields and meadows that have become overgrown. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Take Wilbur Cross Highway, or Route 15, to exit 58. Follow Route 34 to Route 110 across the Housatonic River. Take a right at Indian Well State Park and follow to the railroad crossing. A small parking area is near the tracks. Visit sheltonconservation.org and click on “trails” for a map of the mountain.(Peter Marteka)
The southern end of the New England Trail, a national scenic trail that runs from Long Island Sound in Guilford to the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. This is the southern terminus at Chittenden Park in Guilford. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
The Shenipsit Trail in Marlborough offers a path that goes along local roads for several miles, bringing hikers to a place they can safely cross the highway at a nearby bridge.(Peter Marteka)
The Mount Hope River, flowing low in July, travels through Iron Mine Valley Preserve. Also in Ashford, Pixie Falls boasts rushing waters for hikers to enjoy. Read more here.(Peter Marteka)
Macroni Site is home to one of the highest points on the Outer Cape, giving it one of the best views not only of the moors and dunes along the Atlantic, but also out to Cape Cod Bay. Read more on Cape Cod hikes here.(John Woike)
Dividend Park in Rocky Hill has expanded its acreage, trails and its popularity. Read more.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The Manmade And Natural Mix In Scantic River State Park. Read more.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The 140-acre Lilly Preserve connects to the 24-acre van Deusen Preserve which connects to the 59-acre Baldwin Preserve. My connect-the-preserves journey began at Baldwin after traveling down the dirt portion of Lower County Road off Route 317. Read more.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
The Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s Mattatuck Trail which travels through the heart of Litchfield Land Trust’s Prospect Mountain Preserve. Read more.(Peter Marteka)
The Madison Land Conservation Trust is sponsoring Trail Hike Challenge. Participants will be able to hike 22 of the trust’s trails and find stamps to win a hat. Story and photos.(Peter Marteka)
The 198-acre Hoffman Evergreen Preserve in the northwest corner of Stonington may resemble Canada, thanks to Robert Hoffman, who uses his property to plant over 100,000 evergreen seedlings. Story and photos.(Peter Marteka)
The 605-acre Kettletown State Park is home to charcoal hearths, overlooks and stunning beauty of gorges along Kettletown Brook. A 125-foot dam overlooks the manmade Lake Zoar, offering amazing views. Story and photos.(Peter Marteka)
The trail resides on what used to be a railroad line running through the state. Today, it is a often flooded trail, with improvements in the works featuring improved drainage and stone dust. Story and photos.(Peter Marteka / Hartford Courant)
Read Peter Marteka’s column about this hike and see pictures here. (Peter Marteka)
Next time you’re tempted to do that hike, don’t. You can get your kicks on the other side of Route 66 instead, high across a traprock ridge known as Beseck Mountain. Included in the journey are stunning views across the bottomless Black Pond, an overlook from the top of a revitalized ski slope and the sight of Long Island across a shimmering Long Island Sound. Read more and see pictures here. (Peter Marteka, firstname.lastname@example.org)