Weeks Forest Carriage Trail
For many years the Conservation Commission has envisioned a network of public trails in Guilford with the goal of building appreciation for our natural resources. Much of our work has laid the groundwork for this vision. We have organized monthly walks to explore our natural resource and historic landmarks. We created a guide and map of Guilford’s recreational resources for our town’s 250th anniversary. We researched and documented several Guilford “ancient” roads for reclassification to Legal Trails or Class IV roads on our town road map in 2015. We worked with our Planning Commission to write the Natural Resources section of our Town Plan, which included the goals of developing public trails and a Trails Committee in our town.
In 2015, the Windham Regional Commission chose Guilford and neighboring Halifax as their focus towns for a Forest Stewardship Grant. In addition to identifying and mapping our forest resources, Jeff Nugent, GIS specialist at WRC, met with our GCC to review our existing legal trails and to help us envision their development in light of our forested lands. Jeff suggested we begin with a short trail, close to the center of town, and accessible to people of all ages and walking abilities.
We chose the existing 0.4-mile trail in Weeks Memorial Forest, a 175-acre property donated by the Anthony family to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) with a conservation easement from the Vermont Land Trust. We received permission from NEFF to develop the trail and applied for a “tiny grant” from the Association of Vermont Conservation Commissions (AVCC) in 2015 to map and improve the trail, create a trail guide linked to waypoints along the trail, and install benches. We received the $500 Tiny Grant in June 2015 and spent the next 12 months working with many partners and volunteers on mapping, research, and trail work.
On July 2, 2016, we held a well-attended grand opening of the trail. A reporter from The Commons joined the opening and wrote this feature story.
You can read a full summary of our early work on the Carriage Trail in the “success story” we wrote up for the AVCC website. It includes many photos of the trail in progress.
The Weeks Forest Carriage Trail has become a treasured spot for appreciating Guilford’s natural beauty and cultural history. The Conservation Commission continues to print our trail guides for the mailbox at the beginning of the trail and supplies a journal in the mailbox at the end of the trail for visitors to share their reflections. We also do trail maintenance, keeping the trail clear of fallen trees and branches, regularly removing invasive plants, adding stepping stones to wet areas, and even building a new bridge where a former culvert had failed. We’ve also led many walks on the Carriage Trail, including annual walks for seniors arranged by Guilford Cares.
The kiosk at the trailhead includes this Carriage Trail Map, NEFF Trail Use Guidelines, and Guilford Road Map showing Weeks Forest’s location. Copies of our Carriage Trail Guide are available at the trailhead mailbox and at the Guilford Free Library and town office.
Although the Conservation Commission oversees local use of Weeks Forest, many partners are involved in its ownership and management. In 2020 these partners met to discuss the history of the property and the responsibilities of different users. Our notes from that meeting will be useful to those with questions about Weeks Forest.
Other Guilford Trails
The Conservation Commission supports the formation of a Guilford Trails Committee with representatives from all of our commissions and interested residents. We have discussed many trail possibilties and would like to serve as a partner in their development.
In addition to the Weeks Forest Carriage Trail, several other trails in Guilford are open to the public throughout the year for non-motorized recreation: