PMA opens new hiking trail in Dummerston

DUMMERSTON — The Putney Mountain Association (PMA) announces the official opening of its newest hiking trail, extending 5 miles through ridge-top hardwood and hemlock forest from Vermont's third largest ash tree near the Putney town line south to Prospect Hill.

Since 1991, PMA has been working to connect its extensive trail network to the Prospect Hill trails in Dummerston, and this new trail - the Missing Links Trail Project - represents one of the final pieces of that puzzle.

The project has succeeded in gaining trail access to eight parcels of land “through the generosity of public-spirited landowners,” as described in a news release. In addition, two land parcels were purchased and conserved with more than 200 gifts from local residents and major grant funding.

Following the work of the acquisitions committee to create a corridor, the physical work of building trail started in 2020.

First, a trail was laid out by Dummerston trail builder and designer Roger Haydock. Winding through many habitats, the trail passes through old sugarbush with a vast understory of ferns, past 175-year-old hemlock, over streams, over ledges, past cliffs, and through wet areas with dense vegetation.

The current northern end is marked by an ash tree that stands more than 5{1/2} feet in diameter. Trail construction was led by PMA board member Richard Fletcher one to two days a week from March 2020 to October 2020, then from May 2021 to October 2021.

A group of more than a dozen devoted volunteers cut and improved a trail that PMA describes as “one of the most beautiful hiking trails” on its network.

As described in the news release,“sweeping vistas along the northern half of the trail overlook Black Mountain to the south, and offer gorgeous views of the West River valley and the southern Green Mountains.”

“While we are delighted by the arrival of this long awaited goal, there is still work to do,” the PMA said. ”Ironically, there are still missing links to the Missing Links!”

Project organizers said their first priority “is to connect the current northern end of the Missing Links Trail at the large ash tree to Holland Hill Road, where it will join the Hannum and Dine trails, which lead north to the Putney Mountain Summit, achieving our long-sought goal of joining Prospect Hill and Putney Mountain.”

After that, they say they have “an even more ambitious goal of trails connecting the final mile or so between Prospect Hill and Black Mountain. Our trail builders are ready if we can find a route.”

The PMA has not had a formal trail opening party or ribbon-cutting ceremony due to the pandemic, “but please take a celebratory hike at your own convenience,” project organizers write.

The trail can be accessed from two points.

• To access the southern end, park at the Dummerston Town Office and walk about {1/2} mile north on Park Laughton Road to the “Trail” sign on the left, designating the start of the Prospect Hill trail.

Follow the trail to the top of the hill and through the field, heading west until you see the trail turn into the woods to the north. Then follow the white discs and signs.

• The trail can also be accessed at its midpoint via a new trailhead near the end of Hague Road in Dummerston marked “Missing Links Trailhead.”

For maps and further information about the PMA and its trail network, visit

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