The Joy of Hometown Trails

As a child, I didn’t pay much attention to the trails (if there were any) in my hometown of Victor, New York, a suburb of Rochester. For a good portion of my childhood, I lived in town and roamed the streets with my friends on bikes. It wasn’t until I was twelve when I began to roam the woods because my parents moved our family to the “country”, five miles out of town. To have freedom as a teenager meant riding my bike into town or walking the woods. I didn’t think about it at the time but we were fortunate to live across the street from over 300 acres of woods with two small lakes, known to me as the Fairport reservoirs, now Boughton Park. One particular trail that led to the lake’s dam was my spot of comfort and peace when my teenage life was troubling me.IMG_6690

Recently, I had the chance to share that spot and the trails in the park with my own kids when I returned to my hometown after many years. While in Victor, I hiked a different trail each day getting to experience the natural beauty of my hometown that I had never paid attention to as a kid. Some of the trails I hiked didn’t exist in the 70’s and 80’s; however, many have been built since, due to the efforts of Victor Hiking Trails.

Since 1991, when the organization was established, this all volunteer trail organization has built 65 miles of trails in Victor, three of which provide a connection to long distance trails in upstate New York. Victor Hiking Trails builds trails by seeking grants such as the National Trails Fund, an American Hiking Society (AHS) stewardship program that funds building and sustaining trails across the United States.

At a 2012 AHS board meeting, I was excited to learn that my hometown of Victor had a trails organization and that staff and fellow board members had chosen Victor Hiking Trail’s proposal to build a large bridge connecting two long distance trails, the Auburn and Lehigh Valley, with the Domine Trail, a small circuit in a green space. This year, Victor Hiking Trails was awarded another AHS National Trails Fund grant to rebuild a heavily damaged bridge that connects the trailhead to multiple circuits in Fisher Park. When finished, this bridge will give hundreds of families access to a network of trails that allow parents to share time with their kids on a trail.

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Boardwalk to be repaired with funds from a 2016 National Trails Fund grant.


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The bridge constructed from a 2012 National Trails Fund grant.

[/column]I am thankful to the many volunteers in Victor who established a hiking organization 25 years ago and for their support of American Hiking Society. Furthermore, I am grateful for the sweat equity Victor Hiking Trail’s volunteers have expended to build and sustain trails for the diverse needs of their community.

Jennifer Chambers
Board Chair, American Hiking Society
VCS ‘88