Brasher Connector portion of county trail system opening Aug. 13
By MATT LINDSEY
St. Lawrence County Trails organizers say the Brasher Community Connector portion of the St. Lawrence County multi-use trail will open Aug. 13 creating a fun activity for locals, an economic boost to businesses and the preservation of forestland.
Following years of work and planning, 32 miles of new trails will be opened to ATV, UTV, hikers, horses and mountain bikers, in the towns of Stockholm, Hopkinton, and Lawrence.The St. Lawrence County Trails Board was formed by the county in 2008 to create this trail for something for locals to do, create tourism money and protect the land through an organized place for people to ride, said Deb Christy, St. Lawrence County Trails coordinator.
“We started with a pilot trail system of 22 miles … we wanted to try it out before we got bigger…then we grew to 50 miles and will now have 82 miles of trails,” she said.
The trails will open for ATV users May 15 through Sept. 15 and year round for hikers.
Who Can Ride
“We wanted to open the trail to all … but since we started we found out there are more users than we realized,” Christy said.
They did not count on Jeeps and dirt bikes, neither of which are allowed on the trails, she said.
Riders must be 16 years old to ride the trail system alone, she said. Kids ages 10-16 can ride with adult supervision.
Christy said safety courses are recommended for young riders with safety being key to all users of the trail system.
Safety courses will be available in the fall and spring.
ATVs must be registered and insured.
Where To Ride
The multi-use trail is a combination of trails, roads and fields that begins at the North Lawrence playground on Church Street and follows the railroad bed to Barnage Road, to the White Road, across a property owner’s land, through Buckton and into the Fort Jackson Forest.
From there all-terrain riders, walkers and horses can travel to the Sheldon Road, across property owner land to the Green Road, to a county parcel leading to Hayden Road, then onto Catherineville Road, and ends on Picketville Road where the trail comes out at Lake Ozonia.
Maps will be offered at kiosks along the trail and at the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. Maps will be available at local businesses soon, Christy said.
A recreation trails website and phone app with ATV, mountain biking and hiking trails is expected to roll out next May. This was funded through a $40,000 grant from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency, Christy said.
Supporting Small Businesses
“The whole point of this was to help support small businesses,” Christy said.
In Helena for instance, the trail will “come out to within spitting distance” of the convenience store with stops near stores in Brasher and Hopkinton too. Christy said they are trying to get access to a store in Stockholm too, but nothing is available as of now.
In Hopkinton, Lamphere’s Market, 2798 U.S. Highway 11B, which has been used by multi-trail users already because that section of trails opened in 2008, will see an increase in business, Christy said.
All-terrain users can access Lamphere’s by crossing the cornfield at Eakins farm, which comes off of Bebee and Lake Ozonia roads, she said. The trails will connect to the back of the store.
Users are permitted to cross highways, but cannot ride along the side of the road unless markers and signs indicate so, she said.
Christy said several people have approached her about opening new businesses along the trail including a soup and sandwich shop, campgrounds and an ATV repair shop.
Creating the Trial
Funding of the trails was through a combination of grants, help from county and towns involved, and donations, Christy said.
“All the labor was from volunteers and without them this wouldn't be possible,” Christy said.
Some towns donated things like gravel and other materials, she said.
“I really want to thank the Parishville ATV Club for the volunteers who made this happen,” she said. “I now hope that other local clubs will start to grow also.”
Christy said some area clubs have seen membership numbers dwindle in recent years and thinks with the addition of the new trail system that clubs will grow again.”
“I am proud of the effort put forward by the county employees, the DEC, our trails coordinator and the Parishville ATV club. We have been working on this project for quite some time and the pieces are now starting to fall into place,” said Legislator Tony Arquiett, D-Helena, and co-chair of the St. Lawrence County Trails Committee.
Work To Be Done
There is still work to be done, with 10 miles of trails being worked on in the Brasher Forest near Helena. No opening date has been finalized for that portion.
Trail work is also being done in area of Colton to extend the trails from Parishville to Colton eventually.
Christy did not know when the sections being worked on now would be open, but said the Helena section would likely open first.
The Helena section will begin on the Cornell Road to the Smith Road to County Road 55, eventually leading to the Brasher Forest and connecting to the North Lawrence playground area once completed.
Ribbon cutting and BBQ
The opening of the trail will be celebrated Aug. 13 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and free barbeque.
Festivities begin at 9 a.m. at the Parishville Firemen’s Field and will travel through the new sections of the trail through Hopkinton, Stockholm and Lawrence.
The ride will be led by the Parishville ATV Club and Sunday Rock ATV Club (Colton). Once riders arrive at the end of the trail, in North Lawrence, a ribbon cutting ceremony and BBQ will be held at noon.