Home News and Features North Branch Nature Center Celebrates Two New Trails 

North Branch Nature Center Celebrates Two New Trails 

North Branch Nature Center’s new 0.3-mile Universal Access Trail starts by the parking lot and kiosk arch, loops around the community garden and along the edge of the property. Photo by Tom McKone.
The North Branch Nature Center widely publishes its motto, “Connecting People with the Natural World,” and this year they are emphasizing that they mean all people. On September 30 at 11 a.m., the center is hosting a grand opening celebration at its 28-acre Elm Street property to mark two new trails that each in its own way is part of NBNC’s effort to expand inclusivity.

“This year, NBNC is focusing on accessibility through (its) ongoing adaptive kayaking collaboration, through regular outings at the nature center with Central Vermont Family and Friends United, (and) with our newly installed Universal Access Trail,” executive director Naomi Heindel wrote in the center’s September newsletter. She also highlighted the eight interpretive panels that are being installed this month along the newly designated Nature Connection Trail.

The universal access trail, a loop almost a third of a mile long, is composed of packed, crushed gravel that provides a surface suitable for wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers, and complies with federal Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“This ADA-compliant trail will allow more people to experience the nature center, and offers new and beautiful views of the hillside, community garden, and meadow,” Heindel said.

“Each panel includes a watercolor painting by Vermont artist Amy Hook-Therrien, Abenaki words and translations by language keepers Jesse and Joseph Bruchac, and links to more content and accessibility features on NBNC’s website,” according to a press release.

Heindel noted NBNC’s participation in a collaborative adaptive kayaking program with the Northeast Disabled Athletics Association and the South Hero Land Trust. On one of the group’s outings, Heindel enjoyed being a “floating naturalist.”

The Sept. 30 rain-or-shine grand opening includes an ASL interpreter, and will include staff-led activities along the new trails, as well as the opportunity for visitors to explore the trails on their own. Register at NorthBranchNatureCenter.org/event/trail-opening. Creation of the trails is the fruit of years of fundraising that included donations from the Montpelier Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council, and the Recreation Trails Program.