In 2019 Tara McGovern and Curtis Cote, both of Lyme, NH, approached UVLT with an innovative idea – a story walk trail at Lyme Hill Conservation Area. For years the couple had been visiting Vinalhaven Island in Maine where they had visited a story walk trail. “I’ve observed ours and other children moving from page to page with great curiosity and energy. Curiosity and energy for the story as well as the mature spruce forest and granite environment they were traveling through. I felt the Vinalhaven story trail was creating both a respect for literature and the environment, developing a lifelong appreciation of both.” Said Curtis.
UVLT Vice President of Stewardship Jason Berard agreed with Tara and Curtis that Lyme Hill would be a perfect location for a story walk trail. Lyme Hill is located close to both the Lyme School, Crossroads Academy, and the Converse Free Library and is an ideal location for inviting children outside to enjoy the environment and reading. Lyme Hill Conservation Area is one of UVLT’s most frequently visited properties. Its location on Route 10 less than a mile south of the village allows easy access for folks driving as well as on foot from town.
“The goal of the Story Trail is to create a family friendly hiking destination which will encourage young children to get out onto local trails and to create an enthusiasm for hiking at a young age, as well as develop respect for the forest and nature, to have fun, and read a book.” Said Tara. The current trail network at Lyme Hill is used by hikers, bikers, trail runners, skiers, snowmobilers, dog walkers, and school groups. In order to create the story walk trail, a new section of trail would need to be built, and funds would need to be raised.
Tara spearheaded the needed fundraising efforts, ultimately raising the funds to complete the projects. In fall 2021, UVLT staff joined with volunteers from Celdara Medical build the new trail. This trail is now a complete 1/2 mile loop that is easy to walk and mostly flat but also allows lots of boulders and logs for children to scramble on.
Volunteers from Hypertherm built the (metal?) stands and brackets, with materials from funds provided by the Lyme Foundation and private fundraising. The mounting brackets were installed at the end of January, each into a boulder. The trail was specifically designed to have the stands mounted into the natural landscape of glacial erratics that are scattered all over the hillside at Lyme Hill.
Now we are in the final stages of completing the story walk trail. UVLT plans to partner with the Converse Free Library to select story books for the trail and we hope to have a trail opening event in the spring of 2022.