By Pam Gillis
Near the top of the Lake Mansfield Trail is an unmaintained bypass which provides an alternate route to Taylor Lodge. The trail may have originally been constructed to provide an alternative to traversing the steep slope near the waterfall below the lodge. In winter, this section sometimes fills with snow creating dangerous, icy conditions. People have slipped and slid into the gorge. Otherwise, the Lake Mansfield Trail is an easy and pleasant snowshoe. Maintenance of the bypass was discontinued in 1990-91, due to its limited use and the limited resources available for upkeep. Some old maps show the alternate as the Lake Mansfield Trail, so its exact history is unclear.
Last winter, Dot Myer led a group to Taylor Lodge. They encountered the difficult conditions and some refused to return by that route. Dot was able to locate the bypass and they followed it down. She requested it be reopened. Our executive committee voted to reopen the bypass but under a new name to encourage year-round use.
On August 2, Director of GMC Field Programs Dave Hardy, Trail Management Committee (TMC) Chair Scott Christiansen, Section members Sarah Berger, Robert and Pam Gillis hiked the bypass to assess its condition. It was possible to follow the route and the tread was not in bad shape. Reopening it will require clipping, chain saw work and hardening of some muddy spots. It passes through a nice stretch of woods and makes for a pleasant hike.
The TMC reviewed the proposal and passed a motion in favor of the reopening, although it is unknown whether the trail was ever officially closed. Dave Hardy reviewed old TMC minutes and, to maintain good relationships, discussed the proposal with the State of Vermont.
The state will allow us to reopen it initially as a winter trail with temporary signs and flagging rather than blazes. Full reopening will be considered next year. A work outing is scheduled for November 16 to do cutting, clipping and flagging.