In November 2022, board member Camilla Roberts led a hike on Athens Dome in Grafton, VT, to explore the historic soapstone quarries area, including several quarries, the cellar hole of the boarding residence for workers also known as the “yellow house,” and the pitsaw to prep slabs for transport to Cambridgeport for milling.
The WHPA acquired and conserved two properties that involve the sites associated with the quarries. The first property was acquired in 2010 with the help of the Vermont Land Trust, a major Vermont Housing & Conservation Board grant, the Windham Foundation, and significant donations from many area people. The upper quarries land was a generous donation from the Goodridge family, whose ancestors worked the quarries and owned this property since the early settlement of the area.
In October 2022, Vanessa Stern led a group along the Saxons River and up Bald Hill on Pinnacle land in Westminster, VT. Hikers enjoyed views of the rocky Twin Falls as well as golden beech leaves and other fall foliage. Bald Hill is a prominent peak located on the Saxtons River in Westminster two miles upstream from the river's confluence with the Connecticut River. Preserved from development by its purchase in 2008 by the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association and by accompanying conservation easements, the 55-acre Bald Hill Reserve and the adjacent Bellows Falls Union High School Forest and Basin Farm trails total over 300 acres. They are part of a large, rural, riverside landscape for hiking and other non-motorized, public recreational and educational uses.
A special project to provide more food for wildlife and encourage older-growth conditions is underway across a limited area of the Athens Dome forest, above Creature Rock. Athens Dome is a 207-acre property that the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association acquired and conserved in 2010, with the help of the Vermont Land Trust, a major Vermont Housing & Conservation Board grant, the Windham Foundation, and donations from Pinnacle members and area residents. The land is a nature reserve with hiking trails located in Athens and Grafton, Vermont.
On this property, carefully selected trees including oaks, beeches, and hickory are being enhanced as they mature into nut production age. These are varieties of mast trees, meaning that they produce edible nuts, seeds, or fruits. Animals such as bears, deer, and squirrels rely on nuts for food, while others such as turkeys eat young tree seedlings.
To boost the mast trees’ access to sunlight, water, and soil nutrients, surrounding competitive trees are cut. The downed trees are left on the ground for the fungi, insects, and soil microbes to break down into rich humus. The Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association is conducting this project with the oversight and support of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
The Pinnacle Cabin’s facelift and renovation have vastly improved the appeal and comfort of this very special shelter. Read more here and consider reserving the cabin for your next overnight or celebration.
When the Pinnacle Association closed the gap in the long trail system, we asked people who had hiked the whole distance to let us know about their experiences. Trail Steward Bob Sartini had already hiked the distance and shared his journal entries so others could know what to expect. You can read about his experiences here.
Watch video interviews with Pinnacle founders and history book authors:
Watch a video of the opening of WHPA's Radford-Smith trail!
The Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association signed a conservation easement with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board in May 2022 on an ecologically diverse 615-acre parcel known as Lily Pond Highlands. Located in the towns of Athens, Brookline, and Townshend, the land was purchased in May 2021 by WHPA. The signing by the co-holders of the easement is the final step in the conservation of this rugged landscape. Thank you for the generous donations that helped us reach our goal! This land is just west of the Pinnacle ridgeline and directly within view from the Pinnacle summit. It's important to conserve because its forest offers habitat for bear and moose, and its two pristine ponds are home to beaver colonies, a heron rookery, and several species of ducks. Read more about Lily Pond Highlands.
In August 2021, Pinnacle trustees hiked with Chester Scouts and their families on the Athens Dome Summit trail to install a new brass plaque at the summit shelter and thank the troop for building it. Special thanks to Scout leader Tom Charlton and the three Eagle Scouts who earned their badge on this project: Earl Grennan for the design and wall construction, EJ Bromley for the roof, and David Charlton for the floor and water collection system. Read more here about the beginnings of this project in 2014.
Arthur Westing led many hikes to this champion white ash tree, teaching others about forests along the way. To learn more about how trees take in water, read Westing’s article “Water in Trees: Its Uptake and Ascent.”
An article by Ben Kimball in the May 2018 Vermont Sports magazine recounts a 10-mile run on WHPA trails on July 4, 2017, that was most memorable and romantic! Click here to read the article online or download a PDF.