East Hill, finalized in 2011, was an ambitious community conservation project with local landowners, Tom Debevoise and Laurie Livingston and Upper Valley Land Trust. GMHA took the lead with a $100,000 pledge toward a $490,000 community fundraising goal to conserve an undeveloped 71-acre parcel of land providing the scenic backdrop for the historic village of South Woodstock. This project permanently secured “Upwey Trail,” connecting directly to GMHA grounds. The property adds to 515 acres of land already conserved in the neighborhood.
This multi-landowner project finalized in 2014. It is a good example of cooperation and goodwill among five “horse properties” that began two-and-a-half years and three property transfers ago. Highfield Drive is a private road off Banister Road. Shirley and Bob Fenner extended their Gambol Hill Farm Trail. Amy Bresky donated an easement to GMHA. Robin Simpson and Gordon Troy allow horses over their access easement. Laurie and Dan Hall continue access via revocable permission. Cynthia Rankin and Geoffrey O’Brien welcome horse traffic along their stone wall fenceline.
Majestic Mount Ascutney is in view as riders take a quick jaunt across a hay field to connect with another easement trail in West Windsor. This is a great example of how a small section of trail can make a big difference in the quality of a neighborhood trail network.
“One day, when I was at the kitchen sink, I glanced up from what I was doing and an antique four-in-hand coach was going by. The harnesses were beautiful with lots of shiny brass hardware. It was incredible. GMHA is one of a kind! All of us who love it should commit to protecting it and the land.” – Linda Johnson
“We donated a trail easement to GMHA not only because we support the efforts of its trail preservation program, but we always welcome and love watching the horses go through.” – Shirley and Bob Fenner
“The extensive equestrian trail network that radiates out from South Woodstock is one of the most wonderful and sacred treasures in the area. Unfortunately, this network is threatened by new landowners who don’t understand or appreciate its significance and deny access to the trails over their property. We felt compelled to do our part to help protect this gem for future generations. Granting an easement to GMHA as a steward for the trail over our property was an easy decision for us.”
Molly, Jane and Carlisle Spencer—mother, daughter, and son—of West Windsor, approached GMHA with a well-thought out plan to increase safety for local riders and carriage drivers at a dangerous curve. Their solution: A scenic trail through their open meadow to the end of their driveway at the watering trough.
“GMHA at one time had some shirts identifying it as a ‘special place.’ To us, there is another special place which is inextricably tied to GMHA and that is Caper Hill. Our parents bought Caper Hill Farm in 1959 when we ranged in ages from 18 to not-yet-born. But over the last 40 years, when we visited one special place, we invariably visited the other. And so it is that we would like to see this partnership continue. We would like to ensure that the preservation and enjoyment of the trails and views of Caper Hill continue to be available to all GMHA members and event participants. Doing so honors our parents’ spirit of generosity.” – The Leslie Family
“The trail across the top of the property is named ‘Bonnie’s Trail’ in memory of my youngest daughter. Bonnie, her husband and I rode this trail in October 1999, the last trail ride she took before she was killed three weeks later in a traffic accident in New York City. We would like to see this beautiful area preserved for future generations.” -Frank and Rosemary Moore
“Making sure that our trails were permanently protected through GMHA was first and foremost in our minds.”
Riders on the Route 66 trail are greeted at the trail entrance by a flowered wreath and a vintage hubcap bearing the name of the trail. Landowner Clover Durfee welcomes riders on these two precious little gems that are tucked away behind South Woodstock village. These trails fulfill a great need in that area by keeping riders off the road and out of a complicated intersection at the base of the hill.