Article written by Rheia Schall, a student in the journalism class here at U-32.
“When you start building a trail, you’re going out and you’re putting shovels to dirt,” said Sarah Galbraith, a community member of Plainfield and Marshfield.
Sarah dedicates her time to getting more kids out on bikes and involved with trail building. In the woods of Twinfield Union School there is a small trail system that is open to all community members. These trails have been up and running for a while, but in the past 5 years the Twinfield trails have really taken off.
The trails are maintained by community members and kids at the school. “I’ve heard from several people that they’re like, ‘Oh, the trails are so great. I walk my dog on it. They don’t have to be bikers, right?,’” said Dan Schall, a community member who has worked with Sarah Galbraith for years to design and build trails. They started their journey 5 years ago to create more trails at the school for kids to ride bikes on.
Dan grew up riding mountain bikes and building trails wherever he could. He wanted to be able to give the same experience to younger generations. “It just seems like somebody who grew up spending his life in the woods. It seemed like a great idea to have some motivation for kids to get out into nature a little bit more, get out into the fresh air, and get away from cell phones,” said Dan.
The process of building a trail is never simple. It takes hours on end to create, design, and make a proposal to bring to the school board, but Sarah and Dan stuck through the process. “In the meantime, we worked every square inch of that property,” said Sarah.
After many school board meetings, the school finally agreed on letting them build trails on the school’s 80 acres of land. That’s when the physical building of the trails actually started.
Once the building began, it was all about finding enough help. There were several regular volunteers that would help out but not a lot until Sarah reached out to the community about a local trail day. “We had like, 25 people come to the first one and it was people that don’t usually come out to trail days.And people brought friends, they brought their kids and it ended up being way more than I ever expected,” said Sarah.
The community help was huge, it started pushing along the building project faster even with just a few extra helping hands. “And I think it was the fact that it was at a school and the trails were for kids that really got people excited,” said Sarah.
“There was one fellow that built the bridge. I don’t even remember his name, but he brought all the lumber and he built the bridge pretty much entirely by himself. There were so many mosquitoes there I don’t know how he did it. That’s probably why he ended up doing it by himself. Nobody wanted to work in those mosquitoes. God bless him. He bucked it up and went through it and built that entire bridge,” said Dan.
The responsibility to maintain the trails has been handed off to the students of Twinfield Union School and local community members. “One of the big success stories, or the big piece of this story that feels so successful to me is that the school has really taken ownership of the trails, and mountain biking,” said Sarah. All of the Twinfield trails are open to the public for walking, biking, and running. “I think the first step is showing them how fun it is to be out there on [the trails].”