Grand Opening of New Trails at Slabsides!
Slabsides Day, Oct. 6, 2012

The much anticipated new trails at Slabsides officially opened on October 6, Slabsides Day.  With fanfare from guest fiddlers “Hudson River Crossing”, Jeff Walker, president of the John Burroughs Association, greeted the enthusiastic gathering and set the mood by reading an excerpt from Burroughs' essay “A Sharp Lookout” highlighting the literary naturalist's sentiment that some of the most important observations of nature are made in one’s own backyard.

Joan Burroughs, Treasurer of the JBA and manager of the Slabsides Trails Project over the past four years, gave a short history of the project that highlighted the critical contributions of friends of the project and the nearly two hundred trail volunteers who built the new trails.  She expressed the deep thanks of the JBA for all the hard work the volunteers put into the trails that made the project a success, enduring dirt, rain, very sore muscles, scratches and sprains, and on a couple of days thigh-high mud.  Eddie Walsh of Tahawus Trails, who designed the new trails and oversaw the trail construction, and several volunteers were individually thanked.  They received books written by John Burroughs and others that had been awarded the John Burroughs Medal or Riverby Award for the best in nature writing.  Full listing of volunteers.  For her dedication Jeff Walker and the board of the JBA gave Joan Burroughs a copy of the hand-made reissue by Steven Daiber of Burroughs' essay "Speckled Trout."

Edward Kanze, author of The World of John Burroughs and Adirondack guide, gave the keynote address, "Meeting John Burroughs Deep in the Woods."   He began by sharing his personal journey in discovering Burroughs and the influence the naturalist had in his life.  Kanze then developed the importance of reading Burroughs and the contemporary relevance of his philosophies of nature and land conservation.  Full text of Ed's talk.

It was an honor to have Chris White, representing Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, also address the gathering.  White is serving as Deputy Director of Planning for Ulster County and was formerly District Representative for Congressman Maurice Hinchey.  White has a close association with the Nature Sanctuary having lived at Pond House one summer many years ago.  He spoke about the importance of the trails and the significance of John Burroughs and Slabsides. 

To fanfare from the fiddlers, Chris White, Jeff Walker and Joan Burroughs were joined by Jennifer Schwartz Burky, representing the Hudson River Valley Greenway, to cut the length of bittersweet vine across the trailhead of the Ridge Trail in front of Slabsides officially opening the new trails.   It was a grand culmination of four years of hard work developing these significant trails. 

After lunch, Kanze led an enthusiastic group on a guided hike along the new Ridge Trail deep into the southern area of the Nature sanctuary.  His keen eyes sharpened the focus of the group as he shared his insights and knowledge of the natural world. Others hiked the short, but dramatic South Pond Trail to Pond House for refreshments and a screening of Our National Parks, while others hiked the trails to make their own discoveries.

We hope to see you on the trails here is the map and guide to plan your journey deep into the woods.


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