June 25 and June 30

June 18 brought no signups so I went hiking.  Two of us added 7 new rock steps to Winslow Trail not far above the powerline crossing on Saturday June 25.  We threw in two barricades on herd paths and a new drainage dip for good measure. That site wants two more steps before we move uphill over an easier grade to the next worksite.

On June 30 we return to Rim Trail on Mt. Sunapee to add more rock steps and pavers to a trail relocation around a brook bed. We’ll meet at the ski area at 9 AM and drive up to the trailhead.  The jobsite is 0.4 miles uphill.  Please wear long pants and leather boots and BYO lunch, 2 qt. water, work gloves.  We provide tools.  We will quit around 3 PM and drive to Newbury for cold drinks.  Please email the leader at crgsnbrn@yahoo.com if you have questions.  We look forward to welcoming you.



Thu 6/16 and Sat 6/18

Good morning, trail crew.
    June 4 on Pitcher Mtn. with Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club went well.  Two of us were joined by four from that club.  On the north side of the mountain we raked five old waterbars and rebuilt four more mostly by adding rocks below their downhill side to hold soil from the ditch on the berm.  Out among the blueberry bushes near the summit we added two new waterbars.  One was north of the summit, where we rested in the shade of the firetower for lunch.  Then we built the other plus a rock step in a small gully on a steep slope just south of the summit.  We made it back to the trailhead by 3 PM in time for the pizza from MSGTC.
    Last Thu 6/9 we began a trail relocation to lift the trail up out of a brook bed on Rim Trail on Mt. Sunapee.  We set 8 small pavers to fill holes across a boulder field, and we also set 10 rock steps in a staircase up a slope.  This site is black organic soil on top of rocks, with little if any mineral soil.  I expect we will end up with paver rocks on most of it just to prevent the erosion that would happen with hikers crossing it, although we are going to dig for mineral soil on Thursday.
    This Thu 6/16 we will return and continue that job.  We will meet at the upper parking lot at Mt. Sunapee Resort ski area at 9 AM.  We will drive to the trailhead and carry tools up about 0.4 miles to the jobsite.  We will quarry and set more rocks to continue a hardened erosion-resistant treadway along the relo until we decide it is time to quit for the day, which is most likely between 3 PM and 4 PM.  Please BYO gear for a dayhike, plenty of food and water, work gloves, and the can-do spirit of teamwork that makes this work fun.
    Then on Sat 6/18 we move to Winslow Trail on Mt. Kearsarge. There we will work from the trailhead upwards, restoring old fixtures and defining the trail etc.
Meet at Winslow State Park at 9 AM, or you are welcome to join us at breakfast at the Blackwater on Rte 4 just east of the south end of Rte 4-A at 8 AM.  Same BYO list.
    Please email the crew leader at crgsnbrn@yahoo.com to sign up or ask any further questions.  I look forward to seeing you.
Yours,  Craig

6/4 Pitcher Mtn

Last Thursday we did patrol Winslow Trail on Mt Kearsarge, where we cleaned all the drains, sawed one blowdown, then descended Barlow Trail back to our cars and the cold drinks. We may return to Winslow Trail for level 2 repairs later this year.

This Saturday June 4 we join Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club at Pitcher Mtn, Rte. 123 Stoddard NH at 830 AM.

We plan to add a few small waterbars on a narrow bit of trail as a warm-up to a bigger job, which is to add rock steps to stabilize the trail on a steep slope.  I am told there is enough rock nearby.  Once we have a plan we’ll quarry the rocks and move them to the site, then we will set them to harden the trail just downhill from the fire tower. We will do the job in phases so everyone has the chance to learn the techniques of moving and setting rock.

Please wear leather boots, long pants, and bring work gloves and your day pack with food and water (at least 2 qt.) for the day. MSGTC serves pizza when the tools are clean and stowed.

Please email me at crgsnbrn@yahoo.com if you plan to attend, and direct any questions there also. Thank you.


Patrol Winslow Trail 5/26

The Spring patrol season continues.  We have cleaned the 160 drains on our trails on Mt. Cardigan and Mt. Sunapee, removed 11 blowdowns in 13 miles of trail, added 17 small stepstones in mudholes, replaced a broken signpost a mile uphill from the trailhead, and harvested a dozen or so trees to barricade herd paths tourists wore through the woods during the mud season. The hours total 196, and that does not count work on other trails, meetings, etc.

Now we have been authorized to perform Spring patrol on Winslow Trail on Mt. Kearsarge near Wilmot NH.  We will meet there at 9 AM this Thursday May 26.  If you are interested in attending, the fastest way to reach the day’s leader is via their email, crgsnbrn@yahoo.com.


We often turn out for a few to several hours of trailwork on weekdays depending on who is interested. As it says on our card, “willing workers welcome, workdays by appointment.”

Send me an email at cardiganhighlanders@gmail.com and we can arrange a time. There is always plenty to do. Thank you.



Spring patrol 2016

After the winter that warn’t we have hiked the trails in our care, cleaning 160+ drains, chopping 7 blowdowns, and brushing 1/2 mile of Newbury Trail. Trails on Mt. Cardigan above 2500′ are still frozen but turning to mud, so we’ll wait a week or so before we try to work there.

Once the ground thaws, we’ll re-set wood steps heaved by the frost, and re-dig the remaining waterbars to normal design specs. Then we break for black fly season, and start the construction season after Father’s Day.

We have six or more sites on Mt. Sunapee where we plan to build short relocations to raise the trail above brook beds, or stabilize eroded trails with rock steps and better waterbars. There may be a 20′ bridge to build if the landowner wants one.

We are looking at a season of interesting work in 3 or 4 places. When we have them agreed on we will post a schedule here. Meantime, let us keep to the drier trails for our hikes so we do not cause more erosion by walking beside the muddy trail. Thank you.


2015 Report Summary

Newbury Trail work sites 8-17-15 steps in place before more scree
More rocks to protect soil from eroding were added to either side of this staircase on Newbury Trail.
This new 20′ bridge over Bog Brook sits on cribs that raise it 30″ higher than the old one that washed away three times

In our 2015 season we worked over 800 hours keeping the 15 miles of trail we tend open and blazed.  We also added 110 new rock steps, 6 new rock waterbars, a 12′ bridge on Barlow Trail and a 20′ bridge with Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail Club (msgtc.org/trail happenings).  The State values our work at more than $18,000 they didn’t have to spend, and they awarded us a Volunteer Service Award in recognition of our 30 years of service.

Plans and options for the 2016 season are coming along well.  We plan to build more rock steps and drains at several sites on Mt. Sunapee, replace old woodwork on Mt. Cardigan, and keep all our trails open, blazed, and the drains open.  There is a good chance we can build more rockwork on some trails near the road in the White Mountain National Forest.


New in 2016:  The State is expected to offer new volunteer service agreements for each of their groups. We may then transition to a board of directors form of governing this crew, and be able to raise funds to support our activities. Liability  concerns are becoming more prominent for all volunteer groups, and we aim to address those proactively through better training and procedures. Changes are coming, and we welcome them. They will help us be a better volunteer trail crew.


What We’ve Been Up To

This year we hosted the summer crew leaders’ school for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) on Mt. Sunapee where the SCA taught them the skills they then taught others around the USA this summer. I flagged a section of new trail to bypass an eroded part of trail that goes straight up the mountain. The relocation takes a wide swing away from the old route and doubles back on a gentle grade. When it opens it will prevent further erosion of the old route as well as being easier to walk. To slow down erosion on the new section we have added 37 new rock steps on the steeper bits of the relo. We also built a 10-rock staircase where a trail climbs a steep slope to a seasonal brook, as well as a few new rock waterbars. These are the fixtures in these photos. We had lots of fun building them, and we invite you to come join us for more of it.

Trail tenders perform two kinds of work: routine upkeep and building fixtures. The routine includes cleaning drains, chopping fallen trees, painting blazes to guide hikers, and cutting back the brush from the side of the trail. We build fixtures like steps, waterbars, revetting, bridges etc. mainly to prevent soil erosion by separating the walkers from the water. That means both parties have to cooperate, so we try to make the fixtures easier for the hiker to use than to avoid.

More practically, we build steps and waterbars on steeper slopes so that each complements the other: steps hold soil on the trail and waterbars shed runoff before it can gain such velocity as to undermine and wash away steps. Rock is the preferred material, but we have to harvest materials from nearby. Wood has a useful life of about 12-15 years on average, rock lasts a little longer.

Waterbars cross the trail at about a 45 degree angle and extend beyond both edges of the trail. The bar is about a foot downhill of the ditch that carries water, so water doesn’t erode the waterbar. The ditch is a foot wide with sloping sides, and we clean it by sliding a shovel up from the downstream end to throw mineral soil back on the trail tread where hikers pack it into a durable surface.

Steps should have the same measurements as stairs at home: a rise of 7″ and a run of 11.” Most of them are higher and a few are shorter, but we try to meet that standard so as to make climbing them easy so the hiker will use them instead of eroding organic soil going through the woods.  With all that said, here are some photos of our work on Mt. Sunapee July 11 – August 31.

Andrew Brook Trail stone placement
Step stones across a mud hole.
Cardigan Highlanders Trail Work Lunch time on Rim Trail
Craig wonders ,”Where’s the barbecue?” with Scott and David on the Rim Trail.
Cardigan Highlanders Trail Work Rim Trail, Craig digs, David looks on
Finishing the ditch of a waterbar.
Cardigan Highlanders Trail Work Scott, Craig and David at new waterbar
Waterbar finished with rock wall to channel hikers onto the trail which is out of view here on the right.
Newbury Trail work sites 8-17-15 steps in place before more scree
Rock stairs just down hill of seasonal brook. A few more rocks will be added to edge at upper left. Rock steps provide a good climb up while reducing erosion in high erosion areas.
Newbury Trail work sites 8-19-15 rocks placed to hold soil
Stones placed to prevent erosion and gulleying around roots.

Newbury Trail work sites 8-19-15 SCA Relo, four steps

Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew tends 10 miles of hiking trail on the Cardigan range plus 5 miles on Mt Sunapee. Each Spring between snow-melt and black fly season we patrol those trails to remove fallen trees and dig debris out of ditches so they will carry water off-trail and thus limit erosion.  After the drains are clean we take a break from trailwork until late June when the black flies have mostly died off and the building season can start. We build fixtures to protect the trail from erosion: steps, waterbars, retaining walls, ditches, bridges up to 30′ etc. This year we have recruited a few recently retired volunteers who can turn out 2-3 weekdays.


A Word from a Highlander

Cardigan Highlanders Trail Work Craig moves a rock
Craig Sanborn moving a rock while David Miller and Scott MacFaden look on.

It’s been a great summer! The Highlanders have accomplished some good work on Newbury and Rim trails on Mt. Sunapee installing rock steps, rock water bars, and nearing completion of a relocation on the Newbury Trail.

We’ve also installed new rock fixtures on the West Ridge Trail on Cardigan, painted blazes in numerous locations and generally having fun, being good Steward’s, and doing good work!

Paying if forward sort of speak! Expect some of our fixtures will last longer than we will.

Come out and join us we’ve got stuff for every level from cleaning water bars, brushing out, painting, or building bigger fixtures. We’ll match the work to your skill level, there’s something for just about anyone. So come join us and give back a little for the trails you tramp! Thanks
Bob Humphrey, a Cardigan Highlander

About Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew

About Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew

The Cardigan Highlanders Volunteer Trail Crew has existed since 1985 under the direction of Craig Sanborn, centered around trails on Mount Cardigan and Mount Sunapee in western New Hampshire.  We are an informal, small group of trail enthusiasts who work with the state and local non-profits to maintain, design and build hiking trails.

As interest in hiking increases among the general public so too does the need for proper and appropriate trail maintenance.  Also, as current members of the Cardigan Highlanders aren’t getting any younger, its time to teach the next generation who will then carry on the tradition of volunteer trail tending in New Hampshire.

So, with this in mind, the Cardigan Highlanders have decided to begin reaching out more to the public.  This website represents just a start.  We intend to form a board of directors to share in decision making and bring fresh ideas to the crew; recruit younger and more diverse members, have a presence on Facebook, solidify our relationship with the state’s land conservation agencies and our neighboring trail tenders.

For any further information about the Cardigan Highlanders you can reach us at:


We will soon post highlights of recent and past activities, pictures and information on upcoming trail work events!

Bookmark us and return often to check up on the news!