Green Mountain Club Mission
What We Do
The Long Trail & Trail Management
Green Mountain Club, Inc.
Land Conservation and Stewardship
The Appalachian Trail in Vermont
The Northeast Kingdom Trails and Camps
Shelters and Overnight Sites
Green Mountain Club Mission
The mission of the Green Mountain Club is to make the Vermont Mountains play a larger part in the life of the people by protecting and maintaining the Long Trail System and fostering, through education, the stewardship of Vermont's hiking trails and mountains.
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What We Do
The Green Mountain Club is the founder and maintainer of the Long Trail – the oldest long distance hiking trail in America. Established in 1910 to build this trail stretching the length of Vermont, the club is a non-profit with more than 10,000 members and reliant on more than 1,000 volunteers annually.
According to the first Long Trail Guide in 1917, “The Green Mountain Club was organized in 1910 for the purpose of bringing the mountains closer to the life of the people, not only of Vermont, but of the entire country. It is building the Long Trail over the Green Mountains from Massachusetts to Canada, affording a high, scenic, mountain pathway where everyone who wishes may enjoy health and recreation at a reasonable expense. It is hoped that those who tramp the Club trails will come to have a keen personal interest in the preservation and upbuilding of our forests.”
The Green Mountain Club not only maintains the Long Trail System’s 272 miles of the main trail, 175 miles of side trails, and almost 70 shelters, but also maintains the Appalachian Trail through Vermont and a new trail in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
The Green Mountain Club supplements the remarkable work of its volunteers with both a year-round and a seasonal staff. Seasonal staff includes the Long Trail Patrol which takes on the most challenging projects of trail maintenance such as shelter repairs, stone step work, trail relocation and treadway hardening. The club also relies on caretakers who spend the summer and fall living on the trail, advising hikers on Leave No Trace etiquette, and doing the dirty work necessary to keep trails and shelters (and their privies!) up to the standards hikers in Vermont expect.
The Green Mountain Club works closely with its public and private partners to conserve a permanent public route for the Long Trail. To that end, the club has conserved more than 25,000 acres of Vermont land across which 78 miles of the trail travels. The club’s goal is that every inch of the Long Trail be permanently and continuously open to the public. We have 6.5 miles to go.
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The Long Trail & Trail Management
The 272-mile Long Trail was the first long distance hiking trail in America. After the Green Mountain Club was established in 1910, the club’s volunteers began working on building the trail. While the trail had a contiguous route of nearly 150 miles by 1913, it was not until 1930 that the final stretch of trail was built to Line Post 592 on the Canadian border.
The Long Trail spans the top of the main ridgeline of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Often climbing directly up some of the steepest parts of Vermont’s biggest mountains, the Long Trail provides access to famed Vermont peaks such as Stratton Mountain, Mt. Mansfield, Jay Peak, Camels Hump, Glastonbury and Killington. It also passes by and through other natural beauties such as Sterling Pond, the Winooski River, White Rocks, Stratton Pond, Devil’s Gulch, Little Rock Pond, and Smuggler’s Notch.
The Long Trail is marked by white blazes (painted and metallic rectangles on trees or rocks) while side trails are marked by blue blazes. Double blazes, and occasionally rock cairns, are used to alert hikers to a change in the trail such as a turn or a special feature.
The trail is maintained by the club’s innovative cooperative management system. This system relies on a combination of volunteer and professional work with shared, overlapping responsibilities. First and foremost, the club relies on local chapters, known as “Sections”, which each are responsible for maintaining a section of the trail itself. For example, the Worchester (Ma.) Section maintains the trail near Stratton Mountain, the Northern Frontier Section works on the trail near Jay Peak, and the Burlington Section focuses its efforts from the Winooski River to Smuggler’s Notch. Sections tend to have regional identities but any club member may be a member of any section – or sections – regardless of where they live.
The Green Mountain Club also utilizes a vast network of trail and shelter adopters. These individuals, families, or groups take on the responsibility of looking after a specific shelter or a specific segment of the trail system (including side trails). These unsung heroes of the trail management system visit their stretch of trail at least twice a year at which time they might trim back branches, clean waterbars, or inform the main club of major problems they spot.
The Green Mountain Club hires dozens of seasonal staffers every summer and fall to help with trail management. The season staff includes trail crews and caretakers. The trail crews, known collectively as the Long Trail Patrol, were established by GMC president Mortimer Proctor in the early days of the club. The LTP works on projects that involve heavy and complex work on the trail such as building stone steps with large boulders or building a bridge over a difficult stream crossing. Meanwhile, the caretakers not only live at Long Trail shelters and advise hikers on proper Leave No Trace etiquette, but they do a great deal of trail work near their summit workplaces in some of the most visited alpine areas like Mt. Mansfield and Stratton Pond.
Trail work, and the very existence and public nature of Vermont’s hiking trails, would not be possible without the steadfast support of the club’s public and private partners. Much of the trail crosses the Green Mountain National Forest and state forests and parks managed by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. These partners have long understood that the club’s volunteers and seasonal staff provide a comprehensive, reliable, and cost effective management tool. The club also relies on private partners such as ski resorts and private land owners for access to their land and support for the club’s work.
In addition to the Long Trail itself, the club also maintains more than 170 miles of side trails connecting to the main trail. These trails provide additional access to the main trail and its sites and resources – and are themselves outstanding recreational opportunities for Vermont hikers.
The Green Mountain Club manages the Long Trail System in accordance with its Long Trail System Management Plan. Through this plan, the Long Trail System is managed as a “footpath in the wilderness” – as it has long been known – and the club maintains a narrow footpath with minimal infrastructure and signage. While certain situations require different approaches, the club is immensely proud of the work done on the trail by our volunteers and staff.
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Green Mountain Club, Inc.
The Green Mountain Club is a non-profit trail management, education, and conservation organization with more than 10,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. The club relies heavily on the private support of its members and supporters to be able to maintain more than 500 miles of hiking trails in Vermont.
The Green Mountain Club was established on March 11, 1910 in the Sample Room of the Van Ness House, kitty-corner from City Hall Park in Burlington, Vt. Twenty-three Vermonters met to hear from James Paddock Taylor about his idea for a long trail and a group that might build and maintain it. Taylor was elected the club’s first president. Soon after the club was established, Gov. George Prouty, former Gov. Urban Woodbury, former Gov. Fletcher Proctor, and U.S. Senators Carroll Page and William Dillingham joined. Thus, the club set forth with the goal of making “the Vermont mountains play a larger part in the life of the people.”
By the spring of 1911, attorney Clarence P. Cowles of the Mt. Mansfield (now Burlington) Section and Craig P. Burt of Stowe had cut the trail from the summit of Mt. Mansfield to Nebraska Notch. By the end of the second year, Cowles and Burt had brought the trail all the way to the Winooski River in Bolton.
By late 1913, more than 150 miles of the Long Trail had already been established. But the club worked tirelessly afterward to improve upon its original route and to continue to expand the trail with the goal of seeing it reach seamlessly from Massachusetts to Quebec, Canada.
In 1930, Charles Doll and Phillips Carleton of the University of Vermont cut the final stretch of trail from just north of Jay Peak to Line Post 592 on the international border.
Other key early leaders of the club include Prof. William Monroe of the New York Section who came to live at the base of Camels Hump and may be best remembered for his perfection of the trail route from Lincoln Gap to the Winooski River – known today as the Monroe Skyline. Theron Dean, Louis Paris, Louis Puffer, C.P. Cooper, Herbert Congdon, Wallace Fay, and Mortimer Proctor – who later became governor and is the only two-time club president - were also key early members of the club.
Today, just as it was from the start, the Green Mountain Club is comprised today of both at-large members and members of the club’s 14 sections (i.e. local chapters responsible for maintaining a section of trail). While individual sections have come and gone, their essential importance to the club’s volunteer leadership and trail maintenance is undeniable.
GMC Sections and their Trail Responsibilities
Bennington Section – Harmon Hill to Glastonbury Mountain
Brattleboro Section – Winhall River to Rt. 11 & 30
Bread Loaf Section – Sucker Brook to Emily Proctor Shelter
Burlington Section – Winooski River to Smugglers Notch
Connecticut Section – Glastonbury Mountain to Arlington-West Wardsboro Rd. (Kelley Stand)
Killington Section – Rt. 140 to Rt. 4
Laraway Section – Rt. 15 to Rt. 118
Manchester Section – Rt. 11 and 30 to Griffith Lake
Montpelier Section – Bamforth Ridge to Winooski River, and Smugglers Notch to Chilcoot Pass
Northeast Kingdom Section – Northeast Kingdom Trails
Northern Frontier Section – Hazen’s Notch to Journey’s End
Ottauquechee Section – Rt. 4 to Maine Junction, the Appalachian Trail from Maine Junction to the Connecticut River
Sterling Section – Chilcoot Pass to Rt. 15
Worchester (Ma.) Section – Arlington-West Wardsboro Rd. (Kelley Stand) to Winhall River
From 1926 to 1977, the club’s staff entailed a part-time corresponding secretary who doubled as the business manager. For twenty nine years that person was Lula Tye who was followed for twenty two years by Minerva Hinchey. During this time, the club maintained an office in downtown Rutland City. For decades, the club also managed the Long Trail Lodge in Sherburne Pass (now Killington). This facility was a meeting place through which the trail itself passed. The iconic lodge burned down in 1968. The winter annex to the lodge still stands today as the privately-owned Inn at Long Trail (across the street from the site of the old lodge).
In 1977, the club moved to Montpelier. In 1992, it moved again to the former 1832 May Farm property on Route 100 in Waterbury Center. The south barn burned in 2003 and was replaced in 2009 after a successful capital campaign. Today, the club’s campus welcomes visitors with hiking and travel information, a retail store, picnic tables, and a short walking trail.
Serving alongside Ms. Hinchey, Larry Van Meter was hired in 1975 as the club’s first executive director, taking over from part-time executive secretary Gardiner Lane – a legend in Vermont outdoor recreation due to his pioneering efforts on the Bolton Valley Nordic trails. Van Meter was the club’s first permanent, full-time employee and, at the age of 25, came almost directly out of the club’s caretaker program.
Today, the club employs more than a ten year-round staff members and up to 50 seasonal staff over the course of the summer and fall field seasons.
The club is led by an all-volunteer board of directors selected by sections and by the general membership. The board elects its own president who serves as the leader of the organization for up to three years.
Since 1917, the club has published the Long Trail Guide. This quintessential guidebook is periodically updated by the club. The club also publishes a wide variety of maps and other guidebooks. These publications are sold online, at the club’s visitor center in Waterbury Center, and at stores across the state.
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A Permanent Corridor for the Long Trail
Since the 1980s, the Green Mountain Club has sought to secure a permanent route for the Long Trail. While in the early years, the club could rely on simple handshake agreements with landowners, a few threats of trail closure and development near the trail inspired the club to kick off its Long Trail Protection Campaign.
The Long Trail Protection Campaign has resulted in the conservation of more than 25,000 acres of Vermont forest land through which the Long Trail and its side trails cross. The club has protected more than 78 miles of the Long Trail and continues to strive to conserve the remaining 6.5 miles of the trail (Note: much of the trail was conserved before this campaign thanks to the national forest and state lands). With only a few miles left unprotected, the club continues to work with willing land owners to provide the public with long term certainty that the trail will never close.
The club’s Long Trail Protection Campaign has always relied exclusively on willing land owner sales and easements. The club has partnered with the state of Vermont to transfer many of the lands it has conserved into the state forest system.
As the club has conserved more and more land, it has also taken on much of the burden of stewarding that land. In cooperation with its public partners, the Green Mountain Club’s staff and volunteers work to maintain property boundaries, monitor the corridor for possible misuse, and react strongly and appropriately when misuse occurs.
The Green Mountain Club supports sustainable forestry practices and Vermont’s working landscape. The club sustainably harvests timber from its own property currently both as a source of income and fuel for its visitor center which uses wood gasification boilers for heat and hot water.
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The Appalachian Trail in Vermont
The Green Mountain Club not only maintains and protects the Long Trail, but also maintains the Appalachian Trail through Vermont. The “A.T.” coincides with the Long Trail for about 100 miles from the Massachusetts border in southern Vermont to Maine Junction in the central Vermont town of Killington (just north of Route 4). From there, the Long Trail heads north to Canada and the Appalachian Trail heads east toward the Connecticut River and, eventually, Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
Both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail are believed to have been inspired by visits to Vermont’s Stratton Mountain by James P. Taylor and Benton MacKaye, their respective founders. The Long Trail influenced the Appalachian Trail in a number of ways including reliance on an extensive shelter system along the trail, use of the “white blaze” as the marker of the main trail, and the use of the cooperative management system that relies on local chapters to maintain designated sections of trails. Just as the Green Mountain Club has always relied heavily on its Sections for trail maintenance and volunteer leadership, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy relies on trail maintaining clubs like the Green Mountain Club to manage the A.T. from Georgia to Maine.
In 1966, MacKaye wrote to the Vermont state road commissioner in opposition to the state’s re-proposed skyline highway idea. In his letter, prompted by GMC leader Mauri WInturi, the AT founder wrote, “I am an old New Englander, a native of Connecticut, a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, and my earliest memories these of Vermont. I traversed the range of the Green Mountains … in the summer of 1900, ten years before the Long Trail was born. I wrote in 1921 the magazine article proposing the Appalachian Trail. This is an extension of the Long Trail – one way to Maine and the other to Georgia.”
The club works closely with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Green Mountain National Forest, and other partners such as the state of Vermont and the National Park Service to maintain the more than 40 miles of Appalachian Trail in Vermont – in addition to the portion of the A.T. that is also the Long Trail.
A key to this maintenance is the club’s Ottauquechee Section and volunteer trail adopters. The “O” Section which is based largely in Windsor County maintains more miles of trail than any other Green Mountain Club section. Without the dedication and hard work of the volunteers of the “O” Section, the club would not have been able to accept the addition responsibility it took on from Dartmouth Outing Club in 2011 when it became the maintainer of more than 20 miles of A.T. from Woodstock to Norwich which had been maintained by D.O.C. The club was already the maintainer of the A.T. from Maine Junction to Route 12 in Woodstock
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The Northeast Kingdom Trails and Camps
In 2000, the Green Mountain Club welcomed its newest chapter: the Northeast Kingdom Section. The “NEK” Section was established largely to lead the club’s trail corridor management responsibility on the former Champion Lands.
Today, section volunteers work with GMC staff and staff from NorthWoods Stewardship Center to build and maintain a trail which begins off of Gore Mountain Trail and will eventually go all the way to Island Pond along the Bluff Ridge – more than 12 miles. A few miles of trail are already completed and open to the public.
The Green Mountain Club was named the corridor manager for hiking trails as a part of the settlement of the former Champion Lands. The trial travels through the working forest on public access easements set aside for hiking and will provide for an excellent hiking experience in perhaps the most remote area of Vermont. This trail exists due to the cooperation and support of the state of Vermont and Plum Creek Timber.
The NEK Section is unique within the club as it maintains not only the Bluff Ridge trails but also a number of other hiking trails through the northeastern part of Vermont. These include Mt. Pisgah, Mt. Hor, Haystack, Bluff Mtn., Bald Mtn., and Moose Mtn. It is the only section that does not maintain a part of the Long Trail.
In addition, the NEK Section plays a leadership role in maintaining the club’s beautiful and rustic Wheeler Pond Camps in Barton. These primitive camps provide year-round opportunities for people to enjoy the quiet beauty of the Kingdom. The camps are for rent through the Green Mountain Club’s main office in Waterbury Center.
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An essential part of the Green Mountain Club’s mission is “fostering, through education, the stewardship of Vermont's hiking trails and mountains.”
The club has sought to provide educational experiences to children and opportunities to parents and teachers to use the trail as a classroom. The club established the Long Trail Bound program as a means to this end. The club’s staff and volunteers work with school groups, summer camps, and other gatherings to teach children outdoor skills – like using a compass – as well as skills they can utilize to learn from and enjoy their own experiences in the woods.
Long Trail Bound not only works directly with groups of children, but it seeks to provide beneficial skills for teachers and parents that they might use on the trail with children. The club launched LongTrailBound.org in 2011 in order to provide these tools to parents and teachers, and to support an ongoing conversation about using trails as classrooms. This program is maintained through the support of Green Mountain Club members, a number of supportive foundations, and the AmeriCorp program.
AmeriCorp, through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, has long supported the club’s group outreach and education programming. The club’s Group Outreach Coordinator is an AmeriCorp member who not only helps drive the club’s youth education programming but also helps large groups on the trail understand how to practice Leave No Trace etiquette.
The club is a proud supporter of Leave No Trace. LNT teaches individuals and groups who plan to enjoy the outdoors to: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. Practicing these seven principles will help preserve the hiking experience for all hikers today, and in the future.
In addition to these opportunities, some Green Mountain Club sections have themselves created successful youth education programs. The Montpelier Section created and manages the Young Adventurers’ Club which invites parents and children to hike together. These outdoor adventures offer children opportunities to explore the outdoors and enjoy age-appropriate hikes. They also help parents learn from other parents about how to hike with children in ways that encourage a love for hiking and healthy living. Other GMC sections have developed similar programing.
The Green Mountain Club also provides workshops and learning experiences to adults interested in developing and honing their outdoor skills. These include wilderness first aid workshops, map and compass training, and end-to-ender panels. To participate in one of these workshops, check our online calendar and watch for upcoming events in your Long Trail News quarterly member magazine.
The Green Mountain Club also periodically hosts the James P. Taylor Outdoor Adventure Series, named after the man who first envisioned the Long Trail. For more than one hundred years, the Long Trail has inspired Vermonters to seek adventure in the Green Mountains and beyond. The Taylor Series brings such adventures to you through stories and photographs. These presentations take place at the club’s Waterbury Center headquarters as well as around the state hosted by GMC’s local sections. Proceeds support the sections and the club’s education program.
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The Green Mountain Club visitor center on Route 100 in Waterbury Center was completed in 2009. This beautiful facility is open to the public seven days a week during the hiking season and five days a week during the winter and mud seasons.
The visitor center provides guests with up-to-date hiker information, a variety Long Trail merchandise, access to the Short Trail through the woods, public picnic area, composting toilets, spectacular views of the Green Mountain and Worchester ranges, and free Green Mountain Coffee.
This facility is powered by 100% on-site renewable energy provided by seven solar trackers and a roof array – along with extensive energy efficiency design aspects. The heat and hot water comes from a clean-burning wood gasification boiler which burns chord wood sustainably harvested from club-owned land in northern Vermont and storing excess heat in large storage containers.
This facility also provides office space to GMC staff and a meeting hall for GMC events – and available for rent.
For more information, click here.
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The Green Mountain Club pioneered the caretaker program. Caretakers help protect and maintain many of our most fragile hiking resources such as heavily used camping areas, fragile mountain ponds, popular lodges, and fragile alpine vegetation on mountain summits.
The caretaker program began in 1920 and went until the early 1940s (World War II). Early club caretakers spend their summers and falls living in and working around Long Trail camps and lodges. For a small fee, these GMC staffers helped keep the lodges in good shape, take care of trail work nearby, and make sure there was firewood – and later kerosene – available for hikers to cook their meals on the stoves that Long Trail lodges used to have*. The early caretakers were paid by the small fees ($0.50 in the 1930s) they collected and by selling food and blankets to hikers. The first caretakers were hired by the Burlington Section for Taft and Butler Lodges.
While many of the caretaker tasks remain the same today as they did when the program began in 1920, caretakers are also tasked with the ecologically vital task of protective fragile alpine vegetation, preserving delicate wilderness shorelines, and doing the dirty but necessary work of managing the waste produced by thousands of hikers using privies along the trail. This shift began in the 1960s with the start of the Ranger-Naturalist program. With the boom in hiking in the mid-1970s, the stewardship efforts led by GMC caretakers was a game changer. As a result, alpine vegetation continues to grow on our tallest mountains, mountain lakes remain clean, and water sources both in the mountains and below are not contaminated by human waste from hiking facilities. The Naturalist program complimented – and eventually merged with – the club’s existing shelter caretaker program.
Caretakers today spend much of their time on summits such as Stratton Mountain, Mt. Abraham, Camels Hump, and Mt. Mansfield. They not only help protect the vegetation and discourage littering, but they provide vital support for hikers in need of directions or simply wisdom about the terrain.
To supplement the great work of the club’s paid caretakers, the club organizes and trains some volunteer caretakers. These individuals play an important role in preserving the most fragile natural areas along the Long Trail.
Caretakers also support and protect busy mountain bodies of water like Stratton Pond and Griffith Lake. These busy areas might fall victim to disrepair if not for the hard work and occasional helpful guidance of GMC caretakers.
This program is supported by Vermont’s ski areas, the Mt. Mansfield Colocation Corporation, the U.S. Forest Service, the state of Vermont, and the Green Mountain Club through the support of its members.
*Most shelters on the Long Trail no longer have wood stoves primarily due to the toll that firewood collection has on the environment (especially in fragile, subalpine zones)
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GMC Shelters and Overnight Sites
The Green Mountain Club manages almost 70 overnight sites on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail systems. This include 62 shelters, lodges or camps; and 6 tenting areas.
Every Green Mountain Club shelter is unique. The shelter system includes stone walled sites like Governor Clement Shelter, Cooper Lodge, or Happy Hill; three sided wood lean-tos like Emily Proctor, Battell, or Puffer; enclosed wooden lodges like Jay Camp, Spruce or the biggest and oldest shelter site Taft Lodge; or partially-enclosed camps like Bromley, Roundtop, or Stratton Pond.
Oversite of shelter construction, renovation, and maintenance is led by the Green Mountain Club. The club partners with the land manager in any significant changes to a shelter. Most major shelter construction projects are undertaken by GMC’s Long Trail Patrol with strong support from club volunteers and partners.
Long Trail and Appalachian Trail overnight sites are open to the public. The majority of sites are free for overnight use.
The club charges a $5 fee at high-use overnight sites with a caretaker present to help offset the cost of the caretaker program. That said, the majority of caretaker salaries and shelter repairs are paid for with Green Mountain Club membership dues, donations, and support from partners like the state of Vermont, Forest Service, broadcasters, and ski areas.
The shelters are first come, first serve and there are no reservations. All hikers are welcome to use the shelters and share the space with each other. If a shelter is full, hikers with tents are encouraged to tent in appropriate tenting areas (e.g. below 2,500 on a designated tent site or well away from the trail).
Groups are strongly encouraged to contact the club’s Group Outreach Specialist to assure that they can locate an appropriate group overnight site. Permits are necessary for group use in State or Federal land. Overnight group outings should not exceed 10 participants. Group day hikes should not exceed 20 hikers.
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The Green Mountain Club was proud to support the Vermont Land Trust’s conservation of the Bolton Nordic Area and its ski trails in 2013. In support of this project and in hopes of providing hiking options in Bolton Valley, the club agreed to manage Bolton Lodge, which it built in 1928, and establish up to two side trails to the Long Trail. This valley was the home of the Long Trail itself for its first 70 years and is a spectacular resource for the hiking, skiing, and conservation communities. The club is proud to work with its state and private partners on this project.
The Long Trail has been designated by the State of Vermont as part of the Vermont Trails System. The Green Mountain Club is also a leading participant in the Trails and Greenways Council.
The Green Mountain Club supports the connection of the North Country National Scenic Trail from its current eastern terminus at Crown Point, NY to the Long Trail near Brandon Gap and eventually the Appalachian Trail all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The club was willing to support it based on assurances that this project will only work with willing land owners in establishing a trail corridor and after determining that potential increased impacts on the Long and Appalachian Trails would be minimal. The North Country would offer another outstanding hiking and walking opportunity to Vermonters and our guests.
The Green Mountain Club routinely partners with other local, statewide, and national conservation organizations to support the Long Trail. For example, the club has partnered with the Trust for Public Land to support their landscape-scale conservation work near the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail corridors while building support for the club’s land stewardship and education work.
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