History & Overview
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 maintain a network of foot trails connecting the paths on Bluff Mountain in Island Pond, Gore Mountain in Avery’s Gore, and the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Brunswick via a backcountry path that traverses the remote and rugged working forestlands of northern Essex County. The Kingdom Heritage Trail System opened in June 2019.
In 1998, Champion International sold 132,000 acres of land in northeastern Vermont. Through a complex partnership, these lands were divided into three parcels. The most ecologically significant areas became public lands, while the largest areas continued as private working forest. In 2009, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources approved the Green Mountain Club as corridor manager for hiking trails on former Champion lands. The GMC renewed its status as corridor manager in 2015. In 2013, the former Champion lands were renamed Kingdom Heritage Lands and they encompass the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the public access easement on the private timberlands currently owned by Plum Creek Timber Company.
You can read the GMC’s corridor manager proposal here and learn more about the partnership that makes managing this land possible by watching the video below.
The Green Mountain Club has two cabins on the shore of Wheeler Pond located in Barton, Vermont. The cabins are nearby Lake Willoughby, which is the center of the Northeast Kingdom hiking trails that cover nearly 40 miles in the area. The hiking trails offer unique cliffs and vistas, and Green Mountain Club volunteers maintain the cabins and even stock the firewood.
These cabins are for rent year-round. For reservations, please use our online reservation system.
Maintenance & Protection
The Northeast Kingdom 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 Mountain, Bluff Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Moose Mountain.
Additionally, 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.