The Blueberry HIl Trails in Elizabethtown.
Elizabethtown is making it easier for people to be active outside.
Through a Creating Healthy Places Grant and cooperative work between the town and Jessica Darney Buehler of the Essex County Department of Public Health, the municipality has been working in a number of areas to make it easier for residents and hikers to explore local trails and parts of the community.
“Our effort is focused on working to create opportunities for people to be able to get outside and be healthy,” Buehler said. “We have received markers for the trail system in the town through the grant, and we are working on ways to improve people’s ability to understand and access the system.”
The current Blueberry Hill Trails system includes 22 different routes of varying difficulties, and the trail markers will be used to help hikers know the difficulty of each trail and also provide warnings of what can or cannot be allowed on the trail, such as bikes or motorized vehicles.
Buehler said she and the town are working on a new map of the trail system to help promote the trails in the community.
“I had lived here for a while before I knew that they were up there,” Buehler said. “These trails are a fun and easy way for people of all ages and abilities to get outside and be active.”
Buehler said the new maps will include the distance each trail covers, along with difficulty levels.
At the Oct. 18 meeting of the Elizabethtown Town Board, Councilman Ken Fenimore said they are also working to include GPS coordinates for each trail as well as implementing the use of the markers on the trails.
Along with the creation of a new map, the town has also started a trail stewardship program under which families and community organizations can “adopt” a trail to work on.
“It is really creating local stewardship for the trail system,” Buehler, who has adopted a trail with her family, said. “It is getting people involved and engaged on the local level.”
Buehler also said that work on the Elizabethtown footbridge and Footbridge Park is still progressing after suffering setbacks in late August.
“The work was pretty much done, but it took a hit with (Tropical Storm Irene),” Buehler said. “We are working on some reconstruction on the waterway and the park, and we have a trail that is going in on town property near the footbridge.”
Buehler said that the new trail will be interactive and accessible.
“We want to integrate music and do things that allow people to identify the plants and animals that they will find,” Buehler said. “We are also hoping to make the trail accessible so those with a stroller or wheelchair could take advantage of it.”