Phase one of the Chumbley Woods Trail, the newest addition to Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park, offers a fresh perspective of some of the more well-worn features of the park.
The trailhead is on Powers Bridge Road, just out of Manchester on the right. It’s a 1.65 mile Out and Back trail with a large loop at the end.
Chumbley Woods starts on the flat expanse of woods that flank Powers Bridge Road. The flat, wide trail winds easily until it drops down to the river gorge, where it narrows to a moderately rugged trail. It’s this section of the trail that sees the path’s 120 foot of elevation loss.
Once the trail reaches the river, it levels out and breaks sharply right into a half mile loop that runs from the Forks of the River area (across from Old Stone Fort Golf Course) to follow the Little Duck River and shadows the Backbone Ridge Trail cliff line. Much of this trail is right now rough with flood debris and, as of last Wednesday, still pretty soggy along the old utility roadway.
The loop’s turnaround is just before a small craggy gap that cuts into the steep hills adjacent to the river.
The walk back retraces the way in and the incline and at times slippery (where the incline cut through a band of flinty material). Some hikers might find this portion a bit challenging, but overall the trail is a smooth, easy hike.
Park Ranger Leigh Gardner said that this is the first in a series of planned trails. There will be two more loops off of the main trail.
She said the nonprofit organization Friends of Old Stone Fort was instrumental in the construction of the trail.
“They are members of the community that enjoy Old Stone Fort and want to give back to Old Stone Fort,” Gardner said.
Gardner said that sweat equity is how you make a new trail.
“First you mark it with flagging tape. We have a trail meister, a person named Michael Meister,” she said.
Meister troubleshoots the flagged trail to make sure it’s in the right spot and if needed can help with bridge projects or remove boulders.
The trail is then blazed to mark the path.
“Then you’re out there with basically fire rakes and shovels. You’re going to get blisters on your hands and probably bleed a little bit,” Gardner said.
“Building trails is not for the faint of heart, but obviously worth it,” she added.
The Friends of Old Stone Fort contributed much of the works to the trail along with the seasonal interpretive rangers.
Apportion of the trail is built on an old roadbed, but still the project took several months to complete.
“It’s gorgeous out there,” Gardner said.
Those interested in volunteering or donating can contact the Friends of Old Stone Fort at https://friendsofosf.wixsite.com/friendsofosf/explore-osf.