WEST NEWBURY — A transformation of sorts is underway in the Pipestave Hill area of town.

A contractor for the Essex County Trail Association recently finished clearing brush, debris and invasive plants from the upper path linking the trails of Mill Pond and Pipestave Hill to the Riverbend Conservation Area.

It is the first phase of a rehabilitation project for The Red Trail — also known as the Water Tower or Page School Trail.

Brush and vines were cleared from approximately one-fifth of a mile of the trail’s most overgrown section, widening it to about 20 feet from the lawn beside the Page School driveway to 100 feet up from the stone wall at the foot of the hill, according to residents Deb Hamilton, an association board member, and John Dodge, chair of the Open Space Committee. 

“Now school kids, trail walkers and equestrians can all enjoy a rugged trail previously clogged by a brambly tangle of multiflora rose, bittersweet, briar canes and strangled trees,” Hamilton and Dodge noted in a press release.

The trail is worn from heavy use and a gully has deepened over the years. The trail route can now more easily be shifted onto higher ground.

“More work should be done in the spring to fill in gullies, create swales and install water bars as needed,” Hamilton and Dodge stated after walking the newly cleared trail Jan. 9.

Because there are no wetlands adjacent to the trail, the upgrade did not require Conservation Commission approval under the association’s trail management plan.

This is the latest West Newbury project undertaken by the association in collaboration with the West Newbury Riding and Driving Club, the Open Space Committee and others.

The Coffin Street boardwalk into Riverbend West, completed in November, was also an association project completed by bridge builder Bob Weatherell working with town volunteers.

“While the trail right-of-way appears raw and bare now, vegetation will soon cover the ground,” Hamilton and Dodge wrote, adding that trail stewards, open space volunteers, Page School parents and members of the Riding and Driving Club need to pick up loppers and rakes “to perform ongoing trail maintenance here and on our many other beautiful footpaths in the years to come.”

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