Photo by Lara Watrous
A guided hike was held on Sunday October 28 to celebrate the opening of a new 1.4 mile section of trail in the Rutgers EcoPreserve. The new section has been named the Wildlife Loop Trail and winds through maple-oak-cedar woodlands and open glades. “I am really excited to be able to open up the whole western section of the EcoPreserve to access for nature study, hiking, running, mountain biking, and snowshoeing/skiing,” stated EcoPreserve Faculty Director, Rick Lathrop. The trail traverses a variety of terrain, bringing the grand total of trail mileage in the EcoPreserve to nearly 8 miles in length. Darrell Jones, one of the EcoPreserve land stewards discussed the genesis of the new trail’s name, “In naming the new trail, our trail crew wanted to pay tribute to the variety of wildlife that we had encountered during our two years of working long days in that western section of the preserve, and imagined symbolic trail blazes that expanded on the preserve’s current solid-colored system. With all the volunteer work and student projects conducted in the RUEP, either by student organizations like The Wildlife Society or classes like Natural Resource Management, we hoped that this would name would inspire students to focus on projects that will improve wildlife habitat throughout that area of the preserve.”
Literally more than a ton of lumber needed to be hand-carried over a 1/3 of a mile into the Preserve to build a bridge across the headwaters of Metlar’s Brook and a 100 yard-long boardwalk over a wetland seep. Lathrop commented, “Let’s just say there were a lot of sore shoulders after that effort.” The bulk of the work was undertaken by the land stewards over the past two summers: Ashley Goncalves, Mikhail Harvey, Darrell Jones, Rachel Jones, Alex Morris, Alex Stollery and Faculty Director, Rick Lathrop. Volunteers from the Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society and the Rutgers University Outdoors Club, as well as outside groups including the Raritan Valley Road Runners and the Friends of the Ecological Preserve assisted in the trail construction.