BEEKMANTOWN — Dr. Philip C. Walker held a special place in his heart for the natural beauty of Point au Roche State Park.
Now, more than two decades after his death, his legacy as a naturalist and educator continues to grow.
As part of the “I Love Our Park” celebration last Saturday, the Friends of Point Au Roche group rededicated the Philip C. Walker Memorial Nature Trail, a 1.8-mile walking route that traverses a variety of ecosystems across the park.
“We are so honored,” said Walker’s daughter Rachel Walker, who attended the re-dedication with her sister, Elizabeth Bosworth, and Dr. Walker’s granddaughter, Rheta Recore. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.
“Dad had such an enthusiastic love of nature,” she added. “He believed in sharing that with people.”
Speaking to a few dozen people in attendance, Rachel thanked the volunteers from Friends of Point au Roche, the staff of the State Park and several other groups and individuals who contributed to the reopening of the Walker Trail.
She told those in attendance that her father would have been “extraordinarily pleased” with the park’s efforts to preserve the area’s natural habitats.
Point au Roche Park was “one of his favorite places on Earth,” she added.
Friends President Mary L. Simmons expressed her appreciation for the efforts of everyone involved and offered informational plaques from the original trail to each of Dr. Walker’s daughters.
“The revitalization of Dr. Walker’s trail has been going on for some time now,” said Gerry O’Connor, vice president for the Friends and chair for the trail committee.
He noted that efforts to revise the original trail took a brief hiatus in 2011 following the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
The original walking path, dedicated in 2002, followed a circular route down the center of Long Point and then along the shoreline of Lake Champlain and included several interpretive plaques that described the fauna or history of a particular location.