By LOHR McKINSTRY, Press-Republican
---- — Despite gloomy weather, more than 40 hikers showed up to celebrate the opening of the new Cheney Mountain trail in Moriah.
The trailhead, located about one mile off Route 9N/22 on Pelfershire Road, was jammed on the trail’s first day.
Hikers in brightly colored rain slickers lined up at a registration table set up under a canvas canopy at the trailhead. Those who showed up the first day got a Cheney Mountain patch designed by Port Henry artist Lynda Smythe.
The 1,161-foot-high mountain is shaped like a loaf of bread, and its summit has a large, level surface with rock outcrops at the edges.
The view from the top looks over the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east and the Adirondack High Peaks to the northwest. The sight line also takes in the historic Moriah tailings pile, a towering leftover from the days when the town’s iron mines ran full blast.
CARVED OUT BY VOLUNTEERS
A group of volunteers from Moriah, Port Henry, Mineville, Crown Point, Westport, Wadhams and Essex cut the 1.5-mile-long trail on property owned by the Town of Moriah to the summit of Cheney Mountain.
Trail coordinator and Moriah Town Councilman Timothy Garrison said their guiding reason was to enable community access to town-owned property for physical fitness, enjoyable hiking and local history education.
“We wanted to improve our quality of life. The whole thing was volunteers. No money was spent from taxpayer dollars at all. Volunteers cut the trail, put up trail markers.”
It took several months to make the new trail, he said, and they still have to install the sign-in box and more signage.
“It took three different work sessions; then, on cleanup day, we took truckloads of garbage out.”
Garrison said a refrigerator, old tires and general trash had to be removed from the woods off Pelfershire Road to create the new trail.
“It was an old landfill. The town got Cheney Mountain many years ago and had it logged. Instead of just letting it sit here, we decided we might as well let the community utilize it.”
Next, they’ll create a perimeter trail and maybe a dog park, he said.
Moriah Deputy Supervisor Paul Salerno said they’ve been discussing what to do with Cheney Mountain since 2004.
“It was suggested we look into doing something with the property where the community could enjoy the spectacular views. Years later, it was decided by the town board that we would establish a hiking trail to the top of Cheney Mountain.”
The town presented Champlain Area Trails Executive Director Chris Maron with an award for helping create the new hike.
“This is an honor for the organization I work with, Champlain Area Trails. The town has a wonderful resource (in Cheney Mountain). There are other places to hike than the High Peaks. We have trails really close by.
“We need to thank all the people, all the volunteers, who came out and cleaned this up and made an attractive trailhead.”
He said CATS has created about 20 miles of new trails since its inception two years ago.
“We’ve been talking about it (creating new trails) for years, but rather than just continuing to talk about it, we decided to take action.”
Cheney Mountain is listed as hike No. 22 in the new trails brochure and map recently printed by CATS with help from the Essex County Department of Public Health’s Creating Healthy Places Program.
Jordan Craig drove down from Lake Placid to hike the new trail.
“I wouldn’t have missed it,” he said. “This is the newest one. I told my friends, (but) they wouldn’t come down — they said it’s going to be a rainy day.
“I think it’s neat.”
Email Lohr McKinstry: email@example.com