Each year, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources selects a trail for the “Trail Of The Year” award, and this time around we have nominated the Susquehannock Trail System for this award.

The winner gets a substantial monetary payday, with some stipulations to go along with it. The money must be used primarily for publicity and promotion of the trail, including things like informational kiosks, posters, brochures, etc.

It cannot be used for the purchase of tools, building of shelters and bridges, etc. The STC is well on its way to erecting a series of shelters and bridges, thanks to a robust membership and generous donations.

So, if successful, this award will be most helpful in promoting our trail, even though we’re already getting a lot of compliments on our efforts of providing one of the best backcountry experiences for hikers and backpackers.

We’ve managed to acquire a decent selection of tools for the use of the many volunteer maintainers, which this year have totaled about 58 so far, with about 30 of those having a dedicated section to look after.

Many of the volunteers use their personal equipment for this work. For instance, if someone happens to cut firewood, do debris cleanup type of work, or just handyman type of duties, they usually have a favorite chainsaw, loppers, etc.

Our saws of choice are the Stihl 170s, along with a couple of the larger models, which we find will handle probably 90% of the problems we encounter. Occasionally we have to call for help from someone with a bigger saw, when we find a monster tree has fallen.

And for those who do not operate a chainsaw (and some who do), the Stihl brushcutters are the tool of choice, and they put these to good use.

We currently are maintaining the 84 miles of the STS, along with two crossover connector trails of six miles and eight miles respectively. And now that we have an agreement with DCNR for the use of the Cherry Springs fire tower ranger cabin, along with that comes the maintenance of the Mount Brodhead Trail System.

This is a loop trail which extends both north and south of Rt. 44 from the area of Water Tank Vista to the Log Grade Trail kiosk along Rt. 44. The southern loop is Log Grade Trail and a short section of the STS, while the northern loop is Switchback Trail, and is mostly railroad grade with the switchbacks which allowed the trains to descend the hill so they could go on into Galeton. And for the history buffs, the trains used to go under Rt. 44 at Water Tank Vista.

Here is something you may want to mark on your 2021 calendar: as you probably know, the Perseverance space capsule blasted off atop a giant Atlas rocket on July 30, bound for Mars.

It is scheduled to arrive on Feb. 21, a trip of nearly seven months, at what speeds I’d only be guessing, but a long trip indeed.

Bill Boyd is a member of the Susquehannock Trail Club. He can be reached at billboydsts@gmail.com.