Art installation guides hikers along local trail.
This spring, Stowe Land Trust partnered with Ms. Kelly, an art teacher, and the 4th grade students at Stowe Elementary School, to create the beautiful trail markers you now see guiding your way up the trail.
The kids were tasked with painting a plant or an animal that visitors might find here on the trail. Our ecosystem in Vermont is incredibly diverse and there were many options to choose from. From bears to skunks and porcupines, salamanders, birch trees and moss, there was a seemingly endless stream of ideas for inspiration. Our Summer Naturalist joined Ms. Kelly in the classroom to introduce the project and share our end goal - a trail marking system that is both educational and functional.
You'll see a variety of fauna on your way up. Some, like the squirrels and salamanders, highlight a smaller ecosystem. These animals may spend their entire lives on the Sunset Rock property. Some of the larger mammals that are depicted, like bears and moose, are great examples of wildlife that need a large swath of land to live on. This shows visitors how Sunset Rock is connected to larger tracts of wilderness in the area like the two state forests flanking our valley – C.C. Putnam State Forest to the east and Mt. Mansfield State Forest to the west. Sunset Rock is a comparatively small conserved piece of land weighing in at 23 acres, but its ecological role is still important.
From a trail maintenance stand point these plaques will serve as a guide along the trail. Despite its short length, the trail up Sunset Rock twists and turns and can at times be hard to find. Most of the trail winds through a white pine forest and the needles that drop from the trees every year blanket the tread-way and disguise the trail. Since this is a popular hike for both locals and visitors alike, we hope that this fun art installation helps everyone from seasoned visitors to first timers find their way up and back again.
The trail head kiosks have gotten a face-lift too! This property is owned by the Town of Stowe and they’ve not only installed new informational panels at the two trail heads (Sunset St. and Taber Hill Rd.), but also added a brand new kiosk at the upper parking lot. Now visitors can learn a bit about the history of the property before they even begin their hike.