Extension Bolsters Umbagog Trail Accessibility

Maintenance and improvements on tap for Magalloway Trail
A Sign Reading "Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, Magalloway River Trail"

A little time spent in the forest is incredibly enriching. However, navigating outdoor trails can be difficult for people who use wheelchairs or have limited mobility. Recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) have been improving trail accessibility at the Magalloway Trail at the Umbagog Wildlife Refuge in Errol, and they’re doing so with help from the community facilitated by UNH Cooperative Extension. 

In fact, community input spurred the project. The Magalloway Trail is a popular spot for visitors, especially people who use wheelchairs, thanks to its sections of relatively smooth crushed stone. Following a visit to the trail one afternoon, local resident Bob Congdon, who uses a wheelchair, suggested to Umbagog’s refuge manager that expanding the trail’s accessible portions, specifically widening some bridges and improving areas of degraded surface, would improve the trail. 

This summer, YCC members are doing just that. FWS also asked Congdon and UNH Extension staff to visit the trail again and provide feedback on the facilities.  

image of a man in a wheelchair accompanied by several people on a forest trail
Congdon (front), assisted by Prusik (center), are toured on the trail by Drew (right), and the various YCC workers.

Improving Trail Accessibility

Ian Drew and Rose Erin Moylan of YCC have been working with youth volunteers on improving the Magalloway River Trail to meet standards set in the Americans With Disabilities Act.  On June 27, Congdon, and Brendan Prusik, Coös county forester for UNH Extension, visited the site so that Congdon could offer advice on the trail updates. 

So far, YCC volunteers have begun to replace the trail’s several bridges with new structures that are wide enough for a wheelchair to cross. They have also widened many areas of the trail to increase accessibility and have been working on re-laying many of the gravel paths so that they are smoother and easier to navigate. 

While there, Prusik and Congdon toured the site and provided feedback on strategies for making the trail more accessible. Congdon especially enjoyed sharing his thoughts and experiences and said he plans to use the trail once it is completed.

Several YCC workers stand around a Congdon, Accompanied by Prusik
Congdon (center), and Prusik (back, right), discuss the work being done by the YCC volunteers.