Happy Trails

Thanks to Arnie Henry the PLPA maintains 7 miles of hiking trails along the North Shore. If you haven’t taken advantage of them, you’re really missing something.

By Jim McCulley — A few weeks ago week I was treated to a tour of the entire North Shore Trail system by our own intrepid Trail Master Arnie Henry. Part amusement ride, part Peck’s Lake history lesson, it was nearly four hours of breathtaking scenery, amusing conversation and anecdotes, and Peck’s Lake history.

For more than a quarter century, Arnie, and his extensive collection of ATV’s, tractors, snowmobiles, and grooming equipment, has lovingly cleared, maintained, and groomed the 7 miles of trails that snake along Peck’s Lake’s north shore. Yes, 7 miles!

Trail-Master Arnie Henry with his ATV

It wouldn’t surprise me if most Peck Lakers haven’t been on the trail system – or like me, have only been on just a small portion. Well, if you haven’t – you truly don’t know what you are missing! From the Maplewood Extension all the way to Wellington’s Watch, I was awed not only by how beautiful the trails are – but the ENORMOUS amount of time and effort that Arnie has put in cutting the paths and maintaining the 7 miles (yes, I had to say it again) of trails.

But while I was overwhelmed by the sheer effort and creativity it took to build them — and by their serene beauty – no one should be overwhelmed by the trails themselves. Whether you’re an inexperienced — and lazy — hiker like me, or more experienced trekker – there are plenty of trails, loops, and elevations that can be enjoyed by anyone.

The Marsh, just a short hike from North Shore Road

And yes, there is something for everyone — marshes, deep woods, wide open spaces, slender, intimate trails. I felt as if I was in a Robert Frost poem – or as close to a Robert Frost poem as you can get riding in an ATV with Arnie! More than once we took the path less traveled. They’re also not just for hiking. Arnie grooms the trails in winter, so break out your snowshoes or cross-country skis, or just take a winter walk through the woods.

Bring a snack and relax at the Picnic Tables

When I began this post, I mentioned that my tour was also part history lesson. Arnie kept me entertained with decades of Peck’s Lake history, amusing anecdotes, local lore, why this trail is named this and that trail named that, and who lived where, and when.

It also turns out that Arnie and shared a connection of which I was never aware; the wood stove in my house once belonged to Arnie and Kathy! It was a reminder that we just don’t live on a lake, we live in a lake community. It’s part of what makes this place so unique and so special.

Going back to my President’s message, I spoke of changes ahead for the Peck’s Lake community as the old guard looks to make way for the new. The trails are no exception. Arnie could use some help – and if we want to keep the trails, we need to find ways to help him.

At the next board meeting, I will be asking the Board to reconstitute the Trail Committee to help Arnie maintain the trails. We will be trying to create our own “Arnie’s Army” to help him with minor clearing of overgrowth and brush and removing fallen branches. In the meantime, if you happen to be hiking on the trails and see a branch lying across, please pick it up and toss it off the trail. If a tree or tree limb is blocking the trail that you can’t move, let us know.

The View from the Overlook

We tout the trails as a benefit of PLPA membership, but all the thanks go to Arnie, a (very) few other volunteers, and the Peck family, who graciously allow us access to the many scenic acres that make up the trail system. And of course, to the property owners who allow the trails to cross along or behind their property.

If you haven’t, you should check out the trails. There are maps available in the Members Section of the PLPA website (plpa.org) for the entire 7 miles of trails. When you renew your membership, you can also direct a donation to the trails.

Thanks again Arnie for the Happy Trails!