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Friday, October 14, 2016

Scenic Pioneer Trail hiking system opens


President Sullivan speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Pioneer Trail hiking system
Offering 4.5 miles of trails and gorgeous views of nearby scenery, Alfred State’s Pioneer Trail system is now officially open. Located within a 200-acre wooded area, the Pioneer Trail includes three hikes to challenge all levels of physical fitness, while exploring the forest, discovering wildlife, and taking in the scenery. All trails begin and end at the parking area located behind and above the Orvis Activities Center (parking lot 24).
Each of the three trails is designated with a different-colored hiker icon: blue for the Pioneer Fitness Trail, green for the Happy Valley Trail, and yellow for the Cross Country Trail.
The one-mile Pioneer Fitness Trail offers a novice-to-intermediate challenge to trail-goers, and also features fitness stations. The intermediate-to-difficult one-and-a-half-mile Happy Valley Trail offers some significant climbs and allows hikers to explore what was originally developed as the Happy Valley Ski Hill.
The two-mile Cross Country Trail is designed for running, walking, and cross-country skiing. It delivers scenic views of the village, college, and athletic fields, and is novice-to-intermediate in level of difficulty.
To mark the opening of the trails, the college held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by students, faculty, and staff. Welcoming everyone in attendance was Spencer Peavey, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.
“These trails will offer students an additional outlet on campus for fitness and recreation,” he said. “They will also offer faculty and staff members a great opportunity during breaks.”
Peavey was one of numerous individuals and groups who helped make the trail system a reality. Credit also goes to President Dr. Skip Sullivan, Building Trades Assistant Professor Mark Payne and his heavy equipment operations students who helped create paths throughout the trail system, Student Senate, and Vice President for Student Affairs Gregory Sammons.
Amy Miller, coordinator of Civic Engagement and residence director of Main Gate A, mentioned that clubs and organizations have the opportunity to sponsor a portion of the trail, and read aloud the names of those that have already committed to caring for one-tenth of a mile of the trail.
Sammons noted that the vision for the trail system has been years in the making, and is still a work in progress. “Not only are we going to have additional organizations adopting it, but we will be adding more fitness stations,” he said. “We have more ideas and we welcome your ideas. There’s a lot of opportunity to make this a one-of-a-kind amenity.” Such amenities as the new trail system, Sullivan said, do not happen without a lot of hard work, a lot of preparation, and a lot of people behind the scenes.
“I’m honored to stand up and say, ‘Look what we’ve got now,’” he said, adding, “Very few campuses have the aesthetics that this campus has, and we want to recognize and celebrate that.”
Speaking at the end of the ceremony was Cassandra Bull, a civic engagement advocate and an agricultural technology major from Saratoga Springs. She provided an overview of the scavenger hunt and social media challenge that followed the ceremony, both of which featured prizes for the students, who cut through the ribbon on their walk up one of the trails.