The concept of the Susquehannock Trail System (STS) was initiated in 1966 by William D. Fish, Jr., with the support of the local tourist promotion agency, Potter County Recreation Inc. The Susquehannock Trail Club (STC) was formed the following year to plan, scout, build, mark, maintain, and promote the trail system. Club members are volunteer hikers and/or outdoor enthusiasts who do this work without monetary compensation or state funding. This group of dedicated individuals also serves as a "watchdog" to prevent encroachments and keep an eye open for potential developments that might adversely affect the trail.
Over the years, this oversight has evolved into a system whereby the trail is now broken into 14 maintenance sections. These range from as short as 2½ miles along Jacobs Hollow and Lieb Run to as long as about 10 miles in the Hammersley Wild Area. Depending on the length and ruggedness of the section, it may be maintained by an individual, a husband-and-wife team, a small group of friends, or even a Boy Scout Troop with help from the Scoutmaster, families, or friends of the troop. Some of these volunteers are local folks, but others come from a few hundred miles away to go over their section once or twice a year.
Typically the workers cover their beat early in the spring. Once this initial yearly check is complete, the volunteers will periodically recheck, especially after severe windstorms and other weather conditions, and remove broken limbs and fallen trees. Later in the hiking season when the foliage, ferns, and briars are growing profusely, further cleaning is done to keep the trail clear for the hikers to enjoy.
If a major storm has blown down timber-size trees across the trail, the club will notify the local forest district. The district will determine whether the value of the timber warrants a commercial salvage sale. If it does, the club will postpone trail clearing until a logging company has removed and salvaged the logs from the fallen trees. In those cases, a temporary detour trail may be marked around the blowdown area.
Regular trail maintenance work is squeezed into the schedules of the volunteers. But not all of them are able to go over their section every time a windstorm knocks down a bunch of tree branches. Realizing that, a small group of, mostly retired club members has formed a quick-response team dubbed, "The Ready Five", to handle immediate problems along the trail. This has worked rather well for a couple of seasons. But The Ready Five could be much more effective if the group were "The Ready Ten,” or even “The Ready Fifteen." If you would be interested in volunteering a few hours now and then--or even joining our maintenance teams as a “Ready Five+” member or section maintainer--you are hereby cordially invited to do so.
Usually there is trail work being performed somewhere along the STS at any given time except midwinter, so if you feel that you can lend a hand, please contact the club. The trail maintenance groups regularly report on what a good time they have working on the trail, so it's obviously not all drudgery. There is something for everyone, from chainsaw work, to lopping limbs, running a weed whacker, tossing debris off the trail, or repainting blazes. Regardless of the type of work, each is important in keeping the trail in good hiking condition for all to enjoy.
To join us, please contact the STC trail maintenance chairman, Bill Boyd via phone at (814) 274-7529, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.