“The choice is ours; whatever lies at the end of the trail will be the collective effort of each of us as individuals.” – John R. Schaefer
This quote adorns a beautiful, trail-side bench on DLLT’s new interpretive trail, Trail to Tomorrow, located in a wooded grove just south of Tough End in Grand Lake Stream. Inspired by the growing need for conservation education, John R. Schaefer wrote an essay that outlined the importance of proper training and instruction for teachers involved in science education. Published in 1957 in Yale Conservation Studies, his essay titled, “Trail To Tomorrow,” outlined the nationwide importance of proper training for teachers who were interested in the burgeoning field of environmental and natural resource education. It was his hope and vision that this knowledge and respect for the natural world would be passed on to the next generation of conservation stewards.
Although John R. Schaefer only visited Grand Lake Stream once, his passion for the outdoors and his conservation ethic was deeply instilled in his son, Stephen Schaefer, who is a founding Board Member of Downeast Lakes Land Trust. The Schaefer family’s vision for this trail was honored this past Saturday with a dedication ceremony and group hike, highlighting the educational importance of points along the trail. With three generations present, family members traveled from as far as Arizona and Texas to take part in this ceremony. Steve and Laura Schaefer’s young granddaughters, Ingrid and Willa, added their own touch by placing geocaches along the trail in honor of their grandparents. The day was capped off with a celebratory cookout at the Schaefer’s home on Tough End. The Schaefer family hopes that hikers and community members will enjoy the trail for its educational value.
Constructed by the Maine Conservation Corps in 2017, this 0.6-mile trail meanders through several different forest types, complete with interpretive signage and tree and plant identification labels along the route. The trail will be a central focus of future DLLT education programs for local school groups. Parking for the trail can be found at the West Grand Lake Dam parking lot, and a short walk leads to the trailhead. For more information about Downeast Lakes Community Forest hiking trail options, please visit this page.