A unique legacy of equestrian trail riding and open space can be protected... forever.
Working directly with landowners, local realtors and land trusts, GMHA preserves equestrian trails forever through the innovative use of permanent trail easements. Easements run with the land, owner-to-owner.
As more landowners donate trail easements to GMHA, those contemplating a donation are often motivated to act, creating a gradual natural pattern of connection. Sharing land in this traditional way connects people as well as land with a basic understanding of neighborly respect and gratitude.
“Trail systems are incredibly fragile. One landowner or one change of ownership can break a whole chain, unless there is a legal right-of-way.”
- Darby Bradley, Vermont Land Trust
When making connections within GMHA’s vast equestrian trail network, we strive to integrate trails on private land with public land and roadways. This includes conserved private land with provisions for recreational use held by local land trusts such as the New England Forestry Foundation, the Vermont Land Trust, and the Upper Valley Land Trust. It also includes Town forests and land owned by the State of Vermont.
Easements can be customized to each landowner’s specific needs—including privacy—and assures that trails will be well-maintained. For more information please see our Frequently Asked Questions.
Become part of GMHA’s 88-year old legacy
Protect an equestrian trail FOREVER. Here’s how:
A Friendly and Straightforward Process:
- Meet and discuss goals; review existing maps; walk trail(s)
- Define the trail location and property boundary with GPS and create GIS map
- Customize GMHA's easement to meet the needs of both parties
- Agree on a maintenance plan
- Record the executed trail easement with deed at Town Office
Need more info? Contact Michelle Grald by email or by phone at (802) 457-1509, ext. 220.
Read about some of our trail donors...
East Hill Conservation Project
East Hill, finalized in 2011, was an ambitious community conservation project with local landowners, Tom Debevoise and Laurie Livingston and Upper Valley Land Trust. GMHA took the lead with a $100,000 pledge toward a $490,000 community fundraising goal to conserve an undeveloped 71-acre parcel of land providing the scenic backdrop for the historic village of South Woodstock. This project permanently secured “Upwey Trail,” connecting directly to GMHA grounds. The property adds to 515 acres of land already conserved in the neighborhood.
This multi-landowner project finalized in 2014. It is a good example of cooperation and goodwill among five “horse properties” that began two-and-a-half years and three property transfers ago. Highfield Drive is a private road off Banister Road. Shirley and Bob Fenner extended their Gambol Hill Farm Trail. Amy Bresky donated an easement to GMHA. Robin Simpson and Gordon Troy allow horses over their access easement. Laurie and Dan Hall continue access via revocable permission. Cynthia Rankin and Geoffrey O’Brien welcome horse traffic along their stone wall fenceline.
Majestic Mount Ascutney watches over riders on many trails.
LJ's Trail & LJ's Other Trail
"One day, when I was at the kitchen sink, I glanced up from what I was doing and an antique four-in-hand coach was going by. The harnesses were beautiful with lots of shiny brass hardware. It was incredible.
GMHA is one of a kind! All of us who love it should commit to protecting it and the land."
- Linda Johnson
Gambol Hill Farm Trail
“We donated a trail easement to GMHA not only because we support the efforts of its trail preservation program, but we always welcome and love watching the horses go through.”
- Shirley and Bob Fenner
Serenity Farm Trail
"The extensive equestrian trail network that radiates out from South Woodstock is one of the most wonderful and sacred treasures in the area. Unfortunately, this network is threatened by new landowners who don't understand or appreciate its significance and deny access to the trails over their property.
We felt compelled to do our part to help protect this gem for future generations. Granting an easement to GMHA as a steward for the trail over our property was an easy decision for us."
Molly, Jane and Carlisle Spencer—mother, daughter, and son—of West Windsor, approached GMHA with a well-thought out plan to increase safety for local riders and carriage drivers at a dangerous curve. Their solution: A scenic trail through their open meadow to the end of their driveway at the watering trough.
Caper Hill Farm Trails
West Windsor and Reading
“GMHA at one time had some shirts identifying it as a ‘special place.’ To us, there is another special place which is inextricably tied to GMHA and that is Caper Hill. Our parents bought Caper Hill Farm in 1959 when we ranged in ages from 18 to not-yet-born. But over the last 40 years, when we visited one special place, we invariably visited the other. And so it is that we would like to see this partnership continue. We would like to ensure that the preservation and enjoyment of the trails and views of Caper Hill continue to be available to all GMHA members and event participants. Doing so honors our parents’ spirit of generosity.”
- The Leslie Family
Bonnie's Trail and Reeves Trail
“The trail across the top of the property is named ‘Bonnie’s Trail’ in memory of my youngest daughter. Bonnie, her husband and I rode this trail in October 1999, the last trail ride she took before she was killed three weeks later in a traffic accident in New York City. We would like to see this beautiful area preserved for future generations.”
- Frank and Rosemary Moore
“Making sure that our trails were permanently protected through GMHA was first and foremost in our minds.”
Juniper Trail and Route 66 Trail
"Well, why not donate trails?
It's a privilege to share my bit of South Woodstock with others who love horses and trail riding in beautiful, unspoiled Vermont.
The easement process is friendly and thorough...I encourage other landowners to pick up the phone and donate more trails."
Interested? Make the Call!
Trail Preservation Specialist
(802) 457-1509 x 220