Out for a casual stroll or something a tad more invigorating? Maybe there’s an urge to experience an afternoon nature walk?
For sure, one doesn’t need to search too far in and around Bedford for a suitable trail.
Thanks to the teamwork of the Department of Public Works and the Bedford Trails Committee, there are more than 30 miles of public walking paths. These trails often snake through conservation areas as well as municipal and private properties.
“It’s growing in popularity,” Kristin Dowdy of the DPW said. “[Bedford Trails] Committee members started a Google group for people who want to join in and it’s been gaining in popularity.”
The committee, which sponsors a free trail walk each month, has even published the “The Bedford Trail Guide,” a $10 spiral-bound pocket-size color map guide that’s available at the DPW, the Town Hall and the Depot Park Gift Shop at 120 South Road.
The next trail walk is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 1. Just show up behind the public library, located next to Bedford High School.
“They can average two or three people or 10 people show up, depending on the weather,” Dowdy said.
The trail walk goes on rain or shine. Snowshoes are not an uncommon sight during winter months.
Bedford Trails Committee helps create a vision for the development and sustainability of the Town’s extensive trail network, this includes a land acquisition committee that approaches landowners for permission to use private land as part of the trail system.
The committee also improves and maintains the portion of the trail system that crosses into the town’s conservation areas. The other work includes creating new trails, maintaining existing trails and promote partnerships with other Bedford groups and committees.
It’s all to create a fun and exciting walking environment.
“We have a lot of support [from the DPW],” Bedford Trails Committee chairman Michael Barbehenn said. “As long as I’ve been on the trails committee, we’ve greatly appreciated everything they do.
“It helps that we’re a small town. Our [DPW] is in tune with our needs.”
Barbehenn acknowledged that there have been a few moments when private landowners have balked about granting easements. More often than not, though, the problems are sorted out.
The DPW designs the trails and, with the aid of the trails committee, maintains them as well as encourages the public to use them. Part of the job of informing the public includes the trail guide, which was updated in 2017.
The book is close to being out of date as the DPW and trails committee are always on the look for new walking paths. Committee members often use a hand GPS unit to measure each trail, creating maps that are available online at the Town of Bedford website.
“New trails are coming online from the planning board,” Dowdy said.
New programs, such as Hike With Your Tyke, are also in the planning stages. Also, each week a different committee member leads a hike or trail activity.
These activities include repairing bridges, clearing trails of debris and brush, installing guide signs and helping restore wetlands. They work hand-in-hand with the town’s Conservation Commission,
Barbehenn, a Chicago transplant who moved to Bedford in 2004, is typical of committee members who want to share their love of the outdoors, spending a morning or afternoon outside and in the woods. He has been the committee’s chairman since 2010.
“It’s a good group,” he said. “It’s a labor of love for the people on the committee. We absolutely [take pride] in our accomplishments. We appreciate hearing from people who have been out on the trails.”