Hedgehog Mountain planning committee invites public to actively share ideas.

A planning committee, charged with creating a management and use plan for the Hedgehog Mountain trail system, is hosting a public “walking meeting” on Saturday, May 2.

People are invited to arrive at the Hunter Road Field House at 9 a.m., and set out on the walk. Guides will help the walkers evaluate the trail system. At 10, participants will return to the field house and exchange comments.

The trail planning committee consists of managers of the town-owned properties of the Hedgehog Mountain area, including the Freeport Conservation Commission, Regional School Unit 5, Freeport Public Works and the Freeport Planning Department. Town Planner Donna Larson said that the Conservation Commission manages the Hedgehog Mountain side of the trail system, while the high school cross country and track teams and their coach, Brian Berkemeyer, manage the Pownal Road Fields side, where the cross-country course is located.

“This is an opportunity for people to get out and see what’s out there,” Larson said. “There will be guides. We’ll also have maps and a place for people to comment.”

Larson said that people mostly use the trails for walking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

One of the questions, she said, is just how well the trails should be maintained. Some of the trails are more pristine, with rocks and roots along them.

Usage is the other big question, she said. Though the use of ATVs is not encouraged, some people use the trails for that purpose. Snowmobilers use a small portion of the trails.

“It’s all about public input,” Larson said. “Rather than having a meeting at the town office, we want to have people right out there.”

Larson said that ultimately, the Town Council will decide what activities can be pursued on the trails.

Berkemeyer said that the 5K cross-country course runs from the Pownal Road Fields to near the Hunter Road Fields.

The Hedgehog Mountain trails also consist of the Hedgehog Mountain trail, the Hunter Road trail and the undeveloped Keith property, Berkemeyer said.

“This committee is trying to find out best use for all the trails and to tie all the trails together,” he said. “The whole Keith property piece is not developed at all. Right now the trails are all in pieces.”

Berkemeyer said that some people would like to see a portion of the Hedgehog Mountain trails used for mountain biking.

“I know there’s a group of people who want that,” he said. “Some of these trails could remain pristine, but they all need maintenance.”

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