By Dr. J. Arthur Dobson
Having read an article on the Appalachian Trail in the National Geographic, I wished that we had something of that nature in our area. The more I thought the more I liked the idea and decided to do something about it. I had hunted many areas in Albert County and decided that a trail from Moncton to Fundy National Park should prove interesting.
In the fall of 1949 most of my hunting outings turned into trips to areas that a map survey suggested that a trail should go. There was a hunting trip with my father, Dr. J.W. Dobson, in the Flint Hill area during which I explored the Hayward Pinnacle area. Later that fall I made trips to the lookouts on Prosser Brook and a very encouraging trip up the Mill Creek. Later that fall actual work was started with the clearing from the Pine Glen Road along the south bank of the creek, which saw about four miles of clearing before snow in late January finished work of the winter.
Jack Sutcliffe and I spent two overnight camps in January that year and with the help of his son, John, Gary Bailey, David Wright, Don Munns, and Bill Blights, we cleared about four miles. My father, always an avid outdoorsman, helped and gave us many pointers on trail clearing and camping out. Also in January, Joe Folkins flew my daughter Becky and me over the trail route giving me my first look at the trail route from the air.
The winter months were spent obtaining trail clearing guides and films from the Appalachian Trail Association, talking to various groups who might be interested in taking on a section of the trail.
Mid-May 1960 saw Jack Sutcliffe and me hiking to the end of the trail at Mile 4, surveying winter damage and checking the work we had done during the winter.
A June holiday that year was spent near the far end of the trail scouting Hayward Brook, the Gold Mine and the area behind the park. The idea at that time was to parallel the north park boundary and to extend the trail to Saint John. Late in June that year, Scouts Alan Whitman, Ralph Longstaff and Billy Brown camped and scouted the area from the Hillsborough power line to the Tower Road. July 9 saw the first white painted blazes from Pine Glen Road to Bryden Brook on Mill Creek, about 1 1/2 miles, and later that month an overnight trip with the scouts extended the painting to Mile 3.5. In October the trail was cleared and painted from Hillsborough power line to the Tower Road. Later in November we scouted the Upham Brook area with clearing to Hayward Pinnacle; December 20, Dad and I completed the Prosser Brook section. Also the Mill Creek section was cleared around the Mill Creed Meadows and toward the Hillsborough power line, with Dad finishing through to the power line on New Years. New Year also saw the first of the big winter camps, this one at Hayward Pinnacle. Saint John's Church scouts with Art Clowes, Bill Lenco, Bob Keating and also Scouts from Riverview, Alma, and Hillsborough spent four days camped behind the Pinnacle.
Spring 1961 saw much activity on the Mill Creek section. Work was pushed ahead to get the whole section marked and ready for a District Scout exercise May 27-28. Operation Challenge saw many teams of scouts from the area make their way from Pine Glen to Baltimore Station on a rainy overnight hike.
August saw Dad and me surveying from Blackwood Lake to Gold Mine, and to the Kent Road.
A couple of days in September saw Dad and me clear the short section from Steeves Mill to the Tower Road. In a weekend scout outing in October with Art Clowe, Ken Ostler, Bruce Close, we worked at clearing from the Kent Road toward Hayward Pinnale and from the road to the head swamp of Crooked Creek and later camp established a route through to Blackwood Lake.
November saw work on the Berryton Brook section this being completed in early December. That month also saw some work on the Steeve's Mill's section. The New Year's camp that year was held at the Mill Creek Meadows and featured air-dropped supplies.
January 1962 saw the Steeve's Mill to Berrytown section blazed, and some rerouting of Prosser Brook to Upham Brook. A front bicycle assembly with a cyclometer allowed measuring and creating half mile posts on the trail.
In July, I painted the first trail sign. The signing of the trail was completed in May 1965. Maps and brochures and guides for the trail were also prepared and many mailed out during this period. July 9, 1963 saw Art Clowes, Bob Buchanan and me doing the first end to end hike. During this period trail work tended to become more maintenance with paint blazes being renewed every two years and clearing winter damage and lumbering areas, an ongoing process, and many Scout and Rover trips.
In 1967, we saw the construction of huts at the Mill Creek Meadows and the Head of Prosser Brook. Much work and many memorable trips with the Rover group mark the next few years. Some of the young men in that group include Alan and Rick Whitman, Ken Westrup, Alan Ostler, Mac Steeves, Dane Tremblay, Terry Atkins, Mike Woodley, Art McFadden, Perry Doige, Fred and Greg Horton, Dale Babcock, Leonard and Brian McShane.