On a day so hot you could fry an egg before it even hit the sidewalk, local officials and volunteers who are nature enthusiasts at heart gathered to break ground on the next leg of a Saratoga countywide recreation path.
The Zim Smith Trail in Round Lake is a major part of the meandering path through picturesque parks and woods that connects Ballston Spa with Coons Crossing in the town of Halfmoon, winding through the towns of Ballston, Malta, and Clifton Park and Round Lake Village.
This segment of trail running between East Line Road in Malta and Goldfoot Road in Round Lake has undergone several improvements, including regrading and paving to a 10-foot width. This segment can be accessed at the Shenentaha Park, at Ruhle Road or on the north side of the village of Round Lake.
In September 2002, the project got a financial boost to complete the trail from Ballston Spa to Coons Crossing in Halfmoon. Improvements included cutting and clearing brush that was choking the trail. Engineers are working on a plan to extend the existing 2.5 miles of paved trail that the town of Malta paved in two phases over the past five years.
Still a work in progress, the project is the brainchild of activists from the Saratoga County Heritage Trail Committee, a group that has now been folded into Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (PLAN).
This is an alternate form of transportation, a link running eight miles between the towns, said Art Johnson, town of Wilton supervisor. `There will be a parallel trail; one path for walking, driving and biking, and a second unimproved path for activities like snowmobiling.`
Organizers refer to the segment as the `backbone` of the Saratoga County trail system today.
`This is the central piece of the regional trail,` said Julia Stokes of Saratoga PLAN, before a small crowd grouped near the Round Lake end of the trail. `We needed this right of way to continue.`
Stokes encouraged officials from various northern Saratoga County communities, including Greenfield, Wilton and Moreau, to work on running the trail into their municipalities. Stokes said she would also like to see the trail link to Luther Forest in Malta into Stillwater and up to Northumberland.
`This could be countywide and all off-road pedestrian and bicycle trails if we all work together,` said Stokes.
The trail is named for Zimri Smith, a retired Air Force pilot who settled in Saratoga County and became actively involved in preserving recreational space. Smith died in 1994.
`He always looked for low-altitude sports like bicycling,` said his widow, Libby Smith Holmes. `I was also actively involved in open space projects; he would be proud to see this happening today.`
Saratoga PLAN has also been a leader in creating the Bog Meadow Trail, the Kayaderosseras Creek Canoe and Kayak Trail, Railroad Run, Saratoga National Golf Club Trail and the Spring Run Trail.“