Campus Trails Offer Learning, Recreation and Solace
By Chloe Mitchell ’21
Starting near Hulett and Jencks halls with the Avenue of the Elms, weaving its way through the Oliver D. Appleton Golf Course and alongside the Elsa Gunnison Riding Hall, over elevated boardwalks and through the deep forests next to the Little River, crossing Route 68 heading toward to the Grasse River, and eventually rounding athletic fields to arrive at Newell Field House, St. Lawrence University houses an extensive trail network for the campus and local communities to enjoy year round.
Anna Breton ’19, a computer science major and art and art history minor from Suffern, New York, commented, “Having a trail network directly on campus plays an important role in my day-to-day college experience.”
The approximately 9-mile trail system holds deep historical ties between the campus and community, which alumni, students, faculty and staff as well as local residents revere. “Not many college campuses have direct access to trails that is so connected with different environments including pine forests, open fields, mash and swamp areas and even a river. More should take advantage of this rare opportunity,” Breton said.
With the recent construction of the Saddlemire Trail in 2015, which was funded by Trustee Tomas P. Saddlemire ’70 and Constance Harris Saddlemire ’70, the network provides, as Zach Larkin ’21 of West Sand Lake, New York, put it, “A peaceful escape that can take on any form — a nice run, a scenic stroll, or just a place to get away from the campus life to clear your head.”
Breton said the trails offer a “break” from campus with no real travel needed. She explained, “That is why the trails are so perfect for anyone who wants to get in some distance can. But shorter loops are open for those who like the ‘out and back’ style activity.”
The trails are free and open to just about any use, whether this is walking, running, skiing, biking, horseback riding and camping. “There’s even an awesome lean-to that you can stay at,” Breton said.
With the ever-changing seasons, the trails continue to have multipurpose uses, with many students trading in their running shoes for some skis. Eliza Thomas ’21, a member of the Nordic ski team from South Burlington, Vermont, commented, “During the winter months the ski team is constantly using the trails to train. With different terrains, it’s the perfect way to really test your abilities as a skier.”
Using the trails not only provides exercise opportunities, a break from the busy campus and many photo opportunities of the scenic wilderness of the North Country, the trails can also take on an academic form.
Emlyn Crocker ’16, project manager of Nature Up North housed at the Wachtmeister Field Station at the head of the Kip Trail, had many thoughts on why students should utilize the trails more often. “We should be so grateful for such a beautiful trail system that can connect you with the outdoors.” she said.
Crocker not only uses the trails herself, but also directs and collaborates with classes, including environmental writing, biology, First-Year Program and First-Year Seminar on these trails. “It offers a chance for students to get out of the classroom and explore something that they may have never had the opportunity to do before,” Crocker described.
Students can also take advantage of the new orienteering course, a competitive international sport that combines racing with navigation skills, which Breton actually helped create. The course gives participants the opportunity to explore the campus property and develop basic navigation skills.
“This course is a permanent installment in the Kip Trail and can be enjoyed as a simple walk or race,” Crocker indicated. “The trail systems really draws not only students but also the community members to campus.”
Larkin summarized, “The trails offer so many benefits to a student at St. Lawrence.” he said. “With the ability to connect with nature in the North Country, it’s just another reason that makes SLU such a unique campus.”
Learn more about public trails in the Village of Canton and throughout St. Lawrence County at www.stlctrails.com/trails.