“We couldn’t do this without our members and volunteers.”
- Mark Mainieri, Land Steward
The best hiking trails seem grown from the earth itself. They guide visitors alongside streams and atop rocky ledges, emphasizing a vista here, suggesting a detour there.
At the Conservancy’s Katharine Ordway and Devil’s Den preserves in Weston, the keeper of those trails is Land Steward Mark Mainieri.
“I love being out here every day, making it better and easier for people to experience nature,” says Mark. “We couldn’t do this without our members and volunteers.”
Summer is a busy season for both new projects and maintenance tasks, such as repainting trail blazes. This year, one project in particular is generating excitement among local hikers.
“We’re re-opening about two miles of historic trails at Katharine Ordway Preserve,” says Mark. “Katharine Ordway is a great walking preserve—it’s more level than Devil’s Den, which makes it perfect for beginning hikers.”
One of the trails is Kay’s Trail, said to have been Katharine Ordway’s favorite and the location of a stone memorial in her honor. This path skirts an escarpment above the Saugatuck River, a ledge formation Mark describes as “pretty unique” to the area.
The preserve’s three-acre historic arboretum also is seeing new life, thanks to an intensive cleanup effort led by local volunteers.
At Devil’s Den, improvements include digging erosion-prevention “waterbars,” trimming fast-growing mountain laurel and repairing a storm-damaged bridge.
The reward for all that work? For Mark, it’s showing off his favorite lands and waters.
“My favorite trail is the Saugatuck Trail at Devil’s Den, but you can’t go wrong with Godfrey Pond or Ambler Gorge, either,” he says. “Just remember to bring a map!”