Mapping the Trails of St. Lawrence

Liz Miller ’17

Oftentimes the paths that connect us are ones that we don’t appreciate enough.

The St. Lawrence Geographic Information System, or GIS, program, along with accompanying University departments are working to develop, maintain and observe these trails so that St. Lawrence and eventually the entire Canton community can enjoy them.

What got the project going was the interest and donation of Tom Saddlemire ’70, an alumnus interested in outdoor activity, especially mountain biking. His gift creating the Saddlemire Trail led to the assembly of a tripartite committee dedicated to further developing and maintaining this and other trails as part of The Campus Trails project.

“We’d like these trails to be accessible and known by campus, for running, walking, biking, or whatever gets people outside—ultimately to show that we have this great land as a resource right in our backyard,” says Dakota Casserly, a GIS/GPS technician at St. Lawrence.

The Campus Trails project plans, manages and monitors the trail-use throughout campus. Professors and students assisting with this project at St. Lawrence have worked to preserve and examine the trails that run throughout our community. The team is also working in conjunction with the Village of Canton to be included in a larger trail map of the entire surrounding area. For now, their focus is on evolving, improving and identifying the trails on campus.

Halley Choy ’17, one of the students who has helped with this project, worked with Peter Pettengill, assistant professor of environmental studies this past summer. She and Pettengill measured the trails using ARC GIS software, in order to see if the trails are being used, overused, and maintained, to determine which trails need what for improvement.

“I really like to run and travel new trails and find places that are untouched, but easy to access,” Halley says, “so I love getting to explore these paths and learn more about them.”

Those who have been developing and connecting these trails are already seeing the results of their labor. “Anytime I’m out on the trail, I see people out there,” Head Nordic Coach Ethan Townsend says. “When you think about our location and what we have here, we’re not a big-city school, but one of the appeals should be our accessibility of getting out in the woods.”