How a grant to improve a scenic byway in NH will help connect the entire town

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT
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ENFIELD, N.H. (WCAX) - Route 4A in Enfield, New Hampshire, is a scenic byway, but when it comes to pedestrian traffic, it’s not exactly safe. However, thanks to a national grant, that will soon change.

With narrow shoulders and cars traveling at high speeds, Route 4A along Mascoma Lake is no picnic for bike riders and pedestrians.

“We walk out there all the time and you always feel like you are taking your life in your hands,” said Caroline Lovejoy of Enfield.

But safety improvements to the stretch of road are coming. The town has been awarded a grant for nearly three-quarters of a million dollars from the National Scenic Byways Program.

“We thought it would be great to build this trail all along the side of the byway where people can enjoy the lake,” Enfield Town Manager Ed Morris said.

The trail will extend from the Mascoma Lake boat launch parking lot a mile down Route 4A to the La Salette Shrine and the Enfield Shaker Museum.

“We saw the safety aspect but we also saw it connecting the Enfield Shaker Village to the downtown village,” Morris said.

A short walk over the bridge from the boat launch and you are at the Lakeside Park, which connects to the Northern Rail Trail and downtown Enfield.

“We are thrilled of course because anything that brings people down this way is something that we are happy with,” said Carolyn Smith, the acting director of the Enfield Shaker Museum.

The museum celebrates the Shaker community that settled here in the late 1700s.

Across the street from the museum-- about 5,000 acres of public conservation land.

“The fact that people can walk down to the beach and cross the bridge and go to the new lakeside park, all good stuff for Enfield and for the museum,” Smith said.

On paper, the grant project is simply a mile-long hiking trail with lights and signage. But in reality, it’s a small piece of a much large puzzle connecting the entire community.

“People love being outside on the lake in the summer and in the winter in the woods, everywhere. So now it connects it all,” Lovejoy said.

When the grant will be administered and the timeline for construction are still being determined. However, the planning stages are underway.