Our Stories

2023 Volunteer Awards: Trail Blazer

Categories: Volunteer Stories


Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority

Cash and Gayenell with the Kalkaska Downtown Development Authority (DDA) began working with the NCTA Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter in Michigan over five years ago to create a non-motorized, ADA accessible trailhead to connect downtown Kalkaska to rerouted NCNST. This project, which is still in progress, will remove two miles of roadwalk. The DDA has secured almost $500,000 from multiple grants and has worked with an engineering firm on plans. They are securing bids and aim to begin construction in 2023. They often support the Chapter with community events, including providing food and busing for the large number of hikers. Gayenell also generously volunteered her time to the planning of the 2019 NCTA Celebration, held in Northern Michigan. The DDA’s support of the NCNST is why Kalkaska is such a great NCTA Trail Town!

SPAX Engineered Fasteners

For the past three years, SPAX has partnered with the Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) and has donated over 35,000 engineered fasteners, saving the BTA nearly $20,000 in materials. From decking screws to PowerLags, SPAX products have been used all over Ohio on the NCNST / Buckeye Trail, securing structures including box steps, boardwalks, kiosks, and bridges.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

Alongside managing a large grocery store chain, Wegmans facilitates community outreach programs. Their Hit the Trail Passport program encourages hiking and trail exploration in the seven states their stores operate in – including two NCNST states, New York and Pennsylvania. For the past 15 years, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) has partnered with Wegmans to create 36 passport hikes along the 1,000-mile Finger Lakes Trail system. Twenty-two of these passport hikes are on the NCNST. Wegmans donates embossed plates for rubbing stations, and provides funds to the FLTC to print passport booklets. Hikers can send their completed rubbings to the FLTC to receive a patch. Co-marketing of this program has been beneficial for Wegmans, the FLTC, and the NCTA.

Learn more about how the you can honor NCTA volunteers for their service on and for the North Country National Scenic Trail, and submit a nomination at northcountrytrail.org/volunteer-awards.