For 25 years, the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association (WHPA) has worked to create the Windmill Hill Nature Reserve, for both people and wildlife. The original goal was to protect access to Pinnacle peak in memory of Jamie Charles Latham of Westminster. In 1997 WHPA achieved this vision when they protected the Pinnacle property with the Vermont Land Trust—but the organization’s leaders and members did not stop there.

In the following two decades, WHPA has worked with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board to ensure public access to a 24-mile trail system that spans the scenic ridgeline connecting with Putney Mountain to the south, and Athens Dome and Creature Rock trails to the northwest. Nearly all of the reserve is conserved with the Vermont Land Trust and VHCB; now it encompasses 1,934 acres in Athens, Brookline, Grafton, Putney, Rockingham, and Westminster.

This year the reserve grew by 70 acres. This new land was originally two parcels located on the town lines of Athens, Rockingham and Westminster. WHPA bought the first, the Bemis parcel, in 2014; this year, the group purchased the other parcel from the Brelsford family. About a mile of the Bemis Hill Trail (which connects to the ridgeline trails) runs along the southern and western boundaries.

The newly protected land is also home to the historic Hazen Farm homestead site (circa 1870). The old farmhouse foundation and stone walls of a garden or animal pen sit next to a waterfall, which appears to have had a bridge and a dam.

Looking to the future, James (Silos) Roberts of WHPA says the organization will “continue to provide and enhance public access opportunities to WHPA lands.” We look forward to continuing this partnership to protect more forestland and trails around the ridgeline.

Funded by VHCB. (June 2017)

Below: Libby Mills of WHPA (right) thanks Victoria Brelsford (left) for selling her land to expand the nature reserve.