GREAT BARRINGTON >> It took a little time, but one woman's efforts to build a new community hiking trail have paid off.
"It took about three-and-a-half years to get the trail up and running," said Mary Feuer.
Feuer is the Community Health Program's assistant director of family services and the main driver of the push to get the trail built.
The new trail begins at the north end of the health organization's parking lot and loops to the east toward Three Mile Hill Trail, which ascends the hillside on the east of Stockbridge Road, then dives back down to Berkshire South Community Center about a mile south of Community Health Programs.
The new trail will loop around the fields behind the health center and reconnect to the south end of the property. It's a gentle loop that trail builders described as easy enough for children and adults, alike.
The land the trail crosses belongs to the health organization, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Berkshire Natural Resources Council.
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but refused to take much of the credit for the project — that, he said, was all Feuer's.
"Mary came to me with an idea for a trail to allow safe passage down Route 7 for patients and the public," he said. "All I did was bring a few people together."
Feuer received a plaque from Lia Spiliotes, CEO of Community Health Programs thanking her for her work. Spiliotes said that without Feuer's tireless efforts, the trail might never have been built.
The trail is good for the health of the patients and community, she said. "It's always good to walk."
The trail was built by the local youth organization Greenagers, whose members worked on the trail from concept to completion, said organization founder and Director Will Conklin.
"All told, probably 25 kids worked on the trail," Conklin said. "It was a great collaborative effort with the DCR."
Department of Conservation and Recreation's Regional Forest and Park Coordinator Adam Morris said that he was pleasantly surprised how well all three property owners worked together.
"This worked out better than I could have imagined," he said. "This project was a no-brainer."
Pignatelli told The Eagle that the trail will fit into a network of countywide trails that the Berkshire Natural Resources Council has proposed. That network would integrate and connect trails across the county.
That connectivity is part of the next step in building the trail, Feuer said.
She said that there is still a need to connect Three Mile Hill trail on the north side of Berkshire South now, she said, because as it stands the trail network requires cars parked at each end to avoid walking down busy Route 7.
Phil Morrison, the health organization's chief financial officer, told The Eagle that the town already has a right of way that could conceivably work for closing the loop.
The old Route 7 runs parallel to the road now, he said, and the town's sewer line runs underneath it. That land could be used for the connector loop.
"Then we can get the strollers off the road," he said.