‘Karl Quackenbush Trail’ in Warwick named in honor of late local outdoorsman

  • The late Karl Quackenbush and Nancy Harnden of Warwick pictured on Mount Tecumseh in New Hampshire in summer 2019. Warwick is renaming the Hockanum Hill overlook trail in Quackenbush’s honor. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The late Karl Quackenbush and Nancy Harnden of Warwick after hiking to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Warwick is renaming the Hockanum Hill overlook trail in Quackenbush’s honor. Contributed Photo

  • Nancy Harnden and the late Karl Quackenbush of Warwick during a hike in the Green Mountains in Vermont. Warwick is renaming the Hockanum Hill overlook trail in Quackenbush’s honor. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2021 1:13:04 PM
Modified: 5/16/2021 1:13:02 PM

WARWICK — The Hockanum Hill overlook trail is being renamed in honor of the late Karl Quackenbush, an outdoor enthusiast, member of the Planning Board and founding member of the Warwick Lands Trails Study Group.

Bradley Compton, a Warwick Lands Trails Study Group member, spoke about Quackenbush during a meeting with the Selectboard earlier this week, during which the board voted unanimously in favor of renaming the trail. Compton said the Conservation Committee had already voted unanimously in support of calling it the “Karl Quackenbush Trail.”

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” Nancy Harnden, Quackenbush’s second wife and widow, said of the trail naming. “He was a really big outdoor guy. You know, people can name a hall after someone, or some room or something, but this is about the nicest gesture I can possibly think of for the town to do for him.”

Harnden said Quackenbush died unexpectedly at home on Feb. 15. Born in Syracuse, N.Y., on Feb. 14, 1955, Quackenbush earned his bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State University and a master’s degree from Harvard University. He worked as an urban transportation planner with the Central Transportation Planning Staff in Boston for 35 years, serving a number of years as director, before retiring and moving to Warwick in 2019.

“He had a lot of experience with things like planning, so when he came here he volunteered to become a member of the Planning Board, and my understanding is he was a valuable member of that board,” Harnden said, speaking over the phone while taking a break from gardening.

Harnden and Quackenbush married on June 27, 2004, with Quackenbush having previously been married to Elizabeth Seinberg. Harnden and Quackenbush bought their property in Warwick in 2018, and moved in the following summer after they retired and completed renovations.

“We feel like we’ve made a lot of good friends in town,” Harnden said. “For small towns, there’s actually a lot going on. … This town just seems to have a vibrant community involved in all kinds of things.”

The couple enjoyed outdoor activities together, including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and working on their farm and organic garden.

“We were pretty much always outdoors,” Harnden said.

Following Quackenbush’s death, Harnden joined the Warwick Lands Trails Study Group. Clare Green, a fellow member of the group, first proposed naming the Hockanum Hill overlook trail in Quackenbush’s honor during an April 12 Selectboard meeting.

“He put a lot of time, energy and enthusiasm into that trail when it was first developed,” Green said. “A lot of people have used it since we did that this winter.”

Parking for the Hockanum Hill Conservation Area is off Hockanum Hill Road. The trail features an overlook point where hikers can see rolling hills to the south and east. The uphill climb is gradual, making it a moderate trail that is accessible to many.

During a meeting last September, where the Selectboard approved funding to clear the overlook area, Conservation Commission member Greg Brodski said the location is especially dramatic amid bright fall foliage and when winter-bare trees allow a view down to Wheeler Pond.

Compton and Harnden said there are plans for a dedication ceremony on Saturday, June 12, at 4 p.m., along with a socially distant hike. Tom Ziniti, another Warwick Lands Trails Study Group member, will make a sign for the now officially named “Karl Quackenbush Trail.”

During the April 27 meeting, Selectboard member Todd Dexter said a resident had raised concern the trail crossed into their private, abutting property and the topic was delayed for further review. This week, Selectboard members and Compton said a review of the land and site maps determined the trail did not cross into the abutting property.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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