Orchard proprietors Al and Nancy Rose signed a 10-year trail easement along with Curley and NQTA treasurer Lynne Goodnow.
State Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) and State Rep. Susannah Whipps Lee (R-Athol) participated in the ceremony, along with Phillipston Conservation Commissioner Bonnie House.
The new Red Apple Trail System - more than 16 miles with trails heading out from the orchard on both sides of Highland Avenue - was made possible by the signing of 10-year trail easement by the landowners, state authorization and conservation land preserved by town of Phillipston and the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. It will eventually be linked to Curley's vision of a Quabbin-to-Monadnock trail system to include 15 overnight shelters that could bring "through hikers" into the region.
There were more than 60 people attending the event Saturday, including a Cub Scout troop based in Templeton. Groups of 20 went on the trail following the apple-cutting. The hikers saw Canada geese, beavers, great blue herons and spring wildflowers such as lady slippers, jack-in-the-pulpit and trillium.
The trail includes the scenic wetland and a section characterized by large boulders called glacial erratics. Maps prepared by NQTA were available for sale. More information is available at nqta.org.