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Lost in the Great North Woods

August 22, 2013

The Rey Center will host the third lecture of their summer lecture series, “Lost in the Great North Woods” by Kim Nilsen on Friday, Aug. 30 from 8-9 p.m. in Waterville Valley.

Nilsen is the founder of the Cohos Trail – a 162 mile trail that runs from Crawford Notch to the Canadian border in Pittsburg, NH…and connecting with the Sentier Frontalier’s trail to Mount Megantic or Mount Gosford in Quebec, Canada … the only international trail in New Hampshire.  During the Rey Center lecture program, Nilsen will share reasons “why one shouldn’t build a long distance trail in the middle of nowhere” and other humorous stories.

Admission is FREE for Rey Center members, and just $5 per person for not-yet-members.  The Rey Center is located on the second level of Waterville Valley’s Town Square.

Kim Nilsen

Kim Nilsen

About Kim Nilsen

(Excerpted from a Boston Globe article on October 2011, “The Path Less Traveled)

In 1978, a young newspaper reporter in northernmost New Hampshire wrote an editorial calling for the creation of a grand hiking trail spanning the length of Coos County, from the White Mountains in the south to the Canadian border. The young man, Kim Nilsen, dreamed of opening this remote part of New England, dense with natural wonders but scant on people, to new eyes.

His plan was bold. It was sweeping. And it elicited absolutely no response.  So he set out to build it himself. Two weeks ago (2011), under a misty fall sky just a few miles from the Quebec border, Nilsen, now 63, finished his 162-mile trail. It had only taken 33 years.

As the last maple sapling was cut, Nilsen produced a bottle of champagne and addressed the small group of volunteers who had come out to help clear the final mile of what he has named the Cohos Trail.

“This is cheap champagne for a cheap organization,’’ Nilsen said with a big smile as a blast of bubbly splattered onto the autumn leaves around him.

And with that, his “ridiculous, foolish’’ idea had finally come to fruition, though it is much more than a personal accomplishment. The Cohos Trail is the largest trail system to be built in the northeast in generations, and it becomes the third long-distance trail in New England, alongside the Appalachian Trail and Vermont’s Long Trail.

nilsen kim book

For more information on Rey Center programming or becoming a member visit or email at The “Trails and Tales From the Wilderness” lecture series is generously sponsored by Wayne and Barbara Thornbrough.

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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