ORLAND — A mix of volunteers, paid trail crew and professional machine operators has begun construction of Hancock County’s first significant mountain bike trail, the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust announced recently.
The Capstone Trail is part of an eventual 3.6-mile trail that will climb Great Pond Mountain in the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust’s 4,500-acre Wildlands, said the trust’s Executive Director Landon Fake.
The Penobscot Region of the New England Mountain Bike Association has been collaborating with the Orland land trust for two years on trail development and this spring secured more than $20,000 in funding.
Funds come from the mountain bike association as well as from Maine Community Foundation’s Hancock County Fund as well as a private gift.
Fake said the trail name references a capstone project that several University of Maine civil engineering students completed in 2016 in the form of a design and proposal to the land trust for a trail network.
“We dug up that 121-page report and decided to use it for our conceptual trail system,” said Craig MacDonald, president of the mountain bike association.
Avery Mornis and Lucas Wardwell, two of the proposal’s authors, heard about association’s project and decided to help, Fake said.
Wardwell, whose family lives in Orland, did much of the first layout and hand work and Mornis, who works for a trail construction company in Vermont, agreed to get time off to run an excavator on the project for a couple of weeks.
Fake said the collaboration is important to both organizations: the mountain bike association riders are looking for more sustainable, high-quality trails to build and ride.
Meanwhile, the land trust wants to attract a new constituency to support the Wildlands and land conservation in general, Fake said.
“With every new improvement to the Wildlands trail system there is a spillover effect for the surrounding businesses,” said Leslie Wombacher, executive director of the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “Adding bike trails will not only benefit the health of the people who live in our area, it will also provide added revenue to the local economy.”
Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, a nonprofit land trust, owns and manages the 4,500-acre Wildlands in East Orland.
The Wildlands is managed for wildlife habitat, sustainable forestry and recreation. It is open to the public for hiking, biking, snowmobiling, horseback riding as well as hunting, fishing and trapping. For more information, visit www.greatpondtrust.org.