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EDITORIAL: A salute to the trailblazers

Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 4:26 pm

Congratulations to the Sebago to the Sea Trail Coalition, which has finally realized its dream of creating a continuous trail from Sebago Lake to the Atlantic Ocean. Now, we’d like to see the Eastern Trail Alliance, which has made equally great strides in recent years connecting sections of former rail line along the southern coast of Maine, finally create an unbroken link from Kittery to South Portland.

The Sebago to the Sea Trail has been in existence since 2012, thanks to the members of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, which took it upon themselves to work with landowners and the state to carve a trail from Sebago Lake to the ocean. It starts out in the woods of the Sebago Lake Land Reserve, owned by the Portland Water District, and follows the Mountain Division Rail Trail from Standish into Gorham, past the Maine Correctional Facility in Windham and then into Westbrook, where it follows Bridge Street and East Bridge Street until plunging back into the woods along the Presumpscot River. It crosses into Portland near Riverton and then follows the Presumpscot through Riverside Golf Course and into Falmouth near the highway overpass on Blackstrap Road. From there it wends its way, sometimes on streets, sometimes on paths, through residential Portland and finally meets the sea at East End Beach, where “through-hikers” can celebrate with a dip in the ocean.

While envisioned as far back as 2007, when the coalition started meeting, in 2012 the group announced that the final connection of the trail was in place. But the news carried with it a caveat, that the 5-mile section from Gorham into Westbrook had to be completed by boat along the Presumpscot since an overland route was delayed due to construction on a section of rail line. Now that rail bed reconstruction is complete, coalition members are installing signage this spring to direct trail users along the completed rail section where users will be allowed to walk alongside the new tracks. So, about a decade after their vision was born, the overland Sebago to the Sea is a reality, and we think that’s a great thing not only for local hikers and cyclists, but also for further enhancing the reputation of Greater Portland as a haven for outdoor activities. The 28-mile trail is certainly a feather in the cap of the communities it passes through.

We also hope people take advantage of this new trail and have a lot of fun along the way. There are places to swim, eat picnic lunches and, of course, observe nature. Parts of the trail, which follows about 13 miles of the pancake-flat Mountain Division rail line, already get a lot of usage, and we feel this final link in the chain will increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic even more.

Read the full article on-line here.

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