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Our archive of more in-depth news articles and reports (running back to the 1990’s) can be found here. You can also search for past articles using the search function in the left hand side column

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Latest News

Our 2022 Annual Appeal is under way – please consider a donation

Our Annual Appeal for 2022 is under way.  Please consider a donation.

First and foremost, THANK YOU, for your support on the Eastern Trail in 2022. We are fortunate to have an incredible amount of support from so many. Whether you volunteered at an event or on the trail or you provided a monetary donation, the Eastern Trail continues to provide a safe and fun outdoor recreational trail and alternative transportation corridor for thousands of people because of you.

We greatly appreciate the support that so many of you give on a regular basis to make the Eastern Trail what it is. Without your help, the Eastern Trail would not be here for thousands to enjoy. 2023 promises to be a big year for the Eastern Trail—including major progress on new sections of the trail.

Jon Kachmar, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance, stands on a culvert at West Brook that runs under the next phase of the off-road trail expansion.
Latest News

Work on the Eastern Trail could expand rapidly in the coming decade

It’s been 10 years since southern Maine’s signature off-road trail has expanded. But work in the next decade could connect existing trails and extend the Eastern Trail to North Berwick.

BY DEIRDRE FLEMING, STAFF WRITER | MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM | NOVEMBER 13, 2022

Jon Kachmar is working on the ultimate conservation juggling act: Getting three significant new sections built on the Eastern Trail in southern Maine.

Expansion of the trail – envisioned as a 50-mile, off-road trail upon completion – has stalled in the past decade, but Kachmar believes the Eastern Trail Alliance has a shot at completing another 15.7 miles of the trail in the next 10 years. That would extend it to 37 miles, and connect three different existing sections.

“There will definitely be momentum moving forward,” said Kachmar, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “There’s no doubt about it. It is a unique time. Right now there is an unprecedented amount of federal money for infrastructure for things that will benefit the public. We fit a lot of those qualifications for that money. I’m pretty optimistic.”

The Eastern Trail is the southern Maine section of the proposed 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway envisioned to link Key West, Florida, to Calais via off-road trails. In the past 20 years, 20.9 miles of the trail have been built in Maine across three sections from South Portland to West Kennebunk.

Read the entire article online here.

Latest News

Blaze Orange – Be Safe on The Trail

CFall is here and with it comes hunting in Maine – Please be aware that hunting is permitted in Maine on many private and public lands — some in close proximity to the Eastern Trail and other local trails.

The discharge of firearms, bows or any other devices that launch a projectile is prohibited on the Trail, except in Scarborough Marsh where hunting is allowed according to the rules for the Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management area managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W).

During the weeks ahead, please take proper precaution by wearing blaze orange clothing and putting a blaze orange vest on your pet. Also, we suggest you wear a blaze orange hat as well and NOT use a white hat or white bike helmet.

Hunting season in Maine runs primarily from early September to mid-December. Deer season with firearms runs from October 31 to December 10 this year.

Here are two other websites with more information on hunting in Maine:

Maine 2022-23 Hunting Season Dates
Maine Hunting Laws and Rules 2022-2023

 

Latest News

The Eastern Trail Now Has a Twitter Account

The Eastern Trail recently created a Twitter account.

Our official Twitter “Handle” is @EasternTrail.

Include hashtags to link your tweet to a larger conversation. Hashtags related to the Eastern Trail are limitless. Use #easterntrail, and maybe some others such as #trailmoments, #biking, #outside, #southernmaine, #closethegap.

View the Eastern Trail Twitter account.

So go to your Twitter account and follow us, and add to the conversation by sharing your experiences, pictures, thoughts, ideas, appreciation, and love of the Eastern Trail.

 

Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Latest News

Maine’s Eastern Trail Earns National Recognition

PORTLAND (WGME) – Maine’s Eastern Trail system is getting some national recognition.

Friday, Rails to Trails Conservancy, the nation’s largest trail advocacy organization, welcomed Maine’s Eastern Trail into the “Rail Trail Hall of Fame.”

According to an economic impact study, the trail brings more than $44 million into Maine’s economy each year and employs more than 300 people around the state.

“This is something that people can use to commute to work on, to run errands on and to have an option to be mobile without having to rely on a car or to put themselves out on one of our busy streets on a bicycle,” James Tasse of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine said.

The Eastern Trail is more than 65 miles long, running from Kittery to South Portland, and 16 additional miles are under construction.

You can read the story with video online here.

You can view related news coverage of the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony:

 

Eastern Trail in South Portland
Latest News

Maine’s Eastern Trail joins Rail-Trail Hall of Fame

It’s one of 36 Hall of Fame Trails across the country, and one of only four in New England.

By Diane Bair and Pamela Wright  | Globe Correspondent | Updated September 7, 2022, 10:06 a.m.

An hour ago, we were battling the crazy traffic on Route 1 and the crowds in Kennebunkport, Maine. And now? Now we’re paused on the Eastern Trail overlooking beautiful Scarborough Marsh. It’s low tide, and we watch as egrets feed in the narrow channels that snake through the expansive salt marsh, and shorebirds gather in shallow pools. It’s quiet, peaceful, and worlds away from the bustle.

Such is the beauty of Maine’s Eastern Trail, a 65-mile Rails-to-Trails on- and off-road route in southern Maine, running from South Portland to Kittery. Recently, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy inducted the Eastern Trail into its Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, recognizing its scenic, historic, and community value. It’s one of 36 Hall of Fame Trails across the country, and one of only four in New England. The other New England Hall of Famers are the Island Line Rail Trail in Vermont, the East Bay Bicycle Path in Rhode Island, and the Minuteman Commuter Bikeway in Massachusetts.

“The Eastern Trail is one of the premier recreational assets in the region and provides a valuable alternative for those seeking more active recreation,” says Paul Schumacher, executive director of the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission.

The Eastern Trail, following portions of the rail route built by the Eastern Railroad in the 1840s to connect Boston to Portland, is also part of two multistate trail systems: the developing 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway, connecting trails along the Eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida, and the New England Rail-Trail Network, linking Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

“We call it the great connector,” says Claire Polfus with Maine Trail Finder. “It connects neighborhoods, communities, and trail systems.”

And interest in the trail has skyrocketed. “Since the pandemic began, the Eastern Trail page on Maine Trail Finder has surged into the top 10 most viewed on the site, an indicator of how important close-to-home trails have become,” Polfus says.

“The Eastern Trail is quintessential Maine, and one of the most beautiful sections of the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway,” says Kristine Keeney, Northern New England manager with the East Coast Greenway Alliance. “The combination of the beautiful salt marsh, birds, and the smell of the saltwater is special.”

The 24-mile northern section from Kennebunk to South Portland is the most popular portion of the trail because most of it is off-road; it drew nearly 250,000 bike and pedestrian users in 2021. The 41-mile southern portion is on public roads with trail signs directing the way.

We like to start in Kennebunk, biking the trail south to north. First up is a section through pretty Arundel, passing farms and open fields. “It’s my favorite part of the trail,” says Schumacher. “This rural setting is getting increasingly hard to find along the southern coast of Maine.”

It’s a great beginning, a quiet stretch of woodsy path before heading into Biddeford. In Biddeford, the trail goes on road, with a few off-road sections. Though we’ve only been riding a short while, we’ll often pedal into downtown Biddeford to grab doughnuts or butter cookies from Reilly’s Bakery. Properly fueled, we’ll pedal out to Scarborough Marsh, one of the most scenic spots on the Eastern Trail. This off-road section overlooks the 3,000-acre protected estuary, the largest in Maine. This is a great place to linger, watching for shorebirds, and taking in the views. “The Scarborough Marsh is just one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been on a bike,” says Keeney.

Unfortunately, it’s back on the road from Scarborough into South Portland. But work is currently underway to remedy this; the Close the Gap project would fill in a 1.6-mile section with off-road trail that would connect Scarborough with South Portland. It’s one of several campaigns to improve the Eastern Trail, others include the Over the River campaign, focusing on 3 miles through downtown Biddeford and Saco; the Blaze the Trail South campaign concentrating on the 17 miles of current on-road trail between Kennebunk and South Berwick, and the Berwicks to the Border campaign, focusing on the 11-mile section from South Berwick to the New Hampshire border.

For now, we’re content to pedal Highland Avenue into South Portland, where the trail goes off-road again near the Wainwright Athletic Complex. We love the water views, crossing over Fore River, with views of Casco Bay Bridge. The northern terminus of Eastern Trail ends at a beautiful, 8.78-acre waterfront park, a popular picnic and kite-flying spot. It’s also home to Bug Light, an 1875 lighthouse nicknamed for its small size. We’ve biked about 30 miles at this point and in our best-case scenarios, we’ve coaxed friends to come pick us up with the promise of burgers and beers in Portland.

Read the entire article on-line here.

MLR Ride Start 2022
Latest News

Cyclists take the scenic route during the Maine Lighthouse Ride

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Hundreds of cyclists hit the Eastern Trail for the Maine Lighthouse Ride on Saturday. Bikers gathered at Spring Point Ledge Light on the Southern Maine Community College campus and left in groups throughout the morning.

Participants biked between 25 to 100 miles and passed seven to nine lighthouses, depending on the distance of their ride.

The Eastern Trail is made up of more than 65 miles of scenic trail that runs between South Portland and Kittery. It’s accessible all year round for running, walking, biking, snowshoeing and other sports. It’s part of the U.S. Interstate 1 trail that runs down the East Coast.

For cyclists, bike trails provide a safe and enjoyable place to ride.

“Road cycling can feel really scary and dangerous,” said Carolyn Tiernan. “Having dedicated rail trails, you know, whatever it is, that are for bikes and pedestrians only — you just feel so much safer, they’re usually beautiful rides.”

The Maine Lighthouse Ride is the biggest fundraiser for the Eastern Trail Alliance. The funds raised from the ride are used to preserve, maintain and expand the trail.

WMTW is a proud sponsor of that event.

Read full article and watch video here.

Eastern Trail bridge over the Maine Turnpike.
Latest News

Eastern Trail brings national kudos, and growing dollars, to southern Maine

By William Hall | Published in MaineBiz August 24, 2022

The Eastern Trail — a greenway that ultimately will run 65 miles between Kittery and South Portland — is steadily bolstering Maine’s outdoor recreation economy. And now a national conservation group has honored the trail for the path it’s blazed.

The ET was inducted this month into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, a group of only 35 other former railroad corridors across the U.S. honored for the economic, social and quality-of-life value they now bring as recreational space.

The Hall of Famers are selected by an annual, nationwide public vote through the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit trails advocate with over 1 million members. This year’s vote, from July 22 to Aug. 2, was a face-off among the Eastern Trail, Alaska’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Grant’s Trail in Missouri.

“Maine’s Eastern Trail is an example of the type of walking and biking infrastructure that can serve as a tourism destination and a mobility hub for the region,” said Ryan Chao, the conservancy’s president, in a news release.

“This trail is an inspiration. It demonstrates how a long-distance trail can serve as the foundation for a regional trail network that connects people and places, providing safe and accessible transportation options, economic opportunity and a boon for everyone’s quality of life.”

Previous Hall of Fame inductees include the High Line in New York City, one of Manhattan’s most popular recreational spaces and tourist attractions, which has been credited with spurring a wave of new development in the West Chelsea neighborhood over the past decade.

The Eastern Trail is New England’s fourth trail to make the Hall of Fame, after honorees in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

A consultant’s study last November for the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission showed the Eastern Trail generated $44.6 million in annual economic benefits and supported 364 jobs across the state. It’s also estimated that roughly 250,000 people, from Maine and beyond, use the trail annually, and each user spends an average of $118 per day.

More than 24 miles of the Eastern Trail are already complete, with another 16 under construction. Once those portions are complete, the trail is expected to generate an additional $5.9 million in annual earnings and sales.

The Eastern Trail is being built along the corridor of the former Eastern Railroad, the first rail line to connect Boston to Portland, operating from 1842 until 1945. A group of volunteers has been advocating for the trail’s development since 1998.

You can read the entire article online here.

Rail-Trail Hall of Fame 2022 Inductee
Latest News

Eastern Trail Named to National Rail-Trail Hall of Fame!

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the nation’s largest trails organization, has announced that Maine’s Eastern Trail would join its Rail-Trail Hall of Fame—an exemplary group of rail-trails nationwide celebrated for the social, economic and quality-of-life value they bring to the communities they serve.

“The Eastern Trail is an increasingly special place in southern coastal Maine,” said Eric Wright, Eastern Trail Alliance’s president. “Since the trail’s inception over 20 years ago, it captures Maine’s maritime history, the state’s largest salt marsh conservation area and the miles of tree-lined suburban and rural landscapes along the former Eastern Railroad connecting Boston to Maine. And we are not done yet, as we work on significant trail-building initiatives to extend the Eastern Trail to the New Hampshire border.”

The developing 65-mile trail, which welcomes 250,000 people each year along Southern Maine’s coastline and dense forests, is critical to two developing interstate trail networks: the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway that will connect trails from Maine to Florida and the New England Rail-Trail Network, which aims to unite the region’s six states—Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut—by multiuse trail. Running from South Portland to the New Hampshire border, more than 24 miles of the Eastern Trail are complete. Sixteen additional miles are under construction, 11 miles of which are being advanced with the support of $700,000 in federal funding received in May 2022.

“Maine’s Eastern Trail is an example of the type of walking and biking infrastructure that can serve as a tourism destination and a mobility hub for the region,” said Ryan Chao, RTC’s president. “The completion of this trail is being accelerated with the support of federal, state, local and private funding, positioning it as more than a destination. This trail is an inspiration. It demonstrates how a long-distance trail can serve as the foundation for a regional trail network that connects people and places, providing safe and accessible transportation options, economic opportunity and a boon for everyone’s quality of life.”

A recent economic impact study of the Eastern Trail showed that the trail delivers $44.6 million in annual economic benefits and supports 364 jobs across the state. Once the 16 miles of trail under construction are completed, the trail is projected to bring an additional $5.9 million in earnings and sales.

“We are beyond excited for the Eastern Trail’s well-earned RTC Hall of Fame induction”, said Jean Sideris, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. “The Eastern Trail is the epitome of what an outstanding trail should look like—something that links communities together, is accessible for riders of all abilities, suitable for various types of bikes, and packed with picture-perfect scenery that highlights some of the best parts of our beautiful state. Congratulations to the Eastern Trail and our friends at the Eastern Trail Alliance!”