FARMINGTON — A free, interactive, mapping site on the Internet featuring information about 15 nonmotorized-use trails in greater Franklin County went online Friday.
By the end of summer, 30 more trails in the area will be added and the goal is to continue to add trails from each Maine county in the future.
“We’ll be adding a trail or two a week to get to 30 trails in greater Franklin County,” said Stephen Engle, director of Center for Community GIS in downtown Farmington. They are hoping to add additional trails in the area as well.
“The next steps are to develop partnerships and funding to be able to integrate trails statewide,” he said. “Our overarching goal is to better connect people to trails.”
Maine Trail Finder is an online trail portal that will allow residents and visitors to find the right trail for the adventure they seek, Engle said.
From a short, easy afternoon hike at the North Jay White Granite Park to a moderate hike up Blueberry Mountain in Weld, people can find a trail that interests them. Currently, the network covers a partial listing of trails for hiking, walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and mountain-biking.
The site www.mainetrailfinder.com is administered by the center and was unveiled in its office. The center partnered with the Healthy Community Coalition for the project and received a grant from the Environmental Funders Network in 2009 to make it possible. Other partners that recently came on board are the Maine Department of Conservation and Maine Office of Tourism to help expand the trail content.
The first 15 trails reach from Livermore Falls to Carrabassett Valley and Rangeley. The easy-to-use site provides the type and length of each trail, the degree of difficulty, type of terrain, among other details.
Though the site is free to use, Engle said he encourages people to sign up for an account. That allows users to go in and post comments about the trails, pictures or even find conditions about trails.