BRIDGTON — A brisk but clear fall morning greeted the 303 enthusiastic cyclists and hikers who enjoyed scenic views as they participated in the 14th annual Loon Echo Trek held on Sept. 20 at Shawnee Peak Ski Area to benefit Loon Echo Land Trust.
“Temperatures were chilly but it did not rain for our trek,” said Executive Director Carrie Walia. “We had light winds and partly sunny skies, and Pleasant Mountain is a fitting backdrop for this event. We currently protect over 2,000 acres of land on Pleasant Mountain, land that hikers are enjoying today. The trek continues to be a great way for people to support land conservation in the Lake Region of Southern Maine.”
Some 236 people cycled in the trek, choosing between the 25, 50, 75 or 100-mile routes through some of Maine’s most beautiful scenery.
Century and 75-mile riders had a challenging ride through Evans Notch with a 1,200 foot vertical descent on fresh pavement. Cyclists raved about the spectacular course and loved riding on all the back roads where the traffic was minimal. They felt the volunteers were helpful and friendly, everything was very organized, and all enjoyed the post-trek barbecue, massages and Allagash, free to all trekkers.
A record breaking 84 hikers participated in either the 4.5 or 6.2 mile hike trek over Pleasant Mountain and Loon Echo’s conservation land. Jon Evans, stewardship manager for Loon Echo, was pleased with the turnout noting that the number of hikers increases each year. Hikers were treated to three rest stops along the way, each stocked with goodies, including the final stop where hikers indulged in whoopie pies on the peak of Shawnee.
A handful of hearty people participated in the inaugural Hike and Bike which had them completing the 4.5 mile hike followed by the 25 mile bike ride. Most of them said they would do it again next year.
A total of $78,260 was raised from the event, including entry fees, pledges raised by participants, and business cash and in-kind sponsorships. Top individual fundraisers were Gary Rogers who raised $1,500, and John Keller who raised $1,105.
Loon Echo Land Trust protects land in the northern Sebago Lake region to conserve its natural resources and character for current and future generations. Currently, Loon Echo protects over 5,900 acres of land and 25 miles of trails open for public use.
The 15th annual Loon Echo Trek is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. For information, visit www.loonechotrek.org or call 207-647-4352.