RUMFORD — A $50,000 grant will extend a mountain bike trail, from Mountain Valley High School to Rumford Water District and town lands.

Volunteers work in 2019 on the mountain bike trail in Rumford. Submitted photo

Inland Woods + Trails , a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Bethel, announced the award from the Federal Highway Recreational Trails Program and the Maine Trails Advisory Committee, a committee of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry.

The grant will allow Inland Woods + Trails to design and construct up to four miles of mountain bike trail in Rumford for its Pennacook Area Community Trails phased extension.

Karen Wilson, an Inland Woods + Trails board member and PACT committee chairperson, said, “With this grant money, we will be able to connect the current trail to Scotties Brook, where we want to build a bench and picnic spot by the river, which is really beautiful.”

She said the trail will offer a route back across the water district fields, so users can complete a loop without having to navigate large hills. This loop will lead back to the high school.

“We also hope the money stretches to complete an uphill route which will allow bikers a fun and flowy downhill after their ascent,” she said. “The amount of trail we build will be directly related to volunteer assistance.”

Additional support was provided by the Poland Spring Community Fund, the town of Rumford and Maine West for up to $68,000 in trail building funds for this phase.

Phase one of the Pennacook Area Community Trails trail project was completed in 2019 and includes six-tenths of a mile of singletrack trail for mountain biking, walking and trail running.

This project could not have been completed without the help of Inland Woods + Trails community partners: RSU 10, Rumford Water District and the town of Rumford, the landowners providing access to the trails.

Rumford Board of Selectmen Chairman  Chris Brennick said, “PACT has greatly enhanced recreation in the River Valley by building a bike trail for both citizens and tourists alike. It is exciting to see the hard work and vision of this group of volunteers pay off. This $50,000 grant will allow them to further extend a trail that has fast become a favorite of bikers in the community.“

“The RTP grant was a last-minute decision to apply for after we realized we had enough matching funds and volunteer time to qualify,” Wilson said.

She said Gabe Perkins put together the grant request in less than two weeks, and it is recommended the grant writing project should take three to four months.

“Gabe is a very talented grant writer, and we are lucky to have him. This was a competitive grant, with over 20 applications. I have heard only six were awarded funding, so we are thrilled to be one of the six!” Wilson said.

Wilson said they plan to start building as soon as the weather allows.

“We will be using volunteers, and many will be local residents, but during our past volunteer workdays, we have had residents of Bethel, Woodstock and even southern Maine come to help,” she said.

Wilson said Inland Woods + Trails has a reputation for building quality recreational trail systems, and the organization has many dedicated volunteers from all over Maine.

“Once the word is put out that a volunteer day is happening, people show up,” she said. “I’ve been approached by many people from Rumford asking how they can help. They are impressed with the 0.6 miles we have constructed and want more.”

She said Inland Woods + Trails builds with a small excavator and paid crew because it’s more durable and requires less maintenance than a hand-built trail. However, every time the paid trail crew has to get off their machine to cut branches and clear the corridor it costs time and money.

The more volunteers can do to prepare the trail corridor and do the small root removal cleanup, the better. The current trail has a beautiful curved bridge that was built by volunteer labor.

To volunteer, people can show up when they can for as long as they can on volunteer days. Inland Woods + Trails has a Facebook page and Instagram presence where people can find out when there are volunteer days.

“There is so much potential to build trails in Rumford, that we could have a trail system that would connect Hosmer Fields to Mountain Valley High School, up to Black Mountain, over behind Marden’s (on Route 2), and possibly to the new hotel at (50 Prospect Ave.),” Wilson said.

She said there is also potential to build trails on the other side of the river off the power line corridor because they have had landowners offer their property for that purpose.

“Rumford is a land-rich town as a municipality, but also the Rumford Water District has a tremendous amount of land, and we have found private landowners are open to allowing trails built on their property,” Wilson said. The current project is on town land and Rumford Water District land, and the 4 miles planned are within their boundaries, she said.

She said the feedback about the trail has been phenomenal.

“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me telling me how much they love the trail, and how much their families enjoy it,” Wilson said. “Kids are on the trail all the time with their bikes, and we have even seen teens walking it with remote control cars.”

She added, “Trail runners have been using the trail religiously and can’t say enough good things. It’s been a real asset to Mountain Valley High School’s physical education program. The Walking for Fitness class uses the trail for their fitness program and the Lifetime Pursuits Class mountain bikes on the trail.

Principal Matt Gilbert has been a strong supporter of the school’s bike programming and is supporting the purchase of more bikes from Barker Mountain Bicycles in Bethel for use next year on the trail system.

Wilson said Barker Mountain Bikes has been part of their commitment to help build the trails, and they are really working hard to get local children on bikes at low cost. Mountain Valley High School has a Jumpstart physical education program for students with special needs. It uses the trail all the time for walking and biking, she said.

Wilson said the current trail also traverses the old ski jumps on Scotties Hill.

“You can still see where the jumps were,” she said.

Dan Warner from the Ski Museum of Maine and the Chisholm Ski Club is looking to raise money to put historical signs out at the old jump locations with information about the history of Scotties Hill as a recreation center for the town before skiing moved up to Black Mountain of Maine, Wilson said.

“Every time I am out on the trail I see kids and adults biking, walking or running, and they are all happy the trail is there.”

The project will go out to bid once an agreement is signed in early spring with construction slated for the summer.

For more information about Inland Woods + Trails and ways to volunteer or support its work, go to www.woodsandtrails.org or call (207) 200-8240.

The mountain bike trail in Rumford starts at Mountain Valley High School and will extend to Rumford Water District and town lands. Submitted photo


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