A ribbon-cutting for the refurbished recreational trail off Front Street in Farmington will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, at the trailhead next to Big Sky Grille and the Better Living Center. One feature is the new bridge at the southern end of the Prescott Field trail. Franklin Journal file photo

FARMINGTON — University of Maine at Farmington and High Peaks Alliance will hold a ribbon-cutting to officially open renovated sections of the Prescott Field recreational trails off Front Street at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15.

The ceremony will be take place at the trailhead off Front Street next to the Big Sky Grille and the Better Living Center.

Beginning at the south end of Front Street, the trail meanders through a silver maple forest leading to a local swimming hole on the Sandy River. From there it continues, connecting to the public parking area near Narrow Gauge Cinemas.

A number of Prescott Field trails are on UMF property, mainly by the river, according to trailforks.com. They are open to most nonmotorized users, and a few selected trails are open to snowmobiles in the winter. The trails are mostly maintained by the university and its various organizations.

Work on the Accessible Trails Project started in July, adding signs, rerouting some sections and making it more accessible to more people, Brent West, executive director of High Peaks Alliance, said. The alliance collaborated with UMF on the improvements. UMF classes use the trail and several students worked on the project.

The alliance secured $50,000 from the Northern Forest Center for improvements.

The ceremony will include information about the collaboration, the purpose and progress of the project,  and future directions for expanded accessibility of trail systems within Franklin County. A social gathering will be held at Uno Mas at 147 Pleasant St. around 4:30 p.m.

“The preexisting trail consisted of prolific roots that are tripping and wheelchair hazards, very steep sections, and several low-lying areas that generally remained mud pits throughout the spring and summer,” Gina Oswald of the UMF faculty said last month. “In addition, the trail had no viable access to the trailheads for people with disabilities.”

“The project also repurposed an unused town parking area and built a .51-mile crushed stone fully-accessible trail to the banks of the Sandy River,” West said. “The accessible trail reroutes around steep areas and, through the compaction of stone aggregate, the trail surface is wide and stable.”

Renovations were funded through grants from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, Maine Timberland Trust, Northern Forest Center, Libra Foundation and Franklin Savings Bank, he said.

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