Mulik Hassan, from left, Rebecca Kalala, and Fadumo Ahmed work together Tuesday cutting branches in an area they are building into an ADA trail at Camp Gustin in Sabattus. The teens are part of Gateway to Opportunity. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

SABATTUS — Four teenage girls are helping construct a trail that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act at Camp Gustin, which came under Androscoggin Land Trust ownership last September.

It is one of the first trail systems on the property, which was formerly used as a Boy Scouts of America camp site, according to Stewardship Director Amy Soper. There are trails on the property, but none are established, though the trust says it plans to build them out.

The Lewiston teens are members of a Maine Youth Action Network program that started July 10 to develop the ADA-compliant gravel trail. They are spending four days per week working on the trail during the six-week program.

On Monday, they met with Enock Glidden, an advocate for people with disabilities, to discuss how to make the 400-foot trail in Sabattus — from a picnic area down a sloped path to Loon Pond — fully accessible.

Among the questions the teens need to consider: what should be on signs, how wide should the trail be, how visible should the trail be, along with other aspects of designing an ADA-compliant trail, Soper said.

Glidden, who has spina bifida, spoke to the group about how to test the trail for accessibility, where to place signs and how to create a trail maneuverable by people with disabilities, 16-year-old Fadumo Ahmed said.


Another volunteer, Rebecca Kalala, 18, said Glidden helped the group see things from someone else’s perspective.

From left, Lillith Price-Wharff, Fadumo Ahmed, and Mulik Hassan, rake leaves Tuesday at Camp Gustin in Sabattus as part of Gateway to Opportunity. The program is working with the Androscoggin Land Trust to create an ADA trail and the new public area. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

As of Tuesday, the teens had spent three to four hours of labor clearing the path and getting it ready for gravel, Maine Youth Action Network team leader Lillith Price-Wharff said.

They will spend each morning working on the trail and afternoons creating trail signs and trail designs, along with other activities. When work is complete, they plan to put a picnic table and some benches by the pond.

The trail is part of the trust’s effort to create natural spaces accessible to all people, Price-Wharff said. During the pandemic, all types of people started flocking to outdoor recreation places, such as hiking trails, so the trust wants to ensure that there are accessible natural spaces for everyone.

“COVID brought a lot of people out into nature, with different abilities, and we want to do our best to support those changes and abilities,” she said.

The public can engage in low-impact recreation, meaning biking, hiking and swimming, on the 429 acres of land owned by the trust between Moon Pond and Curtis Bog.


Glidden grew up in Maine and always enjoyed the outdoors, he said. He rock climbs, skis and for the last few years has been writing blogs reviewing trails around the state for Maine Trail Finder. Most accessible trails are found along the coast, with few of those trails found inland.

While he has seen an improvement in trail accessibility there is still “a long way to go,” he said.

Lewiston-Auburn Greenway Trails is the only ADA-compliant trail listed on Maine Trail Finder in the immediate area.

When consulting with organizations on accessible trails, Glidden suggests adding three-foot-wide trails, ensuring paths are smooth with no roots showing and placing accessible parking spaces right at trailheads.

Hannah Walton tosses an armload of leaves onto a brush pile Tuesday as she works with the rest of the Gateway to Opportunity crew to create an ADA compliant trail at Camp Gustin in Sabattus. on the left behind her are, from left, participants Fadumo Ahmed, Mulik Hassan and Rebecca Kalala. The program is working with the Androscoggin Land Trust. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The project prompted Ahmed to start thinking about things with a more open mind, she said. And Mulki Hassan, 16, said she hopes people use the trail to experience the Maine woods.

For Hannah Walton, 17, the project has helped her be more present outdoors while feeling good about doing something for the community, she said. “I feel like it’s encouraged me a lot more to just take in my surroundings and nature.”


Ahmed hopes her group’s efforts inspire other organizations to create trails that are ADA compliant, she said. The group is also working to inform people that the trail exists so people with disabilities are more aware of all recreation options in their area.

A lack of local ADA-compliant trails can prevent some people with disabilities from getting out of busy areas, Glidden said. Just informing people about local trails and providing adequate transportation to them can expand access.

“Getting those two things taken care of for people would be a huge way to remove a barrier that exists because of the ruralness of Maine and the widespread layout of Maine,” he said.

The teens are planning an event Aug. 16 to showcase the completed trail.

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