Recreationists will find diverse foliage along new Down East trail

Posted Sept. 09, 2010, at 11:20 a.m.

Outdoor recreationists using the Down East Sunrise Trail between Cherryfield and Whitneyville will see some gorgeous foliage — at least that’s what we’re assuming, based on the natural summertime beauty already found along this well-built trail.

Sometime this month, the Maine Department of Conservation will open the Down East Sunrise Trail’s mid-section, the 25 miles between Route 193 in Cherryfield and Route 1A in Whitneyville. The project has been overseen by the Off Road Vehicle Division, part of the DOC’s Bureau of Parks and Land.

From Route 1A in Whitneyville to Centerville Road in Columbia Falls, the DEST rolls approximately 13 miles through inland terrain accessed by only one paved artery, the Station Road in Jonesboro. This uninter-rupted scenery means that ATVers and other outdoor recreationists will see “lots of good stuff [while] crossing Indian Stream [in Columbia Falls]” and “Chandler River [in Jonesboro], as well as several feeder streams to those,” said Scott Ramsay, who heads the Off Road Vehicle Division.

“As I recall, there is some really high ground, too, by most trail stan-dards not much of a hill, but a long sustained grade” surmounting Staple Ridge in Jonesboro “that was difficult on trains and certainly [will] test bicy-cle riders’ legs and will power on that section,” he said.

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Between Mile Markers 42 in Co-lumbia Falls and 30 in Cherryfield, the DEST crosses the Pleasant River and Epping Road in Columbia Falls, passes a lovely marsh created by Branch Brook, and parallels a Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. transmission line in Co-lumbia.

The DEST actually nudges “in-town” Harrington, passing a cemetery and crossing the scenic Harrington River on a rebuilt bridge. About a quarter mile from the Webb District Road intersection, the trail passes a cat tail-bordered pond and commercial cranberry bogs; the domed gymna-sium of Narraguagus High School peeks through the thick foliage sepa-rating the trail from Route 1.

Then the DEST abuts Route 1 for almost four miles through Harring-ton, Milbridge, and Cherryfield. A long straightaway appears beyond the Willey District Road intersection, and the trail crosses Mill River (another lovely Washington County stream) and its marsh at the Milbridge-Cherryfield town line.

Past Mile Marker 31, the DEST features a gradual decline appreciated by mountain bikers, then crosses the Willey District Road and Route 193, passes between blueberry processing plants, and spans the fast-flowing Narraguagus River on a steel trestle. A trail head exists at Route 193.

Throughout its 25-mile mid-section, the DEST features a well-built road surface similar to that found east of Whitneyville. When completed, the Down East Sunrise Trail will run 82 miles from Washington Junction in Hancock to Ayers Junction (Route 214) in Pembroke. The trail follows the Maine Central Railroad corridor acquired by Maine in the mid-1980s.

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