MILLINOCKET, Maine — Organizers of the effort to connect the Katahdin region to a statewide ATV trail network hope their multiuse recreational trail will be open by mid-October, one of them said Friday.
“We are hopeful that it will be open for leaf peeping season,” said Paul Sannicandro, one of the leaders of the pioneering trail effort.
Builders of the 23-mile trail had hoped to have it finished by Friday, but poor weather and requirements from state inspectors put the project behind schedule.
The completed trail will start at the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club and run to a multiuse recreational bridge near Route 11 west of town. Phase II will go from there to the South Twin trail area and Seboeis, where it will connect with the statewide ATV trail network.
Though built as a multiuse trail open to hikers, bicyclists, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts, the finished trail is most often called an ATV trail, reflecting its proponents’ desire to connect to the ATV trail network and bring some of the millions of dollars generated by riders statewide into the Katahdin region.
As all-terrain vehicle aficionados, volunteers Sannicandro, Town Councilor John Raymond and longtime region snowmobiling advocate Brian Wiley began the regional trail effort about four years ago in response to area business owners’ complaints that the lack of ATV trails deprived the region of a much-needed income stream.
The advocates hope that ATV traffic could eventually equal that generated by snowmobiles — or more, given that ATVs are ridden in three seasons, compared to one season for snowmobilng.
Sannicandro estimated that about two more weeks of trail work remains. He said he was glad that ATV riders have been staying off the completed portions of trail, complimenting Police Chief Donald Bolduc and other Millinocket police for their enforcement efforts.
“I’ve only seen one instance where somebody had [left] bike tracks out there,” Sannicandro said.
Sannicandro and State Rep. Herbert Clark are working to take advantage in a change in state laws that allows money generated by TIFs to go toward the creation or maintenance of ATV trails.
As secretary of the Northern Timber Cruisers ATV and Snowmobile Club, which is one of the project’s supporters, Sannicandro wrote a letter dated Sept. 9 to Town Manager Eugene Conlogue requesting that $6,000 in TIF funds be used to help pay for the last portion of trail construction, Clark said in an email.
No decision on that request has been made.