MILLINOCKET, Maine — Town councilors last week approved a plan to extend the town’s all-terrain vehicle trail, and are also eyeing further extension of the regional 16½-mile multiuse recreational trail network to the east.
The new ATV trail would extend north from Pelletier Loggers Restaurant, along Katahdin Avenue and Bates Street to the Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile and ATV Club clubhouse on Bates Street.
The plan, according to Northern Timber Cruisers representative John Spence, is to have the new trail connect to land owned by the club just north of the town line on Bates Street.
Town officials are waiting on private landowner permissions to make that connection, said Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson.
The proposal drew little opposition during Thursday’s meeting. Police and councilors agreed the extension would help spread ATV traffic to businesses, while opening new areas to ATV riders.
Millinocket Public Safety Director Steve Kenyon said the trail wouldn’t likely lead to traffic problems from ATV riders who visit the region.
“It is the local ones cutting through and crossing over [private property and streets where ATVs are not allowed] that are going to give us problems,” Kenyon told councilors. He and Councilor Jimmy Busque said only a handful of local riders would likely draw law enforcement upon them.
“As long as they follow the rules, this can certainly be a big economic boost,” Busque said. “It is too bad that we could not further the ATV trails north. That’s what they [riders] wanted to see done.”
ATV and club efforts to extend trails east also are being negotiated, said Spence and Councilor John Raymond, who is a founder of the regional ATV trail network.
The leaders of Katahdin Forest Management, the landowner that helped create the network, have been receptive to the new trail initiative, they said.
The ATV trail, while praised as a pioneering recreational and economic development effort when it launched for its first full season in 2012, has one problem — it is a dead end.
An extension of that trail through the region could turn Millinocket into an important stop on an ATVers version of the east-west highway, Raymond said.