The construction of a new mountain biking trail network in Rumford will begin this fall, according to an announcement made by the nonprofit Mahoosuc Pathways on Tuesday.
“We expect to break ground any day,” said Gabe Perkins, executive director of Mahoosuc Pathways.
The new trails will start behind Mount Valley High School, weaving through the forest to neighboring property that’s owned by the Rumford Water District and the Town of Rumford. The network will include three intersecting trails that total about 3 miles, with room for expansion in the future.
“We try to build fun and flowy easy to intermediate mountain biking trails,” Perkins said. “So we try to find terrain that matches that. It looks like a pretty easy build [in Rumford].”
Mahoosuc Pathways is a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to connecting communities through trails in the Mahoosuc region of western Maine, which spans from Rumford west to the New Hampshire border. The organization took on the project when approached by a group of Rumford residents known as the Pennacook Area Community Trails, or “PACT” for short. This group is now a committee of Mahoosuc Pathways, Perkins said.
“They came to us with the idea,” Perkins said. “We were psyched because we’ve wanted to work in the River Valley or Rumford in a while. It kind of fell from the sky for us.”
The committee is made up of town officials, RSU 10 faculty, ND Paper employees and other members of the Rumford community. They have worked for more than a year to develop relationships with landowners and secure funding for the first phase of the project.
“This project leverages our two greatest resources, our people and our land,” said Chris Brennick, a PACT member and the chairman of the Rumford Board of Selectpersons. “This is such an incredibly beautiful area that a mountain biking trail system fits in very naturally.”
Rumford is home to a variety of destinations for recreators, including the ski slopes of Black Mountain, the hiking trails on Rumford Whitecap Mountain and easy access to the Androscoggin River for paddlers. However, these will be the first trails designed specifically for mountain biking in the town.
“Everyone has been riding on the pipeline trails or logging roads,” Perkins said. “They seen these trails being built on Titcom [Mountain in Farmington] and Bethel and Gorham [New Hampshire] and Vermont, and wanted some for their own to do what we think mountain biking does really well, which is revitalize the community and have a positive economic impact.”
“We’re hoping to attract people here to mountain bike,” Brennick said. “And hopefully that will result in them going to local shops and restaurants, being a patron of those places … I really think it’s about building momentum.”
Mahoosuc Pathways predicts that the first 3 miles of trail will cost about $20,000 to construct. So far, the project has received a $5,000 grant from the Oxford County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation and about $2,000 through individual donations.
“We wanted to get started,” Perkins said. “The committee is really eager, so we’re going to go for it and continue to fundraise for it while we build.”
Founded in 2011, Mahoosuc Pathways recently built about 8 miles of mountain biking trails in the Bethel area. The organization also recently purchased the 978-acre Bethel Community Forest and constructed about 1.5 miles of walking trails on the property.
The new Rumford trails will be wide single-track, Perkins said. They will be open to walkers, however, bikers will have right of way. And in the winter, the trails will be open to snowshoers.
To date, the first 3 miles of trail have already been flagged and the corridor has been cleared.
“We’re going to see how far we can get this fall,” Perkins said. “We look forward to working on this project long into the future.”
A volunteer workday on the trails is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 6, starting at the Mountain Valley High School rear parking area. For more information or to make a donation of money or equipment, call Gabe Perkins at 207-200-8240 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay up to date on the project, visit mahoosucpathways.org.