A group of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps members are constructing biking, hiking and snowshoeing trails at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville and Surry Hill in Fayette through early November.
The group, including six AmeriCorps members and a team leader from different states around the country, began working Wednesday following an orientation day at the Harold Alfond Snowmaking Center in Waterville. Mainers have shown an increased interest in outdoor recreation during the pandemic, and expanding the number of trails and their difficulty will give people new options — especially in mountain biking.
At Quarry Road Trails, a year-round outdoor recreation destination, the volunteers are helping build a new single-track trail for mountain biking, hiking and snowshoeing.
“Our Nordic trails are extremely beginner-friendly,” said Justin Fereshetian, program director and Nordic coach at Quarry Road Trails. “They’re wide and relatively flat in terms of bumps. … At some point, it gets a little boring. Single-track trails are way more fun to ride.”
Introducing a new trail will also help the recreation facility become more inclusive. Quarry Road Trails is “skewed toward intermediate levels and above,” with its current trails, Fereshetian said, but he’s hopeful this additional trail will appeal to people of all ages and abilities.
Quarry Road Trails is valued by families and locals, and Fereshetian wants it to draw more visitors from outside the immediate area.
“We want to be able to offer more, so it’s more worth it for people to come up and spend the day riding and not feel like they’re looping over the same spots a bunch of times,” he said.
The AmeriCorps team is staying at the Alfond Youth & Community Center’s Camp Tracy in Oakland.
The volunteers — from Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas — come from mixed backgrounds and recently worked on a project in Wisconsin, said Alexis Krigbaum, an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps representative and member of the team.
“We did some trail maintenance and invasive species work [in Wisconsin],” she said. “We learned some of the basics and more of the maintenance aspect versus the construction. Coming out here, this is us being really immersed in the world of trail construction.”
Nonprofit Friends of Quarry Road — along with the Waterville Parks and Recreation Department, the Alfond Youth & Community Center and the central Maine chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association — collaborated and applied for an AmeriCorps team to assist with the trail construction.
At Surry Hill in Fayette, the volunteers will break ground on a project that Chris Riley, president of the central Maine chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association, predicted will take several years to complete. His organization has partnered with the Kennebec Land Trust, which owns the property, to build a trail system on its 330 acres.
Besides a walking trail at the Surry Hill location, “Fayette has no real trail system in its town,” Riley said. A new trail will be constructed with bikers as the primary users in mind, and it will eventually create a loop with the already existing walking trail, he said.
“With the pandemic, we saw so many people needing to get outside for increased health and wellness and mental sanity,” he said. “Our group has seen a huge increase in the sport of mountain biking, and with that, comes a demand for places to ride.”
Although people’s love for outdoor activities such as trail running, mountain biking and nature observation isn’t new, it has taken on more meaning in the last year to 18 months, Riley said.
“People want places to recreate in their community or surrounding community, so that’s what we’ve been focused on,” he said.
The AmeriCorps volunteers will remain in Maine until Nov. 8.