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Here where I live (Downeast Maine) the old railbed is in the process of being converted into a multi-use trail. The original proposal for the trail was for it to be open in summer for bicycle, walking/hiking, and ATV's and in the winter for cross country skiing, snowshoes, and snowmobile.
I am curious if anyone has had experience in their areas with shared use trails and/or rails to trails conversions and how it has worked out. A few of the several articles in local papers referenced shared use trails in other states such as PA and NY some of which worked out well and some that did not and were eventually closed for ATV use.
The project is well underway with nearly half of the ~ 90 miles of tracks removed and now the final surfaces have started being placed in someplaces. As the time approaches for sections to begin opening for summer use debate has again started up about allowing ATV's to use the trail. There was plenty of debate over it from the start as well as a very heated debate about converting the rails into a trail at all. There is a renewed effort by some to not allow ATV's to use the trail with a variety of reasons from damage to the trail, danger to walkers/bikers, and as one very vocal advocate was quoted "packs of ATV's roaring through our towns".
This past winter a section of the trail was opened and by all accounts the shared use worked out well. It was a big success and brought in quite a bit of money to local business from snowmobilers using the trail. The people in charge of the trail, the state DOT, DOC and Parks and Lands are still very much hoping and planning on allowing ATV use because they know that ATV clubs/riders will bring in the bulk of the projected moneys to local business and dropping them from the plan will result in the loss of a lot of the support for the trail which as I said has been verty controversial right from the start.
With any luck in a month or so the first section will open to ATV use. I've got my fingers crossed and hoping that the tree huggers and the few disrespectful riders will not ruin this great opportunity.
With any luck in a month or so the first section will open to ATV use.
County....Sounds like a good deal. Hope it all works out for you folks. Seems kind of weird ripping along right next to some person walking their drop-kick dog, but who knows. I guess you're just going to have to be careful not to run somebody over. It'll be a matter of choosing the right time to ride, when the least amount of people are using the trail. You can guarantee that when it first opens the most people will use it, then the crowds will start to wane.
Just looking at the map: So between Ellsworth and Columbia, that's a legal state controlled existing ATV trail, then it hits the new section (rail line) and heads north-east from there? I didn't realize it was such a huge undertaking. Was thinking it was a short section of rail through a couple of towns, not half of the Downeast region.....very impressive. The company I work for just took over a huge section of Machias area, so I've got an excuse to head up during the week. Looking forward to that.
ATVs bring about A LOT of debate. Seems like the snowmobile gang is more organized and has deeper pockets.....gets more respect in ME and VT / NH. ATV guys have to get serious. Generally, it seems people find snowmobiles less threatening. Maybe it's the youth factor with ATVs. I think people's vision of an "ATVer" is a 16 year old on a sport quad, trespassing and "ripping up the neighborhood".....unfortunate for sure (no offense sport quad guys).
Sound like a really fun ride. Good luck!
Back again....Wow, I just watched the Maine DOC's slide show on the before and after....amazing. That is good stuff. Can't wait for that to open in May. That is going to attract 'em by the 1000s. What an awesome investment in time and money. I'm blown away.
From Ellsworth to Columbia is not an ATV trail at this point It is the section of the tracks that are yet to be removed. The tracks have been removed from Columbia east to Ayers Junction in PM. The final surfaces are only complete on a short section around Machias at this time. In total the rail trail distance is about 90 miles it will also connect with hundreds of miles of other established trails in the area. There are also plans in the works to extend the trail further east to Calais they just need to figure out how to get through/past the Moosehorn.
I was talking to a Game Warden who used to patrol the Newport area and apparently there is a "rail to trails" there from Newport to Dover Foxcroft. It is just like this one is supposed to be shared us. The Warden said there were surprisingly few complaints issues with the shared us and absolutely no accidents. There are very few sport quad riders in this area, atleast that I know of, the bulk of those using the trail, atleast locals, will be on utility atv's. There will be speed limits and hopefully some decent enforcement to start and I see no problem with the shared use with responsible riders but it will be the reckless ones who might ruin it. I personally will cruise along at 15-20mph tops and enjoy the ride.
The slide show of pictures is quite amazing, there were/are a lot of areas that needed repair, some really huge wash outs. There are several large trestle bridges that needed to be repaired and decked over.
I dont know when it will open but hoping it will start in a month or two, their "Trail Day" celebration is scheduled for June 6th so I'm thinking they'll want to have some open by then. Best case scenerio their will only be half of it open this year as they still have plenty of work to do on the western end.
I you get down this way looking to ride let me know.
CountyMounty, I've ridden on a couple of railtrails up in NH. The Fremont-Derry trail and the Sugar River Railtrail. One is about 10 miles long the other about 15 or so. They allow ATVs all year round on these trails as long as the snow isn't too soft in the wintertime. The summer speed limits on these are 25 mph. It's a nice cruising speed. When we encounter others not on ATVs the rule of thumb is to simply slow down. With horses we stop and let them go by so we don't spook them. Walkers and bike riders we go by very slowly. Try not to go so fast that we leave them choking on our dust. Once past we get back up to cruising speed. Another way to help our image is to take part in trail cleanups and bridge building projects. I'll be going up to the Sugar River trail on Wednesday to help with a cleanup. My son and I helped build some long bridges up in Claremont, NH a couple years back and now it's nice going over them and remembering a day well spent. And, on the other hand, avoid doing things like donuts in the parking lot, wheelies along the main street that the trail runs along, speeding, dusting horses, dogs, walkers, bikers, etc.
What can be said of this mystery we're in? I have only one answer to give,
If Jesus didn't die to be the Savior of my soul, truly, I do not want to live.
For what would living be without a meaning and a hope?
Precious little more than just some cruel cosmic joke.
It's like being all dressed up and there was never even anywhere to go...
When we encounter others not on ATVs the rule of thumb is to simply slow down. With horses we stop and let them go by so we don't spook them. Walkers and bike riders we go by very slowly. Try not to go so fast that we leave them choking on our dust.
Good deal. Yeah, that kind of respect goes a LONG way with the non-ATV public. This is how I operate on a snowmobile trial.....Even though people shouldn't be walking their dogs on the sled trails, I still go easy and crawl by with a wave. You never know if you're passing the property owner.
The final surfaces are only complete on a short section around Machias at this time.
So ATVs can't ride on the trail until it has a finished surface on it? Seems like as long as you're not riding over actual rails and ties, ATVs could get a jump on the biking crowd Maybe there's liability issues, I don't know. I guess you don't want to get in the way of the work either.
Originally Posted by CountyMounty
There are also plans in the works to extend the trail further east to Calais they just need to figure out how to get through/past the Moosehorn.
When successful, this project will be a great model for other communities looking to improve their ATV access. It certainly is a big draw in the warm months. I95 is filled with pickups / trailers and ATVs heading north on Thurs / Friday any given summer weekend. Good for Maine....Good for you guys.
You can't forget about that character Henderson trying to stop construction of the trail. Hopefully it won't slow down progress things too much. I think this trail will be great. The one up north is nice and as far as I know there hasn't been much trouble on it. I've ridden the one from Newport-Dover Foxcroft. The trail is pretty dusty, but the loop off the rail trail in Corinna is pretty fun. I can't wait until trails start opening here in Maine on May 15th. Think I'll go for a ride some place right around then.
Over the past few days I have walked some sections of the trail around Machias and it is in pretty good shape, almost completely dry and only 1 very small wash out. It is easy to see the difference between the areas that are "finished" and those that are not as the finished area has near a foot of rocky gravel on it where as the other sections have simple just been graded, all would be fine for ATV's in my opinion but I understand why they may want to wait until completely done before opening. At the moment I dont think there is any work at all being done on the trail and I'm not sure why.
Two of the local towns have just made several of their roads "ATV access routes" in anticipation of the trail opening, its nice to see that support, and today I heard rumor that a section of the trail around Machias may actually open mid May. As for how to ride on the trail I plan to do exactly as described and slow way down when meeting walkers and bicycles and try to keep the dust down for them. I really hope there are not too many bad eggs abusing the priveledge and making a bad name for us.
Yes there is one land owner in the western area that is taking court action to stop the trail and it is a temporary set back but ultimately I think the state will win out. It is no doubt a work in progress and something totally new for the area. I hope it all works out and brings some money and enjoyment to the area.