Wheels are turning to build Maine’s next mountain biking destination

GREENVILLE – Greenville has seen a surge in visitors over the past two summers during the pandemic, adding to tourists who have already made the Moosehead Lake area one of Maine’s top outdoor destinations.

Today, some residents of the town of 1,600 people are hoping that developing a network of bike paths modeled on those built in other Maine communities will attract more tourists and residents year round.

The Moosehead Outdoor Alliance recently received approval from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Land to construct a 25-mile trail system on 2,000 acres of the state-owned Little Moose Public Preserve just west of Greenville , where several hiking trails and primitive campsites are already popular. .

This first phase of the trail network – which would include trails for beginners, intermediates and experts – will cost approximately $ 600,000 to $ 700,000 to build, according to Chuck Wagenheim, president of the alliance. It would be the flagship section of an expanding ATV network around Moosehead, the state’s largest lake.

The nonprofit alliance, which formed last year, hopes to secure grants as have other mountain bike clubs in Maine. He also hosted a six outdoor and bike movie series in Greenville this summer to raise awareness and raise money for the project.

“We really hope this will bring younger families to the city, more kids to school and create jobs,” said Greenville City Manager Mike Roy, who sits on the Alliance Board of Directors. . “The role of the city is minimal. But we want this group to be successful. We want these trails to be successful.

Downtown Greenville, as seen in mid-August. The Moosehead Outdoor Alliance of Greenville plans to build a 25 mile mountain bike trail system in the Greenville area. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Personal photographer

Summer tourism in Greenville has taken off over the past two years, Roy said.

“We have a flashing light in town. This summer people said we now need a red light there, ”Roy said.

Typically, accommodations and restaurants around Moosehead Lake slow down after Labor Day before resuming before Indigenous Peoples Day, at the height of fall foliage, but this year most are now busy or crowded at full capacity, said Allison Arbo, director of the local chamber of commerce. , Destination Moosehead Lake.

“The restaurants are packed and the accommodations are full on weekends, which is a bit unusual,” Arbo said.

Roy and Wagenheim are hopeful that a high-level cycle route network created around downtown Greenville will attract even more people. Other cities in Maine – such as Carrabassett Valley, Bethel, Gorham and Camden – have seen similar trail systems attract tourists and prove to be outdoor equipment that has improved the health and fitness of residents.

Maine has eight chapters of the New England Mountain Bike Association, the Northeast’s premier mountain biking trail nonprofit. The Piscataquis County chapter that includes the Greenville runners is one of the newer clubs in the state. Many clubs in Maine have partnered with municipalities to develop popular trail networks.

In Gorham, the city has provided about a third of the land used for 36 miles of new mountain bike trails over the past five years. The city has pledged at least $ 30,000 between staff time and municipal funds for the cause, said Tom Poirier, director of community development for Gorham.

“It’s hard not to spend a day in Gorham without seeing several people at the trailhead near the high school or the one near the pumping trail,” Poirier said.

Carrabassett Valley could be the most successful urban trail system to date – with a 65 mile trail network soon to expand to 75 miles. City Manager Dave Cota said Carrabassett Valley had just received a federal grant of $ 300,000 to build trails on the Crocker Mountain Public Reserve.

Cota said the difference for them was the energy and effort of the local mountain bike club as well as the city’s long-standing relationship with Sugarloaf Mountain (the city owns the golf course and the center of outdoors and rent both at the ski area). The 10-year-old trail system, which also crosses the Maine Huts and Trails, will host a World Cup mountain bike event at Sugarloaf next year.

But building mountain bike trails – especially through the mountains – is neither easy nor cheap. About $ 800,000 has already been spent on the Carrabassett trail system, Cota said, and he estimated that about 70 percent has been funded by the city, which has embraced the new outdoor gear with a passion.

Rodney Folsom and Chuck Wagenheim walk along a trail that would be part of the new 25-mile mountain bike trail system that the Moosehead Outdoor Alliance hopes to build in the Greenville area. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Personal photographer

“ATV has added a new reason for owning second homes here,” Cota said. “There are businesses now open in the summer that were never open before. And businesses that were never busy in the summer are now busy. It had a lot of impact. But it’s not just about tourism, it’s about recreation, people are leading healthier lives here.

Greenville already has a multi-use trail about a mile long that starts from downtown, crosses private land and connects to the public reserve land unit to the west where the 25 miles of trails will be built. Roy said that the The city also wants to build a pump track – a skills course for young people – at Red Cross Beach, next to Moosehead Lake.

“We hope to make this area more attractive for people to come and enjoy the lake,” Roy said.

The two would put Greenville on Maine’s mountain biking map, Wagenheim said. Three areas including beginner, intermediate and expert trails would be built in Little Moose Public Reserve Land with ta first zone offering 5 miles of trails for beginners. On the ridge of Little Moose Mountain, an intermediate and expert single track terrain would be built offering technical, narrow, and smooth trails that are more challenging and fun for advanced cyclists.

Wagenheim said the vision is to build a trail system that will be used extensively by the mountain bike community – and new riders.

“We would have bike racks in town and at the start of the trails,” Wagenheim said.

The local chapter of NEMBA has local businessmen and mountain biking enthusiasts behind the effort, including Wagenheim, a local fishing guide, and real estate agent Rodney Folsom Jr.

“I lived in Wyoming for nine years and rode mountain biking there,” Folsom said. “When this effort started, I jumped on it to help.”


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