Harpswell Board of Selectmen Chair Kevin Johnson applauds after Maine Conservation Corps Team Leader Renee Doran cut the ribbon to mark the grand opening of an accessible section of Cliff Trail. (REBECCA NORDEN-BRIGHT PHOTO)
On Saturday, June 4, community members and hiking enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the grand opening of an inclusive trail, created last year to offer an opportunity for outdoor recreation that would be accessible to all.
Project volunteers thanked community members for their contributions and highlighted the value of the accessible trail, which is navigable by wheelchair or stroller. The trail is part of the town’s Cliff Trail.
David Brooks, a member of the Harpswell Recreation Committee and volunteer trail builder, credited fellow committee member Tony Barrett with the idea for the project.
“He was the one who said, ‘We really ought to make this a trail that anybody in town can go on,'” Brooks said. “Anybody who went there before knew it was muddy after rain, and (there were) roots galore. Nobody could even see because you were watching your feet the whole time.”
The 0.4-mile trail winds along Strawberry Creek to the head of tide, with scenic overlooks where hikers can take photos or watch the birds. At the end of the accessible trail, hikers can turn around or climb a more challenging trail to the property’s namesake cliff.
The Maine Conservation Corps was the general contractor for the approximately $100,000 project. A crew from the Conservation Corps worked alongside numerous volunteers. A $50,000 grant from the Maine Recreational Trails Program covered half the cost, with the rest coming from a mix of donations and town funds.
Kevin Johnson, chair of the Board of Selectmen, and Renee Doran, team leader with the Maine Conservation Corps, cut a ribbon at the trailhead to mark the milestone. After the ribbon was cut, hikers — many of whom were participating in the annual Harpswell Hiking Challenge — immediately set out on the new trail.