Some of Maine’s trails are in disrepair, but help may be on the way

MOB membeer Maine Appalachian Trail Club is planning a new $1.3 million facility in Skowhegan that will offer land managers a venue to teach trail-building skills.

The need for more durable and sustainable hiking trails in Maine has come into the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic as land trusts have experienced a surge in hikers, some of them on trails badly in need of repair.

Soon there could be help for those trails, as Maine becomes one of a handful of states in the nation to offer a fixed-site, trail-building school.

On Monday, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club will launch a public fundraising campaign for the $1.3 million Maine Trail Center, a multi-use facility it plans to build near the Kennebec River in Skowhegan. The center will serve as a site to house volunteer trail crews working on the AT, and as a facility  other groups can rent or use for trail-building workshops or to teach trail-building design and skills.

The Maine club, which maintains 267 miles of the Appalachian Trail, needs to raise $600,000 by year’s end in order to break ground next spring. Already, the club has raised $733,000 through private donations and grants from private foundations. And it has secured the 55-acre Skowhegan woodlot where the center will be built with a lease from the Somerset Woods Trustees, said MATC President Lester Kenway.

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