Manchester’s new footpath connects to Hallowell Recreation Area


On Tuesday, Manchester manager Garry Hinckley rides one of the bridges in Manchester’s new trail area as his colleague Bob Gasper looks on. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

MANCHESTER – Cyclists and hikers in Manchester now enjoy a loop trail for walking and mountain biking which connects to Hallowell Recreation Area, known as ‘The RES’.

About a dozen people were involved in the creation and design of the trail, called the “Kerns Hill Connector.” This included a team of three to four people to build the trail, help from members of the Manchester Conservation Commission, and a design by Chris Riley, president of the Central Maine chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association.

Garry Hinkley, who serves as Manchester’s selector, is a member of the Maine Central Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association and an advisory member of the Manchester Conservation Commission, said the idea to build the trail came about recently, when the city acquired a plot of land. The site in Manchester Town Forest was tax acquired property.

Hinkley said the project cost around $17,500. It was primarily funded by the city, with the help of a $2,500 grant from the National Park Service.

Construction of the 1.5 mile loop began in mid-May, but took longer than expected due to rain issues and some track crew members moving to other projects. Hinkley said the actual build time was around four weeks.

No large trees were felled and old skid trails were used to help create the new trail. The bulk of the project consisted of creating five bridges, two short and three bridges long enough to cross the wet and swampy areas.

“Moving the bridge materials was quite an undertaking,” he said, adding that the volunteers literally carried the bridge materials to the construction site.

The finished trails area connects directly to “The RES” in Hallowell, which itself contains 4.5 miles of single track trails specifically designed for mountain biking and hiking.

Garry Hinckley rides his tired mountain bike on Tuesday through the newly constructed trail area off Manchester’s Kerns Hill Road. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Riley said in a press release that trail usage has increased significantly since the construction of the Kerns Hill Connector.

“Adding more trails adjacent to Manchester will relieve some of the pressure on ‘the RES’ and provide a more enjoyable and rewarding experience,” Riley said. “Our track team did a great job. I asked them to be creative with the layout of the trail and especially with the several bridges they built, and they did not disappoint. So far, the feedback on KHC has been overwhelmingly positive.

Looking ahead, Hinkley said the city hopes to expand the trail network by building on two additional plots of land in Manchester Town Forests.

“It’s actually the first phase of a multi-part process,” Hinkley said. “We are submitting an application very soon to see if we can build the rest of the trails next year.”

He said Julie Isbyproject manager of the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program, was a great help during the first phase of the project and that she had also worked with Hallowell on similar projects.

Looking ahead, he said Isbill is helping the city secure a grant to help fund the conversion of the two additional parcels to trails.

The estimated cost of this second phase, according to Hinkley, is around $50,000.

“We expect it to be very popular,” Hinkley said of the recently completed Kerns Hill connector. “I think people are going to like using it. It is a good place to take a nature walk and it provides additional access to the existing trail network. We were happy to be able to do that. »

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