Ten years ago, a crowd of citizens united to celebrate the opening of the Whiskeag Trail, a five mile long multi-use trail in the north end of Bath crossing forested lands owned the City of Bath and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT). This true community achievement was thanks to the efforts from the City of Bath, local schools, non-profits, individual hikers and bicycle riders, and private businesses. By connecting our communities, we grow closer connections with each other and the place we call home. The public is invited to walk, bike, or run the trail this fall to celebrate! Visit www.kennebecestuary.org/whiskeag-trail-bath for a trail map and directions and follow KELT on Facebook and Instagram for ways to share your adventures.
The Whiskeag Trail explores pockets of lovely wooded areas while connecting destinations throughout Bath like the YMCA, McMann playing fields, Bath Middle School, Oak Grove Cemetery, and the conservation land at Sewall Woods and Thorne Head Preserves.
Bath’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Steve Balboni, was one of the key leaders in creating the trail in 2010. “It has been amazing to watch the usage grow over the last ten years. We are proud to have been involved from the beginning and are just as excited to see what the future brings”, said Steve, “The Whiskeag Trail is a special place that makes you feel like you are in the middle of nature. Get out there and enjoy what’s in your backyard.”
Walking through the forest, and along the creek provides an escape into nature for the casual walker, birdwatcher, or mountain biker. It’s not uncommon to encounter great blue heron or bald eagle along Whiskeag Creek, or a deer or wild turkey along the trail. Beaver and coyote also call this place home, along with numerous bird species that benefit from this protected area. Mountain bikers will find the trail fun with some challenge mixed in, while connecting destinations like Bath Middle School to the YMCA, and popular hiking destinations at Thorne Head Preserve.
Kevin Shute has enjoyed the Whiskeag Trail since the project’s beginning. “I’m always amazed by the number of folks I meet on the trail.” Shute said, “Local area residents are fortunate to have such a valuable resource in their community.”
It has been clear during the pandemic that local appreciation of the trail has been stronger than ever. Trail usage has increased across the state, as residents seek ways to spend some of their free time out in nature. KELT continues to build and maintain trails in the region, and takes pride in providing access to natural places during this time of need. “I know my wife and I were especially grateful to have access to the trail during the COVID lockdown this spring.” Shute added, “Being outside kept us sane.”
Bath Trails is the community coalition that stewards the five miles long trail. It is a partnership of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, City of Bath, local schools, non-profits, individual hikers and bikers, and private businesses. The mission is set on the creation, connection, and maintenance of a network of multi-use trails for recreation, transportation, and a healthier community. Opportunities to care for the Whiskeag Trail and trails nearby can be found at www.kennebecestuary.org/opportunities or by following the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust on social media.