Cliff Trail Project Update
MAY 1, 2021 - NOVEMBER 15, 2021: The first HALF MILE of Cliff Trail will be closed to hikers due to a construction project. The Town received a grant in 2020 to help us make the first half mile ADA accessible.
- The remainder of the trail is open.
- Please park at the Town Office (263 Mountain Road) and use the path leading out of the parking lot (by propane tank) to access the trail.
- There will be temporary signs and maps installed to help hikers with the changes while the work is being completed.
- Please respect the work area and the Maine Conservation Corps crew that will be working on this project.
CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE TRAIL MAP WITH CHANGES
Cliff Trail Rehabilitation Project
A ½-mile accessible trail from the Town Office to the Strawberry Creek Head of Tide
Vision: A ½-mile smooth-surface path along the shore of tidal Strawberry Creek to the Cascade Falls suitable for all users and age groups.
Current Problem: After 17 years of increasing use and popularity, the first 2,500+ feet of the Cliff Trail, from the Harpswell Town Office parking lot to the crossing of Strawberry Creek at the Head of Tide cascades, has become degraded. This section of trail is a relatively flat, wooded shore walk. However, the trail traverses land with thin soil on marine clay deposits resulting in a forest root structure that is shallow and soil that is poorly drained. Over time, the trail surface has become very muddy in places and covered by tree roots. "There is nary a footfall where one’s shoe doesn’t step on a root or in soft mud."
Background: The Cliff Trail is one of the most popular trails in Harpswell. This trail traverses two parcels of land owned by the Town of Harpswell (acquired in 1978 and 2002) for a total of approximately 194 acres. The trail was opened in 2003 and expanded in 2006. The main loop, Cliff Trail, is 2.3 miles and marked in white blazes. Shorter walks under 2 miles are possible by taking a connector trail (yellow blazes) or by doubling back.
This is a rugged trail that features spectacular views from 150-foot cliffs overlooking Long Reach. Unbroken forest views stretch to the east and south of Long Reach. There are also established viewpoints at Henry’s Creek, along Strawberry Creek and at the Strawberry Creek cascades. Added destinations are the two Fairy house zones which were established in celebration and memory of Lindsey Perkins. Over the past 16 years, Town volunteers have constructed and maintained the trail network at almost no cost to the town of Harpswell.
Although the first ½-mile of trail is relatively flat, it has become more rugged due to the roots and mud obstacles. Maintaining this section of trail has been increasingly problematic for town volunteers. At least three times, sections of the trail along Strawberry Creek have been relocated to avoid the roots and mud where users had skirted around widening the problem areas – but to no avail. After a short time, these new sections become equally degraded. A more sustainable, longer-term solution is needed.
There are several trail building techniques that would address the current problem along Strawberry Creek. These ‘hardening’ techniques would provide for improved water drainage and a smoother trail surface. The Recreation Committee agreed to engage the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) in 2019 to assess and recommend which technique would be most cost-effective and to determine if this ½-mile of the Cliff Trail could be upgraded to an accessible trail suitable for wheelchair users and the less sure-footed. Later that year, the Town received the MCC project plan which specified the trail rehabilitation recommendations, work plan and detailed cost estimates totaling $99,980.
The MCC trail assessment report proposed numberous bridges & culverts providing improved water drainage and a smooth, 4-ft wide gravel path suitable for wheelchair users.
The concept plan was reviewed during a Selectboard workshop later which included a walk-through of the trail section to be rehabilitated.
In September 2019, the Selectboard authorized applying for a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant to help pay for the cost. Fortunately, the State support the creation of more accessible trails in Maine and at the of that year, the Town was awarded a $50,000 grant from this very competitive program. The Recreation Committee recommended Town appropriations which were approved at the 2020 Town Meeting to partially match the RTP grant. The Town decided to hire MCC to carry out the work but due to the pandemic, only additional planning and permitting was carried out in 2020.
Current Plan: Project cost estimates have been refined with actual quotes and a detailed work plan in ready. The estimated project cost is $117,500 and there is a budget shortfall. The Committee will seek donations of services, materials and cash donations to pay for the full anticipated project cost. MCC is scheduled to commence work on April 28 and work through the summer with a 6-person team. The Cliff Trail will remain open, but the 1/2 mile section under construction will remain closed for the summer.
Funding and Budget Request:
RTP Grant $50,000
Town appropriation $19,000
Donated Labor & Materials $11,000
Recreation Carryover $7,500
Fundraising campaign $30,000
Our fundraising goal is $30,000 to help complete this project. We are on our way to reaching that goal, but still need help. Please consider contributing to our campaign. A donation can be given by cash or check at the Town Office (please put “Cliff Trail" in the memo line) or below in the guest checkout with a credit/debit card. The Cliff Trail Patrons, below, have agreed to match your donation $1 for $1.
Patrons of Cliff Trail
Tom & Heather Carr, Bob Waddle, Don & Dee Miskill, Kevin & Deb Johnson, Dave Chipman, Chris & Cricket Tupper, Ken & Sharon Oehmig, Doug Warren & Pam Berry, Jeff Stann, Bill & Beth Muldoon, Greg & Donna Barmore, Marguerite Kelly, Bill & Judy Perkins, Laurie Johnson & Scott Keller, Lee & Sally Theberge, Crooker Construction, Central Maine Power and several Anonymous Patrons.