Sunrise Trail Riders Secure Final Link in ATV Trail

Sunrise Trail Rider Ross Cookson operates an excavator donated by Johnson’s to improve the usability of the new ATV trail. (Facebook photo)

By Lura Jackson

 

With the recent allocation of a piece of city property to the cause, the Sunrise Trail Riders have secured a route to enable ATV riders to enter and leave Calais, thereby reaching essentially any other linked trail in the state. While there are still some sections that need to be completed – including two bridges for which the club is currently raising funds – the trail is mapped out and passable at this time. The public and any prospective club members are invited to come to a spaghetti supper on June 19th, during which the club officers will outline the year’s progress and what is planned for the next stretch.

“I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve accomplished,” said Bill Lee, president of the club. “The guys did good, they braved the blackflies and mosquitos [to complete the recent links]. It’s going to be well worth it in the end.”

The driving goal of the club over the past several years has been to secure a route into and out of Calais. With a lack of headway in converting the rail system into an ATV trail system, the club had gradually lost steam and its membership slowly dwindled. Last year, the club reformed with renewed energy and a commitment to build an alternative route – a task that required negotiating with land owners and assistance from the city itself. “We couldn’t have done it without the support of the city,” Lee said. “They were instrumental in securing the final connection for us.”

The route connects with Ayer’s Junction, which enables access to the rest of the state. Coming from Ayer’s Junction into Robbinston, travelers will take the Trimble Mountain trail, which Lee said has a “beautiful overlook of the ocean and St. Andrews.” From there the trail leads to the Mt. Holly Road in the Red Beach area before continuing down Shattuck to the Plaster Mill Stream Road (Quarry Road). “It’s a beautiful, scenic route,” Lee said. ATV travelers can opt at that point to visit St. Croix Island’s National Park Service site to learn about its history. In the future, Lee hopes to have a plaque in the Red Beach area denoting the significant history of the small village. “Red Beach was huge in its heyday,” Lee said, alluding to the granite polishing and plaster mill industries that caused the area to boom a century ago.

From Red Beach, the route continues down the dirt portion of the Carson Road, connecting to Hardscrabble and then to a “short jaunt down Route 1” to the trail the city enabled, which provides access to the trail system behind Washington County Community College. From there the trail goes through Eddie Bell’s lot behind Pratt’s, letting out on South Street, which ATV users can cross to travel to local businesses and hotels, following a recommended route outlined by signage.

The city’s ATV ordinance, which will allow for ATV users to travel on city streets, will be discussed on June 14th at the city council meeting. “We want to stress that it’s not to be out joyriding on the streets,” Lee said. “They have to have a destination.”

The route is currently about 80 percent completed, Lee estimates, with the majority of work needed consisting of groundwork and assistance with the two bridges, which will cost about $500 each. Johnson’s True Value in Calais has donated the use of an excavator and Lee is asking for help from anyone able to lend a hand. “Anyone that is willing to work, we’ll gratefully accept the help,” Lee said. “It’s not rocket science, it’s just moving a little bit of brush and doing some groundwork to make it safe for travelers.”

 

If you’d like to help, or to find out about joining the club, contact Lee directly at 214-8740. For those on Facebook, the club maintains an open group under Sunrise Trail Riders with minutes from past meetings and videos of the trail available. Everyone is encouraged to come to the by-donation spaghetti supper on June 19th at the Methodist Homes Recreation Hall at 5 p.m. It is open to the public – “we won’t refuse anybody,” Lee advises – and those who are interested in joining the club are particularly invited. The club will be voting for its officers for the coming year, and now is the perfect time to get involved with the trail itself mapped out. “We’d like to explain to everybody what we’ve done in the past year and what we’re planning in the next year.”