By Jelane A. Kennedy
The Eastern Trail in Maine is a hidden treasure and part of a larger bicycling trail from Maine all the way to Florida called the East Coast Greenway that covers 2,900 miles (25% of the route is on safe car free biking paths). The Eastern Trail itself is 65 miles in length, with sections that are also offer car free biking. In 1997 the building of the trail began. Many people come to the area to enjoy Old Orchard Beach and only think of hanging out at the ocean. But if you are looking for some fun off the beach here is a possibility. Bring your bicycle and helmet or rent from local retailers.
A few years ago we had walked part of the Eastern Trail and talked about biking sometime, but we just had not brought our bikes on other trips. So this time while packing Abbey our van, I added the bike rack and brought them along.
Camping at the KOA in Saco was the perfect launch point to what would become a biking vacation. On our first morning we decided to see if we could find the closest access point to the off-road bike trail. The campground was on Spring Hill Road but the road across the street was listed as Mill Pond Rd. which did not match up with my paper map printed from my computer before we left home, after some confusion and a quick conversation with one of the campground Manager’s (our friend Curt). He explained that yes we could just go across Route 1 onto Mill Pond Rd. to the trail but that crossing Route 1 would be a big challenge! It can be crazy busy!
After what seemed like eternity all dressed ready to bike in our padded bike shorts, gloves and helmet, we stood waiting for a good break in the traffic. Once that finally came we were off on a relaxing adventure. Mill Pond Road gentle curves down to a small parking spot that bikers can leave their cars as they mount up to take the small segue onto the bike trail. We took a left and headed toward Scarborough. A big grin came across Eileen’s face.
“You look happy.”
“Yeah, it is like swimming for me, it is suddenly like I’m a little kid.”
“I know what you mean, that sense of freedom.”
“That rush of joy and calm out here coasting along.”
So started our day. The tree’s provided a beautiful canopy over the trail, buffering out the sounds of nearby traffic zooming up and down Route 1. We rode through woods, and out over the salt marsh that we had visited before on another trip via canoe. While peddling through the marsh on the raised trail bed we saw multiple snowy egrets playing. Further into the ride we found a lovely bench where we stopped to munch on our trail lunch near a golf course where there were ponds of open water in between the dense marsh grasses.
This section of the trail was well maintained and had several restroom facilities sprinkled along the way. During the trip we saw a guy dress in a reflective shirt cleaning one of the port-a-potties. I thanked him for his work, without people like him the port-a-potties could a mess.
We road all the way to where the off-road trail ended at Black Point Street. We were not interested this time in riding in traffic to pick up the next off-road section, it just seemed too busy on road. I didn’t want to ruin the nice calm I felt from cruising along the quiet trail. The return ride back to our access point at Mill pond road was just as nice and though we started the day needing our windbreakers we happily tucked them away in Eileen’s bike trunk as the ride progressed to the end. It was great to see along the way kids of all ages, sizes and nationalities peddling along having fun. We rode about 11 miles round trip.
On the return we hit a great break in the traffic at the crossing of Route 1 and peddled back to our campsite at the KOA on Spring Hill Road. Which lead to a quick change into our swimsuits and a refreshing swim in the pool.
(c) 2014 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran