By Sarah Marble
The mountains in Western Maine have always been my family’s stomping grounds. I have hiked many of the rugged peaks cooing to the sleeping baby on my husband’s back, holding the tiny hands of our always inquisitive toddlers, or (now) trying my best to keep up with speedy pre-teens, who started out-pacing me at the age of 6!
That is why we were delighted to join when a friend invited us to participate in a children’s trail-building day on the Fly Rod Crosby trail in Madrid! Throughout many years of using these trails, we had never done more to help maintain them than move random branches out of the way. The thought of sharing this experience with my kids made me all the more interested.
The Fly Rod Crosby Trail will be a 45-mile hiking trail from Strong, through Phillips and Rangeley, to Oquossoc. It follows the winding Sandy River, Orpington, and Hardy streams and ends at the Outdoor Sporting and Heritage Museum in Oquossoc. This trail was imagined and brought to life by the founders of High Peaks Alliance. It is still being added to and maintained by founding members, new members, and friends of High Peaks Alliance.
The group met at the trailhead on Reeds Mills Road in Madrid. It was easy to find, with plenty of parking for all participants. Kids were provided work gloves, hard hats, safety glasses, and hand tools if they wanted them, and off we went! A favorite pastime for my boys has always been walking through the forest with sticks, the only purpose being the pure joy of the moment. Now that pure joy was focused on a single trail, and there was a goal… clear that trail! We raked, moved logs, sawed branches, and cleared long-forgotten blue plastic tubes used to pipe sap from maple trees to the bottom of the hill—if that doesn’t sound fun, you are probably not a 7-year-old! We all worked for about 2 hours on the 1-mile loop.
The loop is a family-friendly trail with plenty to see and do along the way. It has a mild slope that meanders up and down the hillside and gives access to some of the best of what the Maine forest offers: rocks to scramble on, animals to spy on, and a babbling brook to splash in. We showed up to help out old friends and left having made new ones!
My biggest takeaway from the children’s trail-building day was this: Our family enjoys the High Peaks Region in every season and is always grateful for the many hours of volunteer work that go into building these fantastic trails. Whenever we climb stone steps or cross footbridges, we always say to ourselves, “thank you,” to the countless volunteers who so graciously donate their time to place them there. By donating a few of our precious hours, our family not only had fun but found the work immensely rewarding, giving us a new sense of respect and appreciation for the trails we so often enjoy.
We will happily join the next family trail-building day and hope to see you there, too!
To share your own story about the High Peaks region, check out our submission guidelines here. Or if you’d like to support community days and projects like the Fly Rod Crosby Trail, consider a contribution.