A Long Wait Is Over Thanks to a New Bridge

The long-awaited trail re-route that will re-connect the trails at Cathance River Nature Preserve to Head of Tide Park is officially open!

Shortly before the pandemic, a number of trails in the eastern section of the trail system at the Preserve, including sections of the Cathance River Trail that connects the Preserve to Head of Tide Park, were closed down. This was due to site clearing and construction at what would become the Sycamore Drive Extension neighborhood at Highland Green. This area of trails was located adjacent to the Preserve and on land owned by Central Topsham Associates, the developer of Highland Green and donor of the easement that created the Cathance River Nature Preserve as we know it today. The Land Trust, who holds a conservation easement on the Preserve, manages the trail system in partnership with Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) and Central Topsham Associates. The trail partners have been working hard since the development of Sycamore Drive Extension at Highland Green to lay out trail re-routes that steered hikers away from Sycamore Drive Extension while reconnecting NW and SE segments of the trail system. After countless hours spent trail scouting, many iterations, and significant fundraising, Land Trust and CREA staff and volunteers began clearing and blazing the new section of trail this spring that has accomplished these goals and now become part of the Cathance River Trail.

A crucial component of creating this trail re-route was the installation of a 40-foot long bridge to cross a sizable ravine that drains into the Cathance River, which required the help of professional trail builders. Thanks to funding from both private donors and Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Land Trust was able to enlist the services OBP Trailworks, led by owner Jed Talbot, who worked tirelessly throughout the soggy month of May to construct the spectacular 40-foot-long wooden bridge now in place that was needed to make the trail re-route a reality. Transporting in 40-foot-long steel I-beams as the base of the bridge, along with all of the lumber, hardware, and crushed stone used to create box steps to a staging area on the landing above the ravine was the first of many hurdles for Jed and his crew. This was followed by the crew fabricating the bridge in its entirety before having to completely disassemble it and transport the pieces down a steep slope to its final resting place using a 500-foot long highline. Land Trust staff, volunteers, and videographer Nolan Lyne visited Jed and his crew this spring to see the crew in action.

Check out this video to see the bridge in progress and hear how OBP Trailworks pulled off this engineering feat!

CREA campers enjoying the new bridge

The trail re-route is now open to the public and the Land Trust will continue making trail improvements throughout the summer and fall by installing additional box steps along the new section of trail. Hikers should be advised that it is fairly steep on both sides leading to the new bridge. While visiting the Preserve, please stay on marked trails and be aware that numerous old sections of trail are now permanently closed, including the River Access Trail, portions of the Highland Trail, and portions of the Cathance River Trail. Hiker Parking will also remain permanently closed. To help hikers get oriented to the new trail layout, numerous “You Are Here” maps have been installed along the trail system, and a new kiosk has been installed at the Ecology Center parking area, featuring a map of the new trail configuration and welcoming hikers to the Preserve and the CREA Ecology Center. 

We are delighted that the Cathance River Trail is once more re-connected and invite you to get outside and check out the new bridge! Click here to view the new trail system map.