New trails to explore
Located just yards from campus between Quarry Road and the Messalonskee Stream, the scenic 120-acre Quarry Road Recreation Area contains a network of running, biking and cross-country skiing trails that offer a fun and convenient way for students and Waterville residents to explore the outdoors.
According to a 2008 statement by the Quarry Road Recreation Area’s organizing committee, the area’s goal is “to reinvigorate a tradition of winter recreation in Mid-Maine that has all but disappeared.” The trails will “enable people from all walks of life to enjoy the health benefits of the outdoors in an easily accessible area of natural beauty” during every season as well.
The Quarry Road Recreation Area opened at the end of 2009 for Nordic skiing and in the summer of 2010 for mountain biking and hiking, but the expansion and development of the recreation area is not completely a new idea.
The land on which it is located and the 300-foot hill adjacent to it were used as a ski area in the past. According to the area’s website, “beginning in the 1930’s with a rope tow, the hill was closed during World War II, then re-opened by veterans and the Colby Outing Club (COC) in the late 40’s. It was a popular spot again in the late 60s/early 70s when operated by Colby College as a lighted ski area with limited snowmaking.”
Though the COC is not especially involved in the newest development of the recreation area, “We do help them as they need,” COC co-president Emma Gross ’12 said. “Last year, the COC ran a snowshoe race for their winter carnival. I wasn’t there, but I’ve been told it was a big hit.”
The winter carnival is an annual event that takes place in February and features ski instruction, snowshoe races, biking and biathlon demos, sledding, food and drinks. The Quarry Road Recreation Area has also hosted other events such as a women’s ski group, a mountain bike festival and educational nature workshops throughout the year.
“COC members [also] use the area individually for running, skiing and snowshoeing,” Gross said. “I’ve been out there a number of times and have always enjoyed it. It’s a great system of trails.” The Quarry Road Recreation Area is maintained and operated by the Waterville Parks and Recreation Department. It also received technical support from volunteers from the Central Maine Ski Club, Maine Winter Sports Center, the New England Nordic Ski Association and the College. Additionally, the College’s Nordic Ski Coach, Tracey Cote, is on the Friends of Quarry Road Board of Directors, a group dedicated to the development of the complex.
Funding for the project stems from both public and private donations. The group is currently accepting donations for their next phase, which “includes purchase of additional land, expansion of trail system for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking, road and parking expansion, bringing electricity to the area, limited snowmaking and the building of a multipurpose lodge.”
Although the Quarry Road Recreation Area is currently open for use, new developments are also underway. A statement on the area’s website predicts that more trails will open next winter, as the area has recently acquired an additional 90 acres of beautiful land that will soon be converted into an additional seven-and-a-half kilometers of tail and provide further incentive to utilize this invaluable local resource.