Cycling the Rail Trail

On Sunday, I drove to Augusta with my bicycle in the back of my Jeep.  Navigating the capitol city’s roundabouts twice or thrice, I parked at the Kennebec Valley YMCA and asked a friendly runner “which way to the Kennebec River Rail Trail?”

Heeding his advice about the “on ramp’s” steep decline, I pedaled forth.

The Kennebec River Rail Trail (KRRT) is a 6.5-mile paved route extending from Augusta to Gardiner.   Founded in 2001, the $4.5 million-dollar project will be complete this summer when construction crews finish work at the Augusta trailhead located in the city’s waterfront park.

Paved trails are popular.  I have one in my backyard and I enjoy walking or cycling there from time to time.  Such enormous publicly funded projects provide peaceful places for citizens to escape an imperfect world.

I pedaled the entire length of the KRRT.  The beginning of the trail passes the Greater Augusta Utility District’s wastewater treatment facility and the smell might discourage the more sensitive fitness seekers.  Growing up in a family that enjoyed making and eating fermented cabbage, aka sauerkraut, I was not offended.  Alas, if you are a person who is in denial about the reality that sh*t does stink, I would suggest you begin your KRRT journey in Gardiner and turn around just shy of the one-mile markers approaching Augusta.

There is currently downtown road construction in Hallowell and that caused some confusion along the route.  I may have been trespassing through the Water Street parking lots; I’m not sure.

I assumed I would be able to access Webber’s Ice Cream stand in Farmingdale; my assumption was incorrect.  Webber’s is closed.  The owners retired in 2016, so says the internet.

The trail featured the work of a talented graffiti artist on the Gardiner approach.

The KRRT website provides a sparse paragraph about the Kennebec River’s illustrious history.  As I pedaled along, I tried to visualize Benedict Arnold and his soldiers navigating the currents on their way to Quebec that cold 1775 winter.  I searched for the ghost of Edwin Arlington Robinson glancing darkly at the river along the Gardiner banks before he penned a cynical poem.  Did I spy Marjorie Holbrook Standish walking to the Gardiner post office to mail her copy to the Maine Sunday Telegram?

I liked the KRRT well enough, and I would like it more if I lived in Augusta, Hallowell, or Gardiner.  I hope the citizens of those communities utilize this trail to the greatest possible extent.  Meanwhile, I’ll confine myself to my own community’s walking path.

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