Overlook Trail to mark first phase of Waterfront to Wilderness Trail in Rockland

Tue, 07/13/2021 - 7:15pm

    ROCKLAND – A 2017 idea to create a trail connecting Rockland’s harbor to a parcel of land known as the Bog may soon see its first completed trail segment, the Bog Overlook Trail.

    Rockland’s Public Works department is contributing labor and equipment for a small parking lot of six spaces off of Bog Road, near Mountain Road. Georges River Land Trust has offered to loan trail equipment. A permit application is in process for a small bridge over a narrow stream, and a parking lot sign and kiosk will soon promote the map that is being created for an estimated third-of-a-mile footpath into the woods on city land.

    The reward for the short hike is a stunning view, according to Waterfront to Wilderness Trail committee member Kate Doiron, who spent the past year hunting as many as 10 potential trail sites with the other members.

    “This amazing example – undeveloped natural landscape – it’s beautiful,” she said during a July 12 City Council meeting. “Lots of rare and sensitive bog plants and animals, birds nesting up there that don’t nest anywhere else in this area.”

    Georges Highland Path, from Thomaston, has an entrance to the bog just past downtown. Another entrance allows access from Route 90, in Rockland. But the Overlook Trail will be the first access point from the east side of the wildlands.

    The trail is starting with short steps, yet the potential for future growth lengthens in strides. Former and current GRLT members have offered visions of connecting to the Georges Highland Path, on the north side of the bog, and continuing on from there.

    “There’s a lot of hiking opportunities in the area,” said Doiron. “But I think if folks are into hiking, you know you are always leaving the city to go to those places. So it would be kind of cool to have more hiking opportunities inside the city.”

    Or walking, or biking.

    To get to the Bog, the Overlook Trail is one of five segments making up the envisioned Waterfront to Wilderness Trail that the Rockland Conservation Commission approved in 2018, which then established the W-to-W subcommittee of the Parks and Recs Committee.

    “We are thinking that the trail would start at the ferry terminal…. and then continues across and through the city, so you are kind of gaining elevation and going into an entirely different ecosystem. Going from the harbor up to the bog,” she said.

    After attempting to create the entire trail at once, the committee decided to focus on segments, leading to a new dilemma: Which end to start with?

    The harbor end, at the ferry terminal, would have encompassed sidewalks going to the high school and then on to the ballfield off of Old County Road.

    Instead, the committee decided to focus on the Bog end.

    “Because if we had a developed trail, it’s like a destination,” she said. “Then you’ve got a place you’re trying to get to.”

    A Department of Environmental Protection permit is required for the stream crossing, with an approximately $250 application fee.

    The trail and bridge materials are estimated $300-400 for trail-clearing equipment, but GRLT will let the committee borrow the items. Kiosk and sign materials are estimated at $300-400. Volunteers are being sought for trail building.

    The committee is looking at around $1,000 for the trail itself. The committee will then try to get materials donated, or get grant funding for the parking lot.

    On Monday, July 12, Rockland City Council authorized the transfer of $1,000 from the Parks and Rec reserve account to the Waterfront to Wilderness Trail Committee. The reserve account currently has approximately $28,000.

    “I’m just very excited to see this project moving forward and to having some concrete steps taken,” said Council member Sarah Austin. “And I hope that very soon we will be able to have a lot more folks out there to enjoy something that belongs to us already but is a little bit hard to access at the moment.”


    Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com