BikeMaine 2014: Pedaling the Waterways

2014 Route Information

WESTBROOK

BikeMaine 2014 began in Westbrook, a city sitting in the heart of Southern Maine, long known as the gateway leading from Portland’s Casco Bay area to the Lakes Region of Western Maine.

Named after Colonel Thomas Westbrook who came to Maine in 1727, the City of Westbrook honors its founder on its official seal, which depicts a ship representing Colonel Westbrook’s journey from New Hampshire to Maine. A historically rich settlement, Westbrook became a town in 1814 and a city in 1891.

The Presumpscot River runs through the center of the city and features two prominent falls, Saccarappa and Congin. No longer used as power sources, the river is now being re-purposed through development of kayaking and paddle board programs at Riverbank Park. Westbrook is part of the Sebago to the Sea Trail and Portland Trails and is proud to have their River Walk featured by those organizations.

Westbrook to Norway Route Description

“Cycling Sebago Lake’s Watershed”– The route starts on the Presumpscot River, the route heads out of Westbrook in grand fashion and eventually onto the Mountain Division Trail. After leaving the trail, the route heads north, tracing the western and northern shore of the state’s second largest lake, Sebago. The rolling terrain makes for some inspiring cycling. After crossing over the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, the route hugs the shore of Pleasant Lake with occasional views of the White Mountains to the west. Gaining elevation as the route heads towards Otisfield, the reward is a wonderful descent to the shore of Pennesseewassee Lake on into Norway.

Mileage: 58.8 miles

Elevation: 2,791 feet

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NORWAY

This scenic village of about 5,000 residents was designated a “Main Street Maine” community in 2002 in honor of its character and historic assets, and the potential to build a thriving downtown upon these virtues. The village has been a hub for the area for centuries, as farmers came to trade their goods on Main Street and supply a local cannery.

Known for much of the early 20th century as the “Snowshoe Capital of the World,” Norway was put on the map when snowshoes made by local hero Mellie Dunham made their way to the North Pole with the Peary expedition of 1909. The snowshoe industry thrived here during WWII due to government contracts. Dunham went on to become one of the country’s foremost fiddlers and his legacy is celebrated to this day. The historic architecture that now defines Norway is a testament to the Great Fire of 1894. After most of the town burned, it was quickly reconstructed in the latest brick and wood styles of the day. According to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, Norway’s buildings include some of the best examples of period architecture to be found in Maine, resulting in its designation as an official state Historic District.

Norway to Winthrop Center Route Description

“Over the Rivers and Through the Woods”– The section of the route heads almost directly east from Norway, with the majority of the day’s climbing occurring in the first ten miles. The highlight of the section comes early as the route visits the historic village of Paris Hill, a true gem of a time gone by.  Then a climb up and over Hedgehog Hill followed by a rewarding descent into Buckfield. The route levels off and meanders along the Nezinscott River through picturesque towns, including Turner. Crossing the pastoral Androscoggin River between Howes Corner and North Leeds, then head south to Leeds with several scenic vistas along the way.  Head southeast to Monmouth, the home of the delightful Cumston Hall. The route rounds Annabessacook Lake and, after crossing Narrows Pond, tackle one last uphill climb to the YMCA Camp of Maine on Cobbosseecontee Lake.

Mileage: 53.7 miles

Elevation: 3,002 feet

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WINTHROP- YMCA Camp of Maine

Founded in 1915, the YMCA Camp of Maine is located on the north side of Cobbosseecontee Lake in Winthrop, and consists of over 160 acres and three islands, one of which is 14 acres in size. The camp serves children ages 8-15, housing 110 girls and 110 boys per session. Children can select from more than 50 different programs, including classics such as archery, nature study and swim lessons, and talent skits. Summer campers hail from Maine, most of the other fifty states and from around the world.

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Winthrop Center to Gardiner Route Description

“Cycling Maine’s Golden Pond”– This route heads north from Winthrop Center along Maranacook Lake passing traditional camps along the way before riding through rural Readfield on quiet country roads. Travel through the famous Belgrade Lakes region (the inspiration for “On Golden Pond”) and around Messalonskee Lake into Oakland. Travel due east until reaching the River Road and then travel downriver into Maine’s capital city, Augusta, where the route picks up the Kennebec River Rail Trail. The trail will provide a gentle way to end this section. Pass through quaint Hallowell before bringing ending up at Gardiner’s Waterfront Park.

Mileage: 57 miles

Elevation: 4,336 feet

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GARDINER

The City of Gardiner’s identity has always been influenced by its relationship to the Kennebec River. From the Bandstand on the Common to the Library dating to 1881, visiting Gardiner is like taking a step back in time. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and author Laura E. Richards both hail from here. Their works, created in Gardiner’s golden age of industry, reflect the mill town’s grace, grit and character. Around the year 2000, Amy, a Gardiner mother of two, started the now famous Wicked Whoopie Pie Company. Begun in her kitchen, the company quickly outgrew its home-based setting and now WWP boasts two large bakeshops and bakes over 20 different varieties of Whoopie Pies, shipped worldwide.  The company has won numerous awards and was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Gardiner to Boothbay Harbor Route Description

“Downriver to the Sea”– The ride begins by crossing the Kennebec River to Randolph, before turning south to Pittston and then Dresden Mills. Head northeast up and over Blinn Hill to East Pittston and North Whitefield., then turn south onto Townhouse Road and stop for a snack at the Sheepscot General Store. You’ll cycle through rich farmland until reaching the beautiful West Branch of the Sheepscot River. Follow the west bank of the meandering Sheepscot, crossing to the east side of the river in Lincoln County’s historic Head Tide Village. At the southern tip of Damariscotta Lake, the route travels through Damariscotta Mills, home of the state’s oldest and most productive alewife fishery and where the Damariscotta River turns salty. Tracing the Damariscotta River down to Newcastle, keep the river to the east as you travel down the Boothbay Peninsula to the lovely village of Boothbay Harbor, the heart of mid-coast Maine.

Mileage: 58.2 miles

Elevation: 3,774 feet

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BOOTHBAY HARBOR

For over a century the Boothbay Harbor region has been a favorite destination of travelers longing to relax and enjoy the “rock bound coast of Maine” from land and sea. With its “snug as a booth” harbor, long peninsula, and numerous islands, the region is renowned for its natural beauty and boating pleasures. Historically an active harbor, and today, still a bustling place, Boothbay Harbor retains all the charm and rich heritage of a maritime New England village – white clapboard homes, numerous specialty shops, galleries, boatyards, and marinas dot the Harbor’s rocky shoreline.

Boothbay Harbor boasts the largest fleet of excursion boats on the coast for viewing lighthouses, seals, islands, whales, puffins, and the spectacular foliage in fall. Visit the Historical Society in Boothbay Harbor and the Museum in Southport to learn about ice cutting and shipbuilding in days gone by go by or check out the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, one of the top ten public gardens in the nation.

Boothbay Harbor to Bath Route Description

“Bridging the Estuaries”– This section starts with a loop around many of the bays surrounding the west side of the Boothbay Peninsula and leading upstream along the Back and Cross Rivers. Although you must ride a few miles on busy Route 27, you’ll soon be back on quiet roads with stunning views of the Sheepscot River, none lovelier than those seen from Fort Edgecomb. Retracing the route around The Eddy; make a short jog south on Route 27, then head north on country roads to Sheepscot. Head west through rural Lincoln County until coming to the east side of the Kennebec River across from Richmond. Follow the river south, and continuing on to Bath with great views of the river and Merrymeeting Bay along the way.

Mileage: 60.9 miles

Elevation: 3,769 feet

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BATH

Incorporated in 1847, the city is nestled along the west side of a navigable, straight, 5-mile stretch of the Kennebec River, a site that has proven to be ideal for shipbuilding for more than 200 years. At the height of US commercial shipbuilding, more ships were built in Maine than in any other state, and more of those ships were built in Bath than anywhere in Maine. Long known as the “City of Ships”, Bath’s shipbuilding history can be seen in everything from its historic waterfront downtown, where wharves once lined the Kennebec River, to Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum. The looming cranes of the Bath Iron Works, where naval destroyers are still built today, punctuate the Bath skyline.

Browse the historic markers at Waterfront Park, or take a self-guided architectural walking tour along north Washington Street, and you will quickly see why Bath was named a National Trust “Distinctive Destination”.

Bath to Westbrook Route Description

“Bays, Beans, and Goodbyes”– Riding puts you on the Androscoggin Bike Path from Bath to Brunswick, where once again you will be following the Androscoggin River. You will ride through downtown Brunswick, past Bowdoin College, and then back onto quiet roads through lovely Pennellville to Maquoit Bay. Ride into Freeport, home of our founding sponsor L.L.Bean. We’ll skirt downtown Freeport, instead passing through Porter’s Landing and South Freeport before turning inland to Yarmouth and Falmouth, and to the top of Blackstrap Road.  From here it’s a steady descent to the Presumpscot River and the finish in Westbrook.

Mileage: 53.6 miles

Elevation: 2,225 feet

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