ELLSWORTH — Area residents and visitors are putting to good use new trails in the Branch Lake Public Forest and the trail system is expected to grow.
A Maine Conservation Corps work crew last summer built 1.4 miles of trail on 239 acres the city owns on Branch Lake.
The property is located off the Bangor Road, just after the sign for Phillips Farms. Visitors drive 1.1 miles up the access road until they reach the gate. A parking area is located to the left.
“We’ve received incredibly positive comments,” City Planner Michele Gagnon said.
The constructed trails are the Lake Loop, which is just over a mile and offers lake views, and the less-than-half-mile Pine Path.
Gagnon’s proposed budget includes funding to hire another Conservation Corps crew to expand the trails this summer.
“They just really did a good job for us,” she said.
Adding another two trail miles this season would be ideal, she said, but the extent of the work will depend on the difficulty of the terrain.
To access the current trails, hikers walk from the parking lot about half a mile down a tote road.
The property is designated for daytime, non-intensive outdoor public recreation under a conservation easement with the Frenchman Bay Conservancy.
Allowed uses include hiking, jogging, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking and horseback riding (on designated trails).
Motorized vehicles are not allowed past the gate.