In September 2016 trail volunteers completed the last section of the 47-mile footpath linking Unity Village with City Point in Belfast where the languid Passagassawakeag River enters Belfast Harbor. Across the street from the Hills to Sea Trailhead is the northeast terminus of the Belfast Rail Trail. This crushed-stone, multi-use trail winds southeast for 2.3 miles to the bustling waterfront in downtown Belfast. The Hills to Sea Trail is made possible by the generosity and participation of more than 60 private landowners who allowed the trail to be built across their lands.
In 2011 a group of volunteers from nine Midcoast nonprofits met and began planning. Early on the group successfully applied to the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and received professional guidance during the planning and for much of the development of the trail. This assistance is available to groups and organizations interested in developing trails for their community. We worked with park service employees Burnham Martin and Julie Isbill, who with warmth and wisdom shepherded us through the many challenges of this unwieldy project.
The trail crosses nearly 7,000 acres of conserved lands but more than 30 miles of the trail is on privately owned lands.
Handshake agreements and clear parameters with landowners are the cornerstones of the trail’s existence. Landowners maintain complete control over what takes place on their land, and in some cases use guidelines must be honored. Temporary trail closures, mostly related to hunting seasons, are in place in several locations during fall months. The last closure ends on Dec 31. Dogs are allowed on most of the trail but must be kept under control; dogs are not allowed in a few locations. The long-term success of this unique partnership depends on the responsible participation of all trail users.
The middle section of the Hills to Sea Trail uses an existing 28 – mile footpath network in Montville. These network trails have names and in some cases are marked with different colored paint blazes. The trails used in this network for the Hills to Sea Trail are identified as the “Hills to Sea Route.”
Click here for a more complete description of parts of the trail.
Click here for accomodations along the trail.
If you would like to be involved with this exciting project or contribute financial support for the long-term stewardship of the trail, please contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.