CAMDEN — Darby Urey used to work for a law firm in Portland until he and his wife got tired of driving to Camden to hike, ski and mountain bike.

“We loved Portland but we had friends up this way. Every time we came up we’d explore the coast, the mountains and lakes,” Urey said. “It was a lifestyle change. The outdoors was just more accessible. We left Scarborough four years ago.”

Urey is now a board member of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, which is closing in on its longtime goal of building a Round the Mountain Trail on Ragged Mountain in Camden. In June, the trust entered into a purchase agreement with Maine Water Company to acquire two easements totaling 1,400 acres.

The easements will make possible a 9-mile trail – for use by Nordic skiers, mountain bikers and hikers – that will reach around the mountain.

Ian Stewart, executive director of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, bikes on what will soon be the Round the Mountain trail at Ragged Mountain in Camden.

Ian Stewart, executive director of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, bikes on what will soon be the Round the Mountain trail at Ragged Mountain in Camden. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Today on Ragged Mountain, there are 15 miles of trails on adjoining land owned by the Camden Snow Bowl and the land trust – although just 2.5 miles constitute what will become the Round the Mountain Trail. Construction of the trail is expected to begin in two years and be completed by the fall of 2020.

Maine Water agreed to sell the easement to prevent future development around Mirror Lake and Grassy Pond, which provide drinking water to six communities.

While some sections of the current trail system around Ragged Mountain are suitable for beginners, the expanded system is expected to have more terrain available for new riders. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

While some sections of the current trail system around Ragged Mountain are suitable for beginners, the expanded system is expected to have more terrain available for new riders. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“It’s been my vision for many years to protect those mountains, what I call friendly mountains that are easily accessible and easy to climb, and have wonderful vistas from the top,” said Judy Wallingford, president of Maine Water. “I’ve dragged my kids to the top of those mountains. It’s a unique and wonderful area.”

Maine Water will donate $200,000 toward construction of the Round the Mountain Trail. The utility also will allow the easement to include spurs off the main trail, Wallingford said.

The land trust needs to purchase the nearly 855-acre easement around Mirror Lake by the end of 2017, and the 550 acres around Grassy Pond by the end of 2019. More than $1 million of the $4.2 million needed to buy the easements has been raised by Coastal Mountains Land Trust and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

The 1,400-acre easement is part of a 3,500-acre swath that Coastal Mountains Land Trust hopes to conserve. So far, half of that land has been protected. The easement will secure a total of 85 percent of the land that includes Ragged and Bald mountains, said Ian Stewart, the trust’s executive director.

Darby Urey bikes across a trail at Camden Snow Bowl, part of a mountain biking trail network being developed around Ragged Mountain. Plans call for a nine-mile trail around the mountain.

Darby Urey bikes across a trail at Camden Snow Bowl, part of a mountain biking trail network being developed around Ragged Mountain. Plans call for a 9-mile trail around the mountain. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The new trail system will more than double the trails in the region that exist for mountain biking, said John Anders, president of the Midcoast chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association.

“We’ve been waiting for this for well over five years,” Anders said. “We’d like one beginner loop, one intermediate loop and a more technical loop with single-track opportunities.”

While the south side of Ragged Mountain around the Snow Bowl offers some 15 miles of mountain bike trails, it’s steep and rugged in places. The north side, where the easement is located, has more gradual sloping terrain.

“It’s more conducive to trails that are better suited to beginner riders. We’re excited,” Anders said.

Earlier this month, Stewart rode some of the trails with Urey. They had to rest after the first quarter-mile up the Snow Bowl at the top of a steep pitch. Stewart, who doesn’t typically ride a mountain bike, learned to climb leaning over his handlebars. He navigated the narrow, windy single-track sections that went into the ski area’s glades and over snowmaking pipes.

Darby Urey, a Coastal Mountain Land Trust board member, used to make regular trips from Scarborough to Camden for mountain biking, hiking and skiing, until he and his wife decided to move to the area.

Darby Urey, a Coastal Mountain Land Trust board member, used to make regular trips from Scarborough to Camden for mountain biking, hiking and skiing, until he and his wife decided to move to the area. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The existing portion of the Round the Mountain Trail corridor is a lush, forested trail over bridges and creeks, and along a mountainside that’s free of the din of Route 1 traffic. There is a spur trail – Five Brooks – that makes a 5-mile loop through the forest.

Urey said the area is rich with wildlife.

“My son just saw a deer. Someone saw a fox earlier in the week and someone saw a bear,” he said.

Anders said in the past three years mountain biking in the region has grown significantly.

“There was a day you recognized every car in the (Snow Bowl) parking lot and knew every face on the trail. At least I did. Now people are coming from everywhere. We just released a map this spring and there is a lot more activity,” Anders said. “The youth series on Monday night has exploded. We’ve had 40 to 50 kids on our best days. The parents are coming out, too.”