AUGUSTA — Activities at the Bond Brook Recreation Area are expanding as the trails themselves continue to grow.

The 268-acre plot of land located near Bond Brook in the heart of the city has been in use for more than a year. Last winter, a Nordic ski race drew competitors from throughout New England while this summer a series of 5-kilometer trail races are planned.

The races will be held Thursday evenings at 6 p.m. in August and September. Races will be held Aug. 11, Aug. 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, Sept. 8 and Sept. 15. There is a $5 fee for each race or $25 for all six.

“There’s not much of that going on right now,” said Mike Seitzinger, president of Augusta Trails. “We don’t have any off-road running races in central Maine. It’s such a big thing in the southern part of the state.”

Those who compete in four or more races will be eligible for overall awards. The best four times will determine final placement. Those interested in competing should contact Karen Gross at [email protected] or call 485-1131.

Seitzinger said mountain bike races are in the BBRA’s future. Owned by the city, the trails will eventually run for 17 miles. More than half of those are completed while a third of the Nordic trails are left to be finished.

“We want to add single track mountain bike and hiking trails,” Seitzinger said. “We hope to finish most of our trails this year.”

The area has been invited by the New England Nordic Association to host an Eastern Cup race on Jan. 14 which involve a minimum of 250 skiers. It’s hoped by that time that an access road from Bond Brook Road to the stadium area will be completed. Most users of the area currently enter from a road at the end of Mt. Hope Cemetery near the Augusta Airport.

Signage and a kiosk are also part of the immediate plans to the area while a lodge and snowmaking capability are in long-range plans. Also on the agenda is a hiking-only trail along Bond Brook, which could be created by next year. Additionally, Bond Brook would like to host a winter triathlon which would include mountain biking, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing.

Augusta Trails is a non-profit organization that has signed a contract with the city. The group not only oversees the Bond Brook area but also serves as a liaison with other groups in the city and surrounding area, including Viles Arboretum, Kennebec River Rail Trail, Augusta Nature Trails, Augusta Greenway and the University of Maine at Augusta.

Seitzinger said there are talks going on between several of those groups to eventually link their trails.

“We’re talking with UMA,” he said. “Creating a connector trail between UMA and Bond Brook would be a very positive thing. It’s a very easy thing to do. We hope to have it before winter.”

Also under way is a connector trail between the Augusta Greenway, which runs along the east side of the Kennebec starting at the boat landing, and the Viles Arboretum on Hospital Street. A grant has been applied for to improve and link trails behind Farrington School to those behind Cony High School.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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