Scott McAdoo, left, and Peter Garrett, right, stand at the trail head to the Kennebec River Trail on Wednesday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — Using recreational trails is an excellent way to get outdoors and be physically active, local advocates say, but for some the fear of unleashed dogs roaming these trails can detract from their interest.

To address these concerns, the group Kennebec Messalonskee Trails plans on highlighting dogs and trails this year at their National Trails Day event Saturday. The event starts at 10 a.m., as group volunteers gather at the East Kennebec Trail and vendors set up until noon with displays, trail information, trail walks and a raffle prize-drawing.

Since the focus of the event this year is to educate people on dogs and their involvement on the trails, this is a pet-friendly event. However, any dogs in attendance must be leashed, and the leash must be 6 feet or less in length.

“People like to walk their dogs on our trails,” said Peter Garrett, a Winslow resident who is the founder of Kennebec Messalonskee Trails. “Yet there are some pointers we’d like to make about keeping dogs leashed, because some trail users are frankly scared of dogs, and some have said, ‘Sorry, I love your trails, but I don’t feel safe with unleashed dogs.'”

Kennebec Messalonskee Trails is a volunteer nonprofit incorporated in 2003 that encourages the public to use the trails and to keep them in good shape. The group is led by a board, under president Scott McAdoo.

According to the most current map of the trails that was published in 2014, 18 trails make up the entirety of Kennebec Messalonskee Trails system.

The more than 40 miles of trails span across Waterville, Oakland, Fairfield, Benton and Winslow. In order for the trails to continue being functional, there are collaborative efforts between the communities, colleges, hospitals and others to maintain access to the trail system.

“More trails are on their way. I suspect we are closer to 50 miles, which is huge for this community,” Garrett said.

Garret, who is from England, was inspired to create the KMTrails in the greater Waterville area due to having seen so many trails across the English countryside.

“When I came to Waterville, I saw the beautiful riverside and people don’t really know these rivers, except where they cross them,” said Garrett. “The idea was to have some sort of wilderness easily accessible to anyone in the area.”

Messalonskee Stream Trail, one of the more popular trails, was not even in the original plans, but after walking through there, Garrett included it.

Scott McAdoo, left, and Peter Garrett, right, stand Wednesday at the trail head to the Kennebec River Trail in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Initially, Garrett applied for funding from the Department of Transportation along with efforts of volunteers, but then the project “took off on its own.”

Anyone who wants more information on Saturday’s event, which organizers say will follow CDC pandemic guidelines, can call 207-873-6443 or email [email protected]

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