The Kennebec Land Trust, along with the cities of Augusta and Hallowell, is working to widen access to the recreation and conservation area through its Universally Accessible Trail Project. Carey Kish photo

AUGUSTA — While it’s still more than a year away, Enock Glidden is watching a project that’s expected to bring universal access to Augusta’s Howard Hill.

After years of discussions, officials in Hallowell, Augusta and the Kennebec Land Trust  are working to make the conservation and recreation area just west of the state capital complex more widely accessible to people with disabilities.

“From the Kennebec Land Trust’s perspective, it’s the property closest to the population centers in the area,” said Theresa Kerchner, land trust president. “So, if we are going to put time and resources into developing a trail, Howard Hill makes the most sense in terms of how many people will benefit from it.”

Spanning 164 acres, Howard Hill offers forested open space with a stream and a ridgeline with cliffs, bordered by developed areas in Augusta and Hallowell. Residents often walk the network of old carriage roads through the hill to experience the scenic view of the Kennebec River or the State House building nestled amid an expansive shade of green.

Enock Glidden, who lives in Bethel, is one of the many who is keeping an eye on the development.

“It’s a great location. It’s perfect, being close to the residential area, people can easily get to it,” Glidden said. “It is an ideal place for accessible trails because there are not a lot of outdoor places that people with (a) disability can go.”


Glidden, now 45, was 4 when he got his first wheelchair. He was born with Spina bifida, a neural tube defect that damages the spinal cord and nerves.

Outdoors is his preference and he attributes his love for adventures to Bob Dyer, his late junior high physical education teacher who he said continues to inspire him. He has taken up wheelchair racing, skiing and rock climbing as hobbies.

“(Dyer) was ahead of the curve because not many people at the time thought doing these things were possible,” he said.

Now, Glidden likes trails that are not entirely accessible because they offer more challenges. But, he said, making more trails universally accessible around the state is important.

“It’s very frustrating for people when they go to a trail and they can’t make the most of it and can’t do what they came to do,” he said. “They are not able to experience it fully because of certain barriers.”

Glidden is featured in the video promoting the land trust’s Universally Accessible Trail Project.


Kerchner said the project is ambitious, and although financial projections have not been done yet, it is currently estimated to cost $500,000, which will come from fundraising, through both donations and grants.

Howard Hill was acquired by Kennebec Land Trust in 2015 and then given to the city of Augusta. The organization gave the land with a conservation easement attached requiring the land to remain undeveloped in the hope of preserving it. Though Augusta owns the land, KLT continues to handle the stewardship.

Earl Kingsbury, the director of community services for the city of Augusta, said the the city will be working collaboratively with KLT and Hallowell officials to develop the trail.

“The next thing I will be working on, over the next year and a half, will be creating some parking up there, and it will be part of our Capital Improvement Project,” Kingsbury said. “I know we need parking; there’s no way to get off the street. And the parking has been designed, so we just have to be able to put it together, and then we can build upon the trail system we have.”

Enock Glidden, whose blog encourages people of all abilities to enjoy the outdoors, is featured in a video supporting the Kennebec Land Trust’s Universally Accessible Trail Project. Courtesy Dave Dostie

Glidden, in a recent interview, said he is keeping an eye on its progress as projects promoting universal accessibility are rare. For people with disabilities, lack of information and lack of transportation are major barriers to accessing the outdoors.

Glidden recounts his adventures in his blog,, where he writes about skydiving, traversing trails, playing basketball and paragliding. He said he hopes to visit Howard Hill once the work is finished and blog about that, too.


“When you get out in the nature,” Glidden said, “it improves physical and mental health and everything about your life, really.”

With the project on the horizon, Glidden hopes many will follow suit.

“Municipalities and organizations can do more in terms of improving accessibility outdoors. There are many programs and grants out there that can help. Whether it’s constructing new trails or improving the ones we already have,” Glidden said. “If we can make our trails accessible, it will go a long way in making Maine more accessible.”

It is a trend that has become noticeable in discussions amongst those committed to preserving the natural aspect of central Maine, Kerchner said.

“I think now it’s definitely a goal we talk about more,” she said. “Compared to when I started 20 years ago, it is now a much more common theme that people discuss and want to act on.”

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