During the first full week of October, I decided to visit the new Passy Rail Trail. The trail was originally the railroad line for the Belfast & Moosehead Railroad, which I remembered ran tourist excursions from downtown Belfast back in the 1990s. The railroad stopped running in 2004, tracks were removed and the area is now occupied by the Front Street Ship Yard, where a pedestrian walkway allows visitors a nice stroll by the waterfront. Railroad operations continue at City Point Station, further out of town. Since 2010, the city of Belfast and the Coastal Mountains Land Trust have been working to create a multi-use trail that runs from the downtown area to City Point Station.
On this particular day, I could find no clearly marked designation for the trailhead at the old Upper Bridge Station and drove by, not only that parking area but past the City Point Station as well. The problem with the City Point Station was the “No Trespassing” sign. After turning around and locating the parking area, two people putting up a campaign goal sign for the trail informed me that I could have ignored the sign and parked there anyway. At that point, I was delighted to have found the trail and started on my way.
The first thing I wanted to study was the remaining flora around the trail. Goldenrod and Queen Anne’s Lace had gone to seed and the Purple Aster had the darker hue of a plant that was trying desperately to still hold on to its late summer glory. Nearby ferns were arrayed in a rich golden brown. I was surprised to see the cheerful yellow blossom of the flower known as Butter and Eggs, its color reminiscent of warmer days. Done with this quest, I continued down the trail.
The trail stayed close to the Passagassawakeag River (hence the name Passy Trail) providing plenty of water views. The water was quite still and I admired the picture perfect images of trees and birds reflecting back from it. I watched gulls, cormorants, and other waterfowl soar above then land with a splash in the river. Three gulls sat on a spit of land, their images reflected in the still water below. On my way towards the City Point Station I watched a cormorant balanced on a red buoy. I was amused that he was still there on my return journey.
The path itself, consisted of the large, rough gravel that typically makes up a rail bed. Great for trains but a little difficult for walking. I believe that future plans are to lay down a finer compound in order to truly make this a multi-use trail. During my walk, I found reminders of the old railroad; a whistle sign, a railroad crossing blinker and the occasional smell of creosote from the old railroad ties lying near the trail. It wasn’t long before I reached the City Point Station, and, as if to prove the point that this was still a viable railroad I heard the whistle of that train waiting at the station.
On my return journey, I continued past the parking area to explore the undeveloped section of the trail that headed towards town. I paused under Route 1, stopped by an overgrown area and a fence bearing an ominous sign. I thought the trail would connect to the Memorial Bridge and the pedestrian walkway to the downtown area and considering the sign, I hesitated to explore any further. I decided that this was enough exploring for one day and returned back to the Upper Bridge parking area.