For many of us who tour around Maine on two wheels, the time in the saddle is all about the workout. How hard are you pedaling? How soon do you break a sweat? How many calories are you burning?

But sometimes during these hot and steamy — not that we’re complaining, weather gods — summer days, even the most hardcore cyclist would do well to just take it easy and coast along for fun rather than exercise.

That’s where some of central and southern Maine’s great walking/bicycling trails come in. They provide well-maintained, mostly paved lanes, often alongside bodies of water, where families can glide along in low gear, enjoying the sights and the time together.

Here are a few to check out:

KENNEBEC RIVER RAIL TRAIL

This gem comes highly recommended by everyone who has spent time on it.

It stretches 6.5 miles from Waterfront Park in Augusta through Hallowell and Farmingdale before finding its ending point in Gardiner. The route touches three counties.

Much of the trail is wooded and it runs parallel to the existing rail bed.

Expect to find walkers, families with strollers and rollerbladers in addition to cyclists. Bikers should be aware that some sections are dirt or crushed stone.

As all trails do, this one has several parking options and access points.

In Augusta, park at the Maine State Housing Authority parking lot on Water Street, near the trailhead under Memorial Bridge or at Capitol Park.

In Hallowell park in the municipal lot on Front Street, and in Gardiner park in the Hannaford lot.

Find portable outhouses under Memorial Bridge and at the Capitol Connector in Augusta or at the municipal parking lot in Hallowell.

In addition to the end points, the trail can be accessed at Greenville Street in Hallowell, near Kennebec Bike & Ski in Farmingdale or at Pine Hill Drive, Bowman Street or Sheldon Street, all in Farmingdale.

SOUTH PORTLAND GREENBELT

This trail stretches 5.7 miles from the Wainwright Recreation Complex to Bug Light Park and Spring Point Shoreway. If you’re riding with children be aware of the traffic and several areas where you’ll need to cross busy streets.

The views will make all of that worthwhile. Starting at the Wainwright end, you’ll be riding toward the water and be rewarded with gorgeous views of Portland Harbor from the point at Bug Light.

The Greenbelt is the northern terminus of the Eastern Trail so you can expect it will be well maintained.

You’ll find parking at Bug Light Park, Mill Creek Shopping Center and at the Wainwright Complex, which can be accessed via the Gary Maietta Parkway off Highland Avenue.

During the summer months you’ll find public toilets at Bug Light and Willard Beach.

ANDROSCOGGIN RIVER BICYCLE & PEDESTRIAN PATH

It’s a short route at just 2.63 miles in one direction, but going out and back can be a decent ride with kids in tow.

The path takes users from in-town Brunswick to Cook’s Corner and can also be accessed from Topsham via a lane that runs over the Coastal Connector bridge.

This path is relatively new and it’s very popular with walkers, cyclists and rollerbladers. The route is maintained year-round through Brunswick Parks and Recreation and offers parking options at the Grover Lane end 24 hours a day and at the Water Street end 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.

Much of the path offers great views of the Androscoggin River and it’s a nice, flat ride. You will hear plenty of traffic, however, as the path runs parallel to busy Route 1.

 

Deputy Features Editor Karen Beaudoin can be contacted at 791-6296 or at:

[email protected]