Kennebec Messalonskee Trails has been conducting community walks on first weekend in June to celebrate National Trails Day since 2000. But this year, the organization wanted the walk to send a message.

Peter Garrett, past president of group and board members said the goal of the walk is to bring people together, to put aside their differences – whether they be political, religious or social – and talk to each other.

“There seems to be deep divisions in the country,” Garrett said.

The free event will start at the Fairfield Community Center on Water Street at 9 a.m. Saturday, rain or shine. From there, walkers will cross the Route 139 bridge and continue down Crummett Street to the Rotary Centennial Trail.

Garrett said it’s impossible to escape discussions of the country’s divisiveness.

Garrett said the idea for the theme “came out of the blue.”

In past years, Garrett said the event has drawn from around 50 to hundreds of people.

All told, Garrett said there are about 40 miles of trails in the Kennebec Messalonskee system, though they aren’t all connected. He said that was part of the beauty of the system, that it was made up of a number of small pieces that would be appealing, but overall the network was “enormous.”

Garrett launched construction of the $4 million system over a decade ago. The system is made up of trails in Waterville, Benton, Oakland, Winslow and Fairfield.

Saturday’s walk will be wheelchair accessible, Garrett said. While the granite steps leading up the Rotary Centennial Trail in Benton aren’t accessible, Garrett said there are two places for those in wheelchairs to join. The first is at the Asher Farms Mobile Home Park in Benton, and the other is the East Kennebec Trail in Winslow. The total length of the walk is 2 miles each way.

“It’s a nice walk, a nice chance to chat with people you do and don’t know,” Garrett said.

Also on Saturday, Friends of Quarry Road will celebrate National Trails Day with the official opening of the Susan Childs Boat Launch and a barbecue at Quarry Road Recreation Area in Waterville. People are encouraged to bring boats and use them on Messalonskee Stream, or walk or ride bikes on the trails.

Friends of Quarry Road is a nonprofit organization that works with the city of Waterville to help oversee and maintain the recreation area, which is city-owned. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and admission is free, although donations will be accepted to support trails.

The barbecue is at 11 a.m. and is free and open to the public. The recreation area is off Quarry Road, which is off North Street in Waterville. For more information, call the Waterville Parks and Recreation Department at 680-4744 or visit www.quarryroad.org.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 ors at:

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Twitter: @colinoellis