As part of a celebration of National Public Lands Day on Saturday, Sept. 26, the South Portland Land Trust will have a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the improved and expanded South Branch Trail on the city’s west end.

South Portland Mayor Kate Lewis will officially open the one-mile trail with the ceremonial ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be at the entrance to the trail alongside Philbrook Avenue, next to the land trust kiosk that is opposite the Maine Mall’s J.C. Penney store.

“The South Branch Trail is noteworthy because it’s an urban trail that is completed surround by trees and other vegetation,” said SPLT President Richard Rottkov in a written statement. “The public will be amazed by the beauty of the trail. Walking the one-mile trail is a peaceful, invigorating experience.”

Volunteers built 13 bog bridges and fixed one bog bridge on the South Branch Trail in South Portland in early June. Photo courtesy of Richard Rottkov

While the first half of the South Branch Trail was built several years ago, the land trust doubled the length of the trail last October when the Maine Conservation Corps increased the length to one mile. Land trust volunteers made many improvements to the trail during the past year, including adding 13 bog bridges and a new signage system.

The South Branch Trail is located across from the Maine Mall’s J.C. Penney in the wooded area between the Clark’s Pond movie theater and the Olive Garden. Although the trail is urban and built on commercial land, it features two ponds, four bridges and crosses two creeks. It is heavily wooded and contains no road crossings.

The land trust guided Eagle Scout candidate Lucas Lefebvre as he designed the new sign system and installed 12 signs. The Maine Mall was the sponsor for a portion of the sign project.

The 27th annual National Environmental Education Foundation’s Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. The event works to connect people to public lands in their community, inspire environmental stewardship, and encourage use of public lands for education, recreation, and general health.

The land trust will practice Maine CDC COVID-19 guidelines during the ribbon cutting.

To encourage people to join in and visit public lands, National Public Lands Day is a fee-free day for all federal public lands and many state parks.

For a description of the South Branch Trail and directions to the trailhead, visit https://www.southportlandlandtrust.org/south-branch-trail.