Long-awaited improvements to the Kenduskeag Stream Trail in Bangor are expected to be completed this summer, funded by a $18,000 grant recently awarded to the city by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands Recreational Trails Program.

The grant, applied for by the Bangor Park and Recreation Department on behalf of the volunteer group Friends of the Lower Kenduskeag Stream, will cover the expense of removing an old stairway at one end of a footbridge over Kenduskeag Stream and replacing the stairway with a gravel path that will lead gradually uphill to the neighborhood and Coe Park above.

“We’ll create what’s referred to as a switchback trail,” said Tracey Willette, director of Bangor Parks and Recreation Department. “It will reconnect with the existing trail that comes from Coe Park on Court Street. Overall, it’ll create a much safer and cleaner connection.”

At the base of the old stairway is also a notorious hangout area, where people often loiter on the steps. The plan will eliminate this area.

“Personally, and also what we’d hear from others, is that if there was ever any point of feeling unsafe or being bothered [while on the trail], that was where it was happening,” said Sean Gambrel, coordinator for Friends of Lower Kenduskeag Stream. “At the hangout spot, we observed a lot of drinking, littering and things like that going on there you’d not want to see on a trail.”

“This will make it more safe, more accessible and also gets rid of the nuisance spot,” Gambrel added. “It’s been really high on our list since the day we started. This is actually the second time we went in for a grant for this purpose.”

Friends of Lower Kenduskeag Stream — or FOLKS, for short — is a loosely organized volunteer group that formed in 2015 through Facebook with the goal to maintain and improve the Kenduskeag Stream Trail, which spans about 2 miles from the Bangor Waterfront on the Penobscot River to Kenduskeag Stream Park. Along the way, the trail connects downtown Bangor with a number of small parks and scenic outlooks on the stream.

The group works on a regular basis with the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department to address issues along the city-owned trail.

Other improvements FOLKS will be working on this summer is adding signage along the trail, especially in areas where the direction of the trail is confusing or unclear, and adding wooden handrails to sections of the trail where footing can be tricky.

“Then there’s the usual upkeep,” Gambrel said. “There’s usually some kind of washout, litter detail and clearing brush out to be done.”

Adding lighting along the trail, especially on its darkest sections, continues to be a goal of the FOLKS group, but the expense of such a project — estimated at $75,000 — makes it unattainable without a significant source of funding.

“Right now we’re preoccupied with lower hanging fruit,” Gambrel said, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if in five years we’d find some lights down there.”

To stay up to date on volunteer opportunities on the Kenduskeag Stream Trail, join the “Friends of Lower Kenduskeag Stream (FOLKS)” group on Facebook. The group hosts regular events on the trail, including group walks and bikes and litter clean ups.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...