The recognizable Fly Rod Crosby Trail signs lead the way on, when it is completed, will be a 45-mile heritage trail. Credit: Courtesy of Sarah Sindo

There’s something about the arrival of spring in Maine, isn’t there? A certain feeling of hope and invigoration. Sunshine and a blue sky took hold on the morning of the first official day of spring, and by afternoon, I felt it was time for a walk outdoors.

The Fly Rod Crosby Trail is a project in the works and, when complete, will be a 45-mile heritage hiking trail that extends from Strong to Oquossoc. The trail will weave along the Sandy River, Orbeton and Hardy streams, over toward Rangeley Lake, and come to an end at the Sporting Heritage Museum.

There are two sections of the trail open — a 7-mile section between Phillips and Madrid and a 13-mile section of trail between Madrid and Saddleback Mountain.

Originally, my plan was to head to Madrid and check out the beginning of the section of trail that’s near the Reeds Mill Church. However, my plan didn’t quite go accordingly.

Not being familiar with the roads, I came to an abrupt stop and was forced to turn around on a dirt road while on my way to the trailhead. It probably would have helped if I had known a section of that road is not plowed in the winter but, alas, that’s the way it sometimes goes while driving back roads in Maine.

I’m pretty sure there was another way around, but instead, knowing I was very close to Phillips where the other trailhead was located, or because of stubbornness, I decided to head to the next town over.

Just before crossing the old stone bridge in Phillips, I took a right onto Amble Street and parked my car in front of a snowbank at the end of the street.

My eyes immediately recognized the white and blue Fly Rod Crosby Trail sign that featured a fishing fly.

I meandered along the trail as it paralleled the Sandy River, stopping often to soak up the rays of sunshine and take in the flowing waters of the river. It was a delightful day to welcome spring.

I soon came to the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad Museum. Although buried in snow and closed for the season, I walked around the building and equipment from the operation that ran throughout Franklin County in the early 1900s.

I found my way back to the trail and continued on a little farther through the woods. Eventually, the footprints I was following ended and since I did not have my snowshoes I decided against post-holing and made my way to the river’s edge.

Shielding myself from the breeze, I sat down and suppressed my desire for a snack with a Larabar. I thought of Fly Rod Crosby herself and wondered what sorts of snacks she brought in her pack on her fishing outings along the river. It surely wasn’t a Larabar.

Born in 1854, Cornelia Thurza Crosby grew up just down the street from where I sat near the Sandy River. In fact, after my walk, I drove by the brick house on Pleasant Street where she grew up.

Due to a tuberculosis diagnosis, Cornelia was ordered to spend as much time as possible outdoors; fresh air was her prescription. Sometime in her 20s, she picked up fishing and fell in love with the sport.

Thanks to her passion for the Maine woods and hunting and fishing, the writing career of “Fly Rod,” the pen name she came to write under, took off in the late 1890s. She was featured regularly in various newspapers, sharing snippets of her outings and travels.

In 1895, she promoted the Maine outdoors by attending the first sportsmen’s show in New York City. It was an extravagant show and the Maine exhibit included a cabin measuring 10 feet by 13 feet and numerous mounted animals and fish. The show was a huge success and Crosby helped put Maine on the radar as a superb outdoor sporting destination.

Crosby’s fame grew and the impact of her words and actions are felt to this day.

Maine’s catch-and-release ethic and bag limits are all in part because of Crosby’s work and dedication. She was even part of the team that advocated for guides to be licensed, and she holds the title of the first Registered Maine Guide.

Simply put, Crosby carved a path and broke barriers for women in the state of Maine.

The afternoon of the first day of spring, I left my house feeling excited to welcome the season with a hike, and I ended the day with a deep sense of gratitude for a woman who lived more than a century ago.

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Sarah Sindo, Outdoors contributor

Sarah Sindo was locally grown in Millinocket. Her love and appreciation for the outdoors took off after college when she hiked numerous mountains with her brother, Nick, including her first ascent of Katahdin....