Cairns Woods Trail is officially open!

ELLSWORTH – The Ellsworth Trails group and Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the grand opening of the Cairns Woods trails on Thursday, Oct. 7. The woods now contain about two miles of trails that are completely ready for the public.

Steve Marson, one of the volunteers who helped clear and map out the trails said, “During COVID when we couldn’t really get together, I came out and cleared some of the trails. I think there are about two miles of trails out here and there are different loops to explore.”

The COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted for many communities a need for more outdoor spaces. Now that social distancing and outdoor gathering is the top recreational choice for many people, outdoor spaces like parks and trails have gained a lot of popularity.

Volunteer Sherry Marson said the project has been in the process for about two years. Clearing of the trails and planning how the system would work was put on hold during most of the pandemic. The group remained dedicated and determined to make this plan a reality and it has finally come full circle.

The ceremony honored the original dedication and acknowledged the history behind the woods. The space is one of the only village- owned spaces with which the group could work and they hope to continue creating spaces similar to this.

“The rock at the entrance and cedar trees behind it were planted 72 years ago and it was Mrs. Cairns wish for future generations to experience this woods and I think she would be happy to see it today,” said Steve Marson.

Kim Beebe from the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce said, “It was over 60 years ago when this park was first dedicated and it was lost for some time; people didn’t even know this was out here and then back in 2018 when the Ellsworth Chamber introduced Design Ellsworth, a group of citizens voiced that they wanted more hiking.”

At the opening ceremony the Ellsworth High School band performed, similar to the dedication ceremony held in 1949 when the high school band also played. For this ceremony, many group members wanted to pay homage to the original dedication.

The village purchased 34 acres of land from Gertrude Cairns in 1949 at a sizable discount. Cairns wanted the land used as a tribute to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Cairns, and as an education demonstration forest. The park is home to many basswood, elm, hard maple and red oak trees.

The trails will continue to be maintained by the community; the Ellsworth Trails group is seeking volunteers to keep the trails clear and clean. At the entrance of the trails there are maps along with other information about the group.

The trails group also has a Facebook page where information is regularly posted about meetings and events.

Cairns Woods is located off North Cairns Street, which is off Highway 65.

Sherry and Steve Marson were a huge force behind the Ellsworth Trails Committee’s dedication to keeping the Cairns Woods project alive throughout the pandemic. Photo by Melissa Thorud

October 13, 2021