The 2,358-acre Bingham Forest was conveyed to the Bethel Water Company by William Bingham II in 1925. In 2007, a torrential rainstorm caused the Chapman Brook, which was the primary source of water for the town, to flood, severely scarring either side of its banks and damaging the infrastructure of the drinking water supply. The town then shifted to sourcing water from subsurface wells, and in 2010 the trusteeship of the forest was conveyed to the Town of Bethel. It is managed for water quality protection, wildlife habitat protection, public recreation, and sustainable timber management, and IWT serves as the recreation managers for the forest. In 2019, a clean and clear route of access was available to the Bingham Forest when IWT purchased the Bethel Community Forest. In 2020, the first hiking trail was built in the forest. The Bingham Cascades Trail branches off the Summit Ridge Trail in the BCF to a series of waterfalls and cascades off the Chapman Brook, Library Brook, and Spruce Spring Stream. In 2021, a single-track bike trail “Flux” was built as a connector trail from the BCF to the single-track bike trail located on Bethel Water District land called “Ghost”, and a series of other single track has been built since then, and various double track woods roads have been rehabilitated for recreation use.
The connection: When Inland Woods + Trails was founded, a foundational goal was to connect Sunday River to the Bethel village through a system of trails. The Bingham Forest, Bethel’s town forest for decades, was a piece directly abutting Sunday River, and the Bethel Community Forest, which abuts North Road in Bethel, creates clean and clear access from the roads and pathways connecting to Bethel Village through the community forest and town forest to the resort. In short, the Bethel Community Forest and Bingham Forest are enormous puzzle pieces in IWT’s mission to create a 3,600-acre tapestry of conserved land to connect communities of Bethel and beyond with the peaks of Sunday River. These forests contain trail corridors that will allow folks to travel from Bethel to Sunday River via a traditional hiking trail, a single-track bike trail, a multiple use double track trail, or a snowmobile trail.
Trails available & stats:
Traditional hiking trail: 6.45 mi
Single track bike trail: 2.71 mi
Double track, multiple use pathways and woods roads: 2.9 mi
Note: All hiking trails can be accessed from the Bethel Community Forest trailhead or by any of the Sunday River Resort summer hiking network trailheads; Bike and doubletrack trails are currently accessed from the Bethel Community Forest trailhead only.
Maine Trail Finder links