Trail Champions, Campaign for the Maine Trail Center Receives Transformational Gift to Begin Construction


Contact: Josiah Petrin
(207) 423-7343

Trail Champions, Campaign for the Maine Trail Center Receives Transformational Gift to Begin Construction

Respected Portland entrepreneur and volunteer trail maintainer, the late Mark McAuliffe inspires support for planned trail maintenance operations and education facility in Skowhegan

SKOWHEGAN, Maine – Family and friends of the late Mark Andrew McAuliffe joined the Maine Appalachian Trail Club today in announcing a transformational bequest to Trail Champions, the Campaign for the Maine Trail Center, in fulfillment of Mark’s wishes. The bequest, which will likely exceed $1 million when finalized, has enabled the MATC to commence construction on the Maine Trail Center in Skowhegan, while it continues to fundraise to close in on the $3.2 million goal.

With this gift, the Maine Trail Center facility shall be known as “The Maine Trail Center: Honoring the Memory of Mark McAuliffe, a Devoted Member and Volunteer of MATC.” Nearly 500 individuals, foundations, and businesses have chosen to support the Trail Champions campaign, which to-date has raised $2.9 million.

Mark McAuliffe, who passed away peacefully in his home in Scarborough on October 21, 2023, was an avid hiker, outdoorsman, and member of the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, the volunteer nonprofit created in 1935 to manage, maintain and protect the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Since 2005, Mark had maintained a section of the Appalachian Trail, near Monson, Maine, with his close friends and fellow trail maintainers, Joe Kilbride and Chris O’Neil, calling themselves “The Buck Hill Gang.”

“As a volunteer Appalachian Trail maintainer himself, Mark understood how much went on behind the scenes because of MATC volunteers. Part of his wish in making this gift was to recognize the wonderful and dedicated people who make it possible for the public to enjoy the Appalachian Trail, and who provided Mark with many years of community and friendship,” said McAuliffe’s sisters, Cathleen and Maureen.

Distinct from traditional hiking clubs, the MATC’s mission is to care for Maine’s 267 miles of AT footpath, over 60 miles of related side trails and 43 campsites, and to monitor 34,000 acres of National Park Service lands. It does this primarily through the efforts of volunteer trail maintainers, as well as seasonally employed trail crew members recruited to Maine from around the world each spring.

Throughout his life, Mark embodied a unique balance between his successful career in business and his love for exploration and the outdoors. He found solace and rejuvenation in nature, particularly in the serene landscapes of Maine, which he shared with his family, especially his nieces and nephews, whenever he could. While he devoted personal time to family, friends, local nonprofits, and the Maine outdoors, professionally, Mark was very well-known and respected in the Maine business community.

From 1981 to 1994 Mark worked at Bath Iron Works, rising to Vice President of Planning and Materials. He then became Managing Partner at Orthopedic Associates from 1994 to 2006. From 2006 to 2008 Mark was the Chief Clinical Operations Officer at Martin’s Point Healthcare. In 2008, he along with four other partners, opened Apothecary by Design Pharmacy on Marginal Way in Portland. From 2002 to 2009, Mark led the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce as its President.

“Mark’s heart was always open to people and exploring new places. He loved deeply—life, friends, family—and never stopped being curious,” said Mark’s sisters, Cathleen and Maureen. “From Machu Picchu to the Azores to the Appalachian Trail, Mark explored the world throughout his lifetime, making friendships that would last his lifetime, as we saw during his final days with us. Friends came to visit him from all over the world, which meant so much to him and to us. As a family, he brought us closer to life in Maine and his world than we could have otherwise experienced, from Labor Day weekend every year at his home to family boat rides in Harpswell. More than anything, Mark would want people to know how much he loved his family and how he wished to take care of them.”

“Mark’s love for Maine and the Appalachian Trail was matched only by his love for his family,” said Lester Kenway, Chair of the Trail Champions Campaign. “His extraordinary gift enables the MATC to initiate construction of the Maine Trail Center this year! In this way, Mark’s memory will live on in the memory of all who visit the Maine Trail Center.”

About the Maine Trail Center

Trail Champions is the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s fundraising campaign to create and sustain the Maine Trail Center, a multi-use facility centrally located in Skowhegan dedicated to improving and maintaining Maine’s section of the Appalachian Trail and filling a void for Maine-based sustainable trail design and construction skills training. Formally announced in 2021, the Trail Champions campaign originally set out to raise $1.3 million for the construction and operation of the Maine Trail Center. Due to pandemic-related economic conditions and rising construction costs, the goal was later adjusted to $3.2 million.

Over the past 30 years, the MATC has suffered the hardship of having to relocate its Trail Crew six times because of not having a suitable permanent, centralized, multipurpose facility from which to operate. Historically, the Trail Crew basecamp had been located on rented aging rural properties, none of which fully met MATC’s needs.

The Maine Trail Center will meet the urgent needs of the Maine Trail Crew while providing a flexible space for a wide range of organizational functions, meetings, and training. In a survey of the Maine Land Trust Network, many of the state’s 90-plus land trusts expressed a need for training, including trail design, building, maintenance, restoration, and chainsaw use. There is no single site that offers training in these skills anywhere in Maine; the Trail Center will fill that void.

The Maine Trail Center will also benefit Maine residents and visitors. The A.T., in Maine, which charges no fees, is the largest network of hiking trails in the state. A review of MATC hiker statistics found that hikers had spent an estimated 122,000 days on the trail in 2022. Maine residents and families, visitors from around the nation and foreign countries, college and youth groups, and long-distance backpackers enjoy this resource. MATC provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to camp, hike and participate in the stewardship of public lands.

In the summer of 2022, the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard began construction of the access driveway of the Maine Trail Center, as one of several community outreach projects for the Guard’s annual training season. In the summer of 2023, the 262nd Engineer Company & 136th Engineer Vertical Construction Company of the Maine Army National Guard constructed two Crew Quarters. In the winter of 2024, MATC moved forward with an official bid selection for construction of the Maine Trail Center, awarding the bid to Ranger Construction Corp. based in Fairfield, Maine.

More than 20 conservation-focused organizations and institutions have endorsed the Maine Trail Center, including: L.L.Bean, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Maine Conservation Corps, Appalachian Mountain Club, Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, The Student Conservation Association, The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Forest Society of Maine, Unity College, International Appalachian Trail (IAT/SIA Council), The Town of Skowhegan, Friends of Baxter State Park, Somerset Woods Trustees, White Mountain Trail Collective, High Peaks Alliance, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Land and Garden Preserve, Teens to Trails, and Main Street Skowhegan.

For more information about the Maine Trail Center and opportunities to support the Trail Champions campaign, please visit

About The Maine Appalachian Trail Club

Founded in 1935, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) is a volunteer, nonprofit corporation created to assume responsibility for the construction, maintenance, and protection of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Maine. Except for its limited role in Baxter State Park and excluding 14 miles south of Grafton Notch, the MATC is responsible for all Trail and Trail structure design, construction, and maintenance, campsite maintenance and projects; for monitoring activities in the AT corridor; and for public information and education regarding the Appalachian Trail in Maine. FMI:

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