Sunday, August 7, 2022

Schoodic Woods Campground, Indian Point Blagden Preserve and Volta Climbing Gym

My son and I camped Saturday night at Schoodic Woods Campground in Acadia National Park.  While he attended an event at Volta I hiked at the Indian Point Blagden Preserve.  On Sunday morning we returned to Volta and were joined by my daughter for a morning of climbing.

Indian Point Blagden Preserve 

Indian Point Blagden Preserve is a 110 acre preserve on Mount Desert Island owned by The Nature Conservancy.   I started my 2.25 mile hike on the Big Wood Trail, which leads through a forest of spruce, cedar and fir trees on its way to the western shore of the island.  I next took the Shore Trail which, as it's name implies, runs along the  preserve's 1,000 foot shoreline, providing great views of Western Bay.   I finished by walking back along Higgins Farm Road to the parking lot.  

This is a beautiful preserve and a great place to escape the crowds that flock to Acadia.  I saw only four other people during my hike.  

Schoodic Woods Campground 

We were amazed to find a campsite available in Acadia when we started planning this trip earlier in the week.   We camped at site H01 at Schoodic Woods.  The site is a hike in site requiring a 650' walk from the parking lot, but it was secluded and quiet.  There were hardly any mosquitoes and the cool ocean breeze made for good sleeping weather. 

Volta Climbing Gym

Volta is a 10,000 square foot climbing gym located off Route 3 in Trenton, just before reaching Mount Desert Island.  The gym opened in April 2022 and is the only commercial climbing gym north of Portland.  The gym is large, air conditioned, well laid out and staffed by friendly, knowledgeable and safety conscious staff.   

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Northern Pond Natural Area (Monroe)

We did a quick hike this morning at Northern Pond Natural Area.  I've blogged about this area before (https://welcome.hikingmaine.org/2019/12/northern-pond-natural-area-monroe.html) and love that it's close yet feels remote.  

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Cycling the Medford Lagrange Rail Trail

We cycled 15 miles on the Medford Lagrange Rail Trail this morning, starting at Hill Crest Cemetery and riding to the Trestle Road Bridge in Medford, returning the same way.  We encountered minimal ATV traffic and those that we did encounter were polite.  

The trail was flat and well packed for the most part, with only occasional sections of rock and sand.   

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Kayaking Penobscot River (Hampden to Bangor)

I kayaked 6.5 miles today on the Penobscot River from Hamlin's Marina in Hampden to the railroad bridge downstream from EMMC.   

It was a beautiful day and I timed my trip so that I'd turn around when the tide changed.  While this is a fun place to kayak, the amount of abandoned industrial and marine equipment lining the shore (and underwater) is disheartening.   

Friday, July 29, 2022

Kayaking South Branch Marsh River (Frankfort)

A friend and I kayaked tonight after work on the south branch of the Marsh River, paddling 1.75 miles roundtrip from the Bangor Road boat launch to the Penobscot River.   It was a perfect night with an incoming tide and we were surrounded by schools of jumping fish.   

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Ash Landing Trail, Sunkhaze NWR (Milford)

At 0.2 miles (0.4 roundtrip), the Ash Landing Trail is the shortest of the four formal trails in Sunkhaze National Wildlife Refuge.  It was, however, better maintained than either than Johnson Brook or Oak Point Trails, both of which I stopped at first before deciding to hike Ash Landing.   (The other two trails had abundant tall grass and I didn't feel like dealing with ticks today).

The Ash Landing Trail leads through a forest, briefly onto a boardwalk, and out to the bank of Sunkhaze Stream.  

Saturday, July 16, 2022

North Carolina Trip (Mount Mitchell, Black Mountain Campground, Crabtree Falls Campground, Blue Ridge Parkway)

My son and I traveled to North Carolina this week to hike Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain on the east coast), camp and visit family.   

Our first stop was the Black Mountain Campground, adjacent to the South Toe River and sitting at the base of 6,684 foot Mount Mitchell.  At 3,000 feet elevation, the US Forest Service campground is cooler than central and coastal parts of the state.  There are 40 campsites each with picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills. There are hot showers, clean restrooms with flush toilets and an office selling firewood, ice, and a small selection of souvenirs.

We woke early Friday morning, broke camp ànd started the 6.4 mile ascent up Mount Mitchell from the parking lot across from the campground.

This was an awesome hike under a forested canopy almost the entire time.   The first several miles were through a forest of flowering rhododendrons.  At three miles we refilled our water bottles with filtered water from Setrock Creek.   There were only occasional views on the way to the summit, mostly from a clearcut section where power lines climb the mountain.  Once we neared the summit we began to encounter visitors to Mount Mitchell State Park that had driven the road up to the summit.  

The summit features a viewing platform, porta potties, a snack bar and a gift shop.  The snack bar offered sandwiches, chips, sweets and most importantly water.  

This was a challenging hike due to it's length and vertical ascent, although we both felt it was easier than Katahdin or Mount Washington.  Our total round-trip distance was 12.8 miles.  

We spent Friday night at Crabtree Falls Campground, a National Park Service campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Unlike many campgrounds, it allows one night weekend stays during the summer, likely due to the linear nature of the Blue Ridge Parkway.   The campground has flush toilets and drinking water, and each site has a picnic table and fire ring.  Our campsite was surrounded by flowering rhododendrons, which hummed from pollinating bees.  This was a nice campground but lacked showers and the restrooms were not well maintained.  

We spent Saturday exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading to Charlotte to visit family.