Sunday, May 19, 2019

Kennebec River Rail Trail

The Kennebec River Rail Trail (KRRT) is a 6.5 mile paved rail trail running from Augusta to Gardiner and passing through the towns of Hallowell and Farmingdale.  The trail runs alongside railroad tracks and the Kennebec River and provides a great place to run, walk and cycle. 

My son's marathon training program called for a 20 mile run today, so we chose the KRRT for this and I rode support on a bike.  There were a decent amount of people out using the trail considering it was a cloudy, lightly raining Sunday morning. 

The trail offers views of the river and there are multiple access points along its path.  We started at the parking area for Maine State Housing Authority under the Route 202 bridge.  There is a section where the trail stops and you travel along Water Street in downtown Hallowell, and then it resumes after the downtown area. 

There are multiple places to stop and eat along the way, and Granite City Park in Hallowell has nice chairs to relax and watch the river.  

Here is a link to the trail map for just the Kennebec River Rail Trail.  Here is a link for the full 20 miles that we did, which includes the Augusta waterfront and doubling back on the rail trail.
The trail runs along the Kennebec River and adjacent to railroad tracks.
There are occasional benches overlooking the river.
Two very small waterfalls are visible from the trail.
 
 

The trail runs through downtown Hallowell.
Chairs overlooking the river at Granite City Park in Hallowell, next to the trail.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Camden Hills State Park - Mount Megunticook

Today was the third time I've visited Camden Hills this year, and the second time I've hiked up Mount Megunticook.  We had planned on hiking Mount Battie with a small hiking group from work, but when one of our group decided to turn back, we elected instead to visit Megunticook, as it offers better hiking and views.

We lucked out as the rain and clouds held off and we were able to complete the hike in a mix of sun and clouds with 60 degree temps.  Black flies have started but were generally manageable.  Trail conditions were mostly dry with a couple of muddy and wet spots.

Here is today's trail map.






Sunday, May 12, 2019

MOFGA BSA Camporee in Unity

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Waldo District BSA hosted a camporee at the MOFGA fairgrounds in Unity this weekend.  A camporee is like a jamboree, but with camping and no jamming. 

The event provided an opportunity for the scouts to work on five different merit badges (animal life, plant life, gardening, metal working and farm machinery) with MOFGA staff providing excellent instruction in each.  We completed a service project as well, helping to build wooden beam fences.

Our troop had five boys (including my younger son) and three adult leaders.  We lucked out with great weather Saturday and Sunday. 

Considering the heavy rains all day Friday, the grounds were fairly dry.

For our service project, the scouts built this wooden fence..

Hands-on animal science, listening to a cow's heart and stomach.


The gardening merit badge was very popular, thanks mainly to a very engaging MOFGA staff member.

The great thing about being an adult on a scouting trip is that there is plenty of downtime.  Sure, I could have (should have) been applying sunscreen, but instead why not take some pictures of clouds...

and cool looking bugs...

and interesting Stonehenge like pillars.





Saturday, May 4, 2019

Webster Avenue in Bangor

Webster Avenue is a short paved path leading to the Bangor Municipal Golf Course from Cole's Transportation Museum that is closed to motor vehicles. 

Although short, the trail is great for kids, as it offers opportunities to explore outdoor exhibits (including a tank and helicopter) at Cole's Transportation Museum, and if timed properly, incoming flights into Bangor International Airport, since the golf course sits right in the flight path. 

I took my younger son here today after spending the afternoon looking at planes at the airport.  It was a nice way to wrap up an airplane themed afternoon. 

Here is the trail map.

Incoming flight into Bangor Airport, viewed from Webster Avenue

View of the tank exhibit at Cole's Museum
The path is a section of Webster Avenue that is closed to traffic.

Bike Ride - Route 2 from Milford to Greenbush

Route 2 north of Old Town is flat, straight, lightly traveled and has a decent shoulder most of the way to Howland (with the exception of a short stretch).  It runs alongside the Penobscot River much of the way. 

Last summer my son and I completed a 50 mile round trip ride from Old Town to Howland.  Today my son needed to run 18 miles so we selected Route 2 from Milford to Greenbush for the run while I rode and supported him. 

Here is a map of today's ride.

Route 2 runs alongside the Penobscot River part of the way

This was a nice little area at around the halfway point where I stopped and stretched my legs

A view of the river from one of two boat ramps on our route

View showing the wide shoulders and proximity of the river

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Biking and Hiking on the Down East Sunrise Trail in Ellsworth

The Down East Sunrise Trail runs 87 miles from Ellsworth north to Pembroke. It is a multi-use trail, and during the summer it gets heavy use from ATVs.   It runs through several towns on its way north and provides a nice environment to hike and bike. 

My son is training for a marathon so we chose this trail for him to run on today.  For longer runs I like to support him on bike.  Because of the heavy rains yesterday the trail was muddy in parts.  This would be a good trail for a fat tire bike, however I only have a hybrid.   Due to muddy and soft conditions, I wound up hiking 50% of the time.  It was still a great day to be out on the trail since the only people that we saw were ROTC students marching in a group. 

The trail was flooded 5.25 miles north of Ellsworth so in order to get enough training miles we looped back and repeated a portion of trail.   There was a small section of trail that still had ice on it, and the trail had almost completely washed out in another area.

Here is today's trail map.


The trail crosses several streams

View of the trail from the side
Mile 14 of a 17 mile run
5.25 miles north of Ellsworth, the trail was flooded over

The trail is crushed stone and dirt





Sunday, April 21, 2019

Indian Trail Park in Brewer

Indian Trail Park runs along the Penobscot River in Brewer, across the river from Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.  The park offers a few miles of relatively easy hiking alongside the river.

Since today was Easter, it was lightly raining, and we had only a limited amount of time to hike, we chose to explore this park.  I'm glad that we did, as it was a very enjoyable hike with great views of the river.  We enjoyed watching the cormorants fishing and swimming, and also spotted a red tailed hawk near the parking lot.

The trail itself was in good condition despite rains yesterday and today, with only one short stretch of mud.  There is a portion of the trail that requires crossing a very small stream over rocks.

We hiked up to the Penobscot Salmon Club buildings, and then headed back, arriving back in the parking lot just as the rain began to pick up.  In total we hiked around 1.4 miles with a total climb of around 300 feet.  We could have continued further upriver but given our time restrictions and the weather opted for a shorter hike today.

Here is a link to the trail map.  

The trail runs along the river and although not marked, its not difficult to follow for the most part.
There are some small climbs as the trail meanders up and down along the river.

View of the river.

View of the woods next to the trail.

View of Bangor Water Works.

The stream crossing on the trail.




Sunday, April 14, 2019

Camden Hills State Park - Mt. Megunticook and Mt Battie

Camden Hills State Park is located just north of Camden on the coast and offers 5,700 acres of forested land, miles of trails, and several mountain tops offering spectacular views of the surrounding area.

I last visited here in mid-February with my younger son.  At that time, we used snowshoes to hike up the iced over Mt. Battie Road in 34 degree temperatures.

Today I returned with my older son to enjoy temperatures in the mid-60's.  We hiked close to the summit of Mt. Megunticook and then over to Mt. Battie.  The trails were muddy from snow melt (it had snowed six days ago) and icy in parts.  At the top of Mt. Megunticook we encountered snow and ice on the trails to the summit as well as the trail to the ski lodge (which we had hoped to check out, but will wait for another day).

Overall the hike was a moderately strenuous 4.7 mile trip with a total climb of 1,497 feet.  Since it was a beautiful weekend day, the park was moderately crowded around Mount Battie but less so on Mt. Megunticook.

Here is the trail map.

View from Mount Megunticook.
Trail leading to Mount Megunticook.

Standing on top of Mount Megunticook.

Mount Megunticook Trail.

View from Mount Megunticook.  Camden Ski Bowl is to the left.

Trail up Mount Megunticook.

There was still significant snow and ice on top of Mt. Megunticook.

Trail from Mount Megunticook to Mount Battie.

View of Camden from Mount Battie.


Yurt Camping at Hidden Valley Nature Center

Hidden Valley Nature Center (HVNC) is a roughly 1,000 acre preserve in Jefferson, Maine managed by the Midcoast Conservancy.  It features 20+ miles of hiking trails through a variety of habitats, as well as lake access and year-round educational programs (for more information, see https://www.midcoastconservancy.org/preserve/hidden-valley-nature-center/).

HVNC also offers a variety of affordable overnight camping options, including tent sites, cabins, and two yurts.  Yurt rentals are $80/night.  Midcoast Conservancy members get 40% off so yurts only cost $48/night. 

My older son and I did a reconnaissance mission last night to explore the North Yurt (aka Wayward Yurt) to determine whether or not the entire family would enjoy staying there.

To reach the North Yurt, we hiked 0.8 miles on a relatively wide trail (see trail map here).  There were a couple of sections where the trail was muddy from the recent snow melt, and a short inclined portion.  There is a shorter, steeper trail that offers a shortcut to the yurt which we used when we departed.  The shorter trail would be difficult to use if you were carrying a large amount of items or using a cart or sled to move your gear.

We found the yurt to be nice and secluded.  There is a little sign along the trail that you can flip over to indicate that the yurt is occupied, which we liked.  The yurt is on a ridge line with nice views of the surrounding areas.  There is a fire ring, a covered picnic table, a little bench on which you can use a stove, and a nice outside deck that made for a pleasant place to sit after dinner.  We lucked out in that the temperatures were in the 50's-60's that day and it was still early enough in the season that bugs weren't an issue.

The inside of the yurt was spacious and offered 3 bunk beds for a total of 6 sleeping areas with mattresses (double sized beds).  It has a wood stove (along with a carbon monoxide detector, a smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher), a kitchen table and a desk, indoor/outdoor carpeting, a push carpet cleaner, broom and dust pan.  For meals, it had a Coleman propane stove (bring your own small propane tank), a cooking pot, a tea pot, and a small charcoal barbecue for cooking outside (bring your own charcoal).  HVNC provides wood for the wood stove (bring your own fire starting materials). 

There is an outhouse around 100 feet from the yurt.  It has a pit toilet and they provided toilet paper and antibacterial.  There is no running water. 

There is no electricity at the yurt.  There is also no lighting so bring your own lanterns and flashlights.  I had decent cell service with Verizon but my son's AT&T phone did not have coverage. 

We really enjoyed our stay here.  After the hike in, we set up camp and then made dinner.   After dinner, we relaxed out on the deck and then went in for the night.   It was extremely quiet throughout the night, with the only sounds being a few coyotes howling.

In the morning, we packed up and headed out early.  We will definitely return. 

View from the Yurt.

The North Yurt.

View of the yurt from the door.

View of the deck from inside the yurt.
Trail to the outhouse.


View of the sky from the deck.
View of the sky from the deck.
View of the setting sun from the deck.