Sunday, September 15, 2019

McPhetres Farm Forest and Davis Forest (Veazie)

The Town of Veazie and Orono Land Trust work together to manage three contiguous properties in Veazie off of Route 2.  Combined, the McPhetres Forest, Davis Forest and Manterwood properties are approximately 33 acres and contain a variety of tree species, including white oaks and century old white pines.  

I visited the preserve today while my son was volunteering nearby.  I had intended on visiting all three preserves; however, despite having brought a map and having maps located throughout the preserve, I made a wrong turn and wound up only doing McPhetres and Davis Forests.  

I only encountered one other person during my hike, despite it being a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The preserve is small and wedged between residential areas, but the immense trees give it a remote feeling.  Some of the trails were well maintained while others had vegetation encroaching on them. 

A trail map of the preserve is available on the Orono Land Trust website.  Here is a map of my hike today.  The trail leaves the forest briefly when it reaches Davis Drive and re-enters a short while later. 

The entrance road for the preserve is immediately adjacent to Fairview Cemetery.  There is no sign when you reach the parking for the preserve.  The entrance is to the left of the white fence down a short grass path.  

Some of the trails were overgrown.

Signs like these are located throughout the forest, which in theory should make navigation fairly easy. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Camping and Hiking (Quoddy Jo South Peak) at Aroostook State Park

My son had a cross country meet in Presque Isle so we decided to turn it into a short overnight adventure by camping in Aroostook State Park and hiking early the next morning.

In the off-season, camping is first-come first-served at the park, although on Friday night the campground wasn't crowded (there were approximately six other occupied campsites).  Our campsite was basic (flat ground, fire pit, picnic table) but served its purpose well.  With temperatures in the 40's, bugs were not an issue and the area was very quiet.

The campground has warm showers and flush toilets, as well as a covered kitchen building with a sink, electrical outlets, picnic tables and electric lights.  

In the morning, we woke and hiked up the South Peak trail of Quoddy Jo Mountain.  The trail was short (around 1/2 mile to the summit from the campground) but very steep.  At one point, the hike requires a rock scramble.  There is a view from the trail near the summit, but the summit itself is forested with no view.  We descended using the Ridge and Notch trails, which were not as challenging as the South Peak trail. 

Although short, the hike was challenging, especially for my son since he had run a cross-country race just 14 hours before.  As we admired the view from the South Peak trail, a large hawk came swooping down and landed in a tree.  It was close enough that we could hear it's wings flapping.

Overall, we greatly enjoyed the brief time we spent at the park.

Here is a map of our hike.

View from the South Peak trail above the rock scramble.
This is the rock scramble.  The picture doesn't do it justice.
South Peak trail.
Our campsite, basic but functional. 
View from the tent in the morning.
The kitchen building, with picnic tables, sink and electrical outlets.

View of the sky from our campsite.
Echo Lake viewed from the park's beach.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Camping and Fat Tire Biking at Hidden Valley Nature Center

Our boy scout troop went camping at the Hidden Valley Nature Center this weekend.  We stayed in the yurt (see my prior yurt post here) and then went fat tire biking in the morning.  The Center makes the bikes available to groups that are using the Center as well as local schools in the area (see its website for additional information).

Its hard to take pictures while trail riding, but I did get one of the boys taking a well deserved break.
Sitting around the campfire at night.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hidden Valley Nature Center and Little Dyer Pond (Jefferson)

I visited Hidden Valley Nature Center (HVNC) today to meet with a representative of the MidCoast Conservancy in preparation for an upcoming scouting event.  While there I hiked down to the Pond Cabin and canoe launch area.  

HVNC consists of over 1,000 acres of wooded land owned and managed by the Midcoast Conservancy.  The property has miles of hiking trails, rustic overnight cabins and campsites, and canoes for use on Little Dyer Pond.

Here is a map of my hike.  For more information about HVNC, you can visit its website.

The property has a number of small ponds.

View of Little Dyer Pond from the shore near Pond Cabin.

Pond Cabin.

The Center has trails ranging from wide and well-maintained to narrow and overgrown.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Kayaking Hammond Pond (Hampden)

Hammond Pond is a 100 acre lake in Hampden.   I had a busy day on Sunday but wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather, so I took a quick trip out to Hammond Pond.  

The pond can be accessed either from Hermon Pond or from a private boat ramp off of Bog Road.   The Bog Road ramp charges a $1 fee as of the time of this post.  

The river leading to Hammond Pond passes under and then adjacent to I-95, so the trip lacks a remote feeling, but the lake itself is still beautiful.  

Here is a map of my visit.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hawaii 2 (Liberty, Maine)

Where:  Hawaii 2, an island located in St. George Lake.

What:  Hawaii 2 is a 6 acre island owned by Hawaii 2, LLC and open to the public.  The island is accessible by boat.  For more information about Hawaii 2 including its controversial history, see it's website or it's Wikipedia page.

Trails:  I wasn't able to find any trail maps of the island on the Internet.  When we arrived at the island, we observed some unmarked trails.  Here is a trail map of our trip, which also includes the kayak trip out there from Lake St. George State Park.

Tick Index:  Likely moderate due to vegetation on trails, although we didn't encounter any ticks.


We decided to explore Hawaii 2 after seeing it on Google maps and researching its history.  The island itself was a short kayak trip from the boat ramp at Lake St. George State Park.  When we arrived we noticed two tents, a kayak and an inflatable float toy located on the island, along with a smoldering camp fire, although we didn't see any people.  We took a brief walk on the island to get a feel for it's trail system, but didn't want to venture too far from our kayak.

The island itself is wooded, although there are some clearings where one could camp.  The trails we walked on were well worn.  There were others that were more overgrown.  There appear to be two primary points of entry onto the island, both on the south end of the island.  There are no facilities on the island.

The water around the island gets deep fairly quickly.  We went for a swim off the north side of the island.

Landing point on south end of the island
The island from a distance

Sign welcoming visitors
Area leading from the south end of the island to the middle. 
View of our kayak while we are swimming

Northern tip of the island

Friday, August 30, 2019

Aroostook Valley Trail

Where: Presque Isle, Maine

What: The Aroostook Valley Trail is a 28.8 mile long multi-use trail that runs north from Presque Isle.


I walked 1.7 miles (3.4 roundtrip) of the Aroostook Valley Trail at sunrise.   I had the trail to myself. 

Here is the trail map.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail, s/o Presque Isle

Where:  The Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail starts in the town of Phair (south of Presque Isle) and ends in Houlton. 

What:  This is a 38.8 mile long multiuse rail trail.  I covered 2.6 miles of it today (5.33 miles roundtrip).


Tonight is my last night in Presque Isle and I had time after work.  There was no parking area where I started so I parked along the side of the road. 

It rained heavily last night into the morning, so the trail was muddy and puddled in parts.  The trail is mostly flat and runs through woodlands and wetlands.  I only saw one other person on the trail (he was riding an ATV). 

Here is a map of my walk. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bangor & Aroostook Trail s/o Washburn

Where:  The Bangor & Aroostook Trail (BAT) runs from Van Buren to Mapleton, Maine.

What:  This is a 62 mile long multiuse trail.  Today I covered roughly 2.5 miles of it (5 miles roundtrip).

Bear Index:  High.


Wanting to take advantage of my limited time in the Presque Isle area, I walked after work today on the BAT south of Washburn.  There was a small parking lot near the trail.  Here is a trail map of my walk.

I was initially somewhat disappointed as the trail started out next to some new construction.  However, after around 3/4 of a mile, it began becoming more secluded.  During the entire time I was on the trail, I saw only one other person (they rode past on an ATV). 

The trail passed farms and woodlands.  The highlight of the walk was when a black bear ambled onto the trail around 200 yards ahead of me.  It started walking in my direction but when it noticed me yelling and waving my arms it scampered off into the woods. 

Watching the Sunrise, Haystack Mountain (Castle Hill)

Where:   Haystack Mountain is located in Castle Hill, near Presque Isle

What:   A short but steep trail leads to rewarding views of the entire area.

Trails:   As far as I could tell, there was just one blue blazed trail.  It was approximately 6/10 of a mile roundtrip.  Here is a trail map of my hike.

Tick Index:   Low, the trail was well worn with little grass.


I am traveling for work, and decided to get up early and watch the sunrise from the summit of Haystack Mountain.  The trail is short and was not difficult to climb in the dark (I had a headlamp).   The views from the top were well worth the effort.

The County is DARK at night!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Turtle Head Park, Hampden

Where:   Hampden along the Penobscot River next to Hamlin's Marina.

What:   An 8.5 acre park with a paved, handicap accessible 900 foot long path leading to the river.

Trails:   There are two trails in the park - a paved path and a wood chip covered path.  Since I brought my dog, we stayed on the paved path to avoid ticks.  Here is a map of our walk.


I wanted to take my dog out but didn't have much time, so we decided to explore Turtle Head Park.  The park is small but has a nice paved path leading to an overlook of the river with a picnic table.  The paved path was well-maintained.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum

Where:  Hermon, Maine

What:  Ecotat Gardens is an 88 acre preserve with gardens and trails leading through an arboretum. 

Trails:  The preserve offers a mile of trails leading through woods and gardens.  Our focus today was less hiking and more photography, but if you are interested here is a trail map.

Tick Index:  The preserve has a tick warning sign, and the woodland trail seemed a bit overgrown on our visit, so we focused on the gardens.

Commentary:  My son had his wisdom teeth taken out recently so we were looking for an opportunity to get outside but not expend much energy.  We spent around an hour here exploring the gardens and photographing insects and flowers.