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

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.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Great Pond Mountain Wild Lands Group Hike

I went on a group hike today with an outdoor club that we've organized at work. It's challenging to plan events in Maine in April since the weather is unpredictable.  Case in point - earlier this week we had 4 inches of snow Monday followed by more snow on Tuesday, followed by 50 degree days on Thursday and Friday.   Today it was around 60 but foggy so visibility was limited.

Four of us went on the hike.  It was mostly mud with some ice mixed in, and there were limited views from the summit.   It was fun nonetheless, as it was good company.

This was almost the same hike my son and I had taken March 17th, but most of the snow and ice has melted. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Bangor City Forest

With 650 acres and 10 miles of trails, Bangor City Forest provides a nice place to hike within the city.    

It's hard to resist getting trail time in when it's only a 5 minute drive from town.  Although I was short on time, I was still able to get a 2 mile 30 minute hike in.   The gravel road trails have finally dried out (just in time for the 3-5" of snow predicted for tomorrow).

Here is the trail map from today's hike.

These maps showing the park's trail system are located throughout the park at almost every trail intersection, making it difficult to get lost.  I took A-B-C-D-H-I-J-K. 

A portion of the gravel road trail. 

Another section of the gravel road trail. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Bridge

Fort Knox State Historic Site and Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory are both closed during the winter season; however, the grounds are open to explore. Information on the history of the fort and the park can be found on Wikipedia.   

My younger son and I hiked around the outer perimeter of the park and into one of the tunnels, and then headed over to the base of the bridge.  In addition to views of the fort and bridge, the park provides views of Bucksport and the Penobscot River.  Last May we spent time here watching seals feeding in the river a few yards off shore, although we didn't see any today.

Our total distance today was 1.7 miles.  The hike around the perimeter of the fort is on grass (and mud) and there is a paved road down to the bridge.  Here is the trail map.

The park offers nice views of Bucksport, the river, and distant mountains.

Its possible to get close to the river, but the area has strong currents.

Although the fort itself is closed, the batteries and tunnels remain open.  A flashlight is strongly advised.

My son exploring one of the many cannons in the park.

View of the Penobscot River from the road leading to the base of the bridge.

Penobscot Narrows Bridge.
Road to the base of the bridge.
Elevation profile of our hike.

View of the bridge and fort from across the river.

After the trip, we went to Bucksport and enjoyed the view of the fort and bridge.