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.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Kayaking on the Penobscot in Orrington

My work's outdoor club ventured out on kayaks this month, exploring the Penobscot River north of the Orrington boat launch. 

We set out against the wind, tide and river current, paddling upriver until we felt ready to turn around.  The return trip was significantly easier as we had the wind, current and tide all in our favor. 

Along the way, we spotted eagles, cormorants and osprey, as well as a few large fish that jumped completely clear of the water.

Here is a map of our trip.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Seal Watching at Fort Point State Park (plus Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory)

Where:  Fort Point State Park is located in Stockton Springs.  Fort Knox and the Observatory are located in Prospect.  The parks are within 15 minutes of each other and make a nice combined trip.

What:  Fort Point has a lighthouse, a historic earthenwork fort, views of the Penobscot River and Penobscot Bay, picnic facilities, hiking trails and a small beach.  Fort Knox is a large fort with views of the Penobscot River.  The Penobscot Narrows Observatory provides incredible views of the surrounding area from a height of over 400 feet.  
Trails:  At 120 acres, Fort Point is not large but has around a mile of trails.  Fort Knox has few "trails" but walking the entire property including the fort tunnels is over a mile.  The observatory has no trails but a small walkway, an overlook and an elevator to the top.  A paved road connects Fort Knox with the Observatory and can be driven or walked  

Tick Index:   For Fort Point, likely low to medium due to grassy trails, although the trails were well maintained.  For Fort Knox, low provided you stay on the walkways and paths. 


My son and I visited Fort Point State Park today.  We were treated to a group of approximately 10 seals and numerous seabirds feeding offshore in the outgoing tide.  The weather turned sunny just as we arrived at the park.  Here is a trail map from our Fort Point meanderings today.  We didn't hike all of the trails in the park as we had both run in the Champion for the Cure race the day before and had just come from exploring Fort Knox.   

I've covered Fort Knox in a previous post, although the last time we visited both the fort and the observatory were closed for the season.  Today both were open.  If you plan to visit Fort Knox, I'd recommend bringing a flashlight to explore the dark tunnels.  A trail map of our Fort Knox ramblings is here.    

Fort Point Lighthouse

Watching seals from the shoreline at Fort Point
Beach at Fort Point State Park.

Beach at Fort Point State Park.

The seals were clearly visible from our binoculars.  Here they look a bit like the Loch Ness Monster. 
View from the top of Fort Knox, with the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in the background.

Inside one of many tunnels at Fort Knox.
View from atop the Observatory.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sears Island Preserve

Where:  Searsport, Maine

What:  A variety of trail systems featuring coastal, woodland, shrub and wetland environments. 

Trails:  There are a number of trails running through the preserve, including a paved road, a double track, and narrow single track trails, some of which appear overgrown at the trailheads.   I did roughly 6.4 miles out to a cell phone tower and then around to a jetty and small beach.  There was little elevation gain.  Here is the trail map for my hike today.  For a map of trails in the park, visit the Friends of Sears Island website here.

Tick Index:  Low on paved path, moderate on double track due to high grass in areas, likely high on smaller trails due to high grass.

I went to Sears Island not knowing what to expect and without having done much advanced planning.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there.

A small causeway leads out to the island, and the road is blocked by a gate.  A paved roads runs most of the way to a jetty and small beach, and a double track trail splits off from the road around 1/2 mile into the island.  The map for the island showed "tower" on it, so I headed in this direction, hoping there would be a tower to climb at the end.  Unfortunately, there is a cell tower at the end, but the 2 mile hike was enjoyable nevertheless.  The path was overgrown in parts, however, so I found myself doing frequent tick checks (I didn't find any).   

After retracing my steps back to the paved road, I headed down to the jetty.  The paved portion goes most, but not all, of the way to the jetty.  When the pavement ends, it turns into a well-maintained pathway.  The path ends shortly before the shore with a short overgrown trail leading out to the beach and jetty.  

There are a number of smaller side trails from both the tower and jetty trails, but I found many of these were overgrown with tall grass.  

The island has an interesting history, which is explained in detail at the Friends website here.  Planned industrial development led to the causeway and road being built on the island. 

During my hike, I observed an osprey, bald eagle and pileated woodpecker. It was also possible to hear the clanging of the bell on a nearby buoy.  The preserve was not very crowded - there were a couple of runners and dog walkers.
The beach and jetty.

The path to the jetty, once the road ends.

The paved road.

The double track trail to the tower.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Trail Running in Bangor City Forest

I've been trail running the past two weeks as I've started training for a half-marathon in November.  Mostly this has been in the Bangor City Forest (5 mile route here, 4 mile routes here, here and here).  This is a great place to run since the trail system allows for a variety of different routes.  Bug spray and a hat (to prevent flies from attacking your head) come in handy.

The forest has miles of uncrowded trails.
Trail maps are located throughout the forest.
Bug spray is essential when visiting the forest.  This is the only natural product that I found actually works.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Isleboro and Vinalhaven

My younger son and I explored Maine's coastal islands this weekend, visiting Isleboro on Saturday and Vinalhaven on Sunday.  


The ferry to Isleboro runs every hour from Lincolnville, and only takes 20 minutes to make the crossing.  One thing I noticed on both the Isleboro and Vinalhaven ferries was that many people remain in their cars or in the cabin of the ferry during the crossing.  I stayed outside and was rewarded with views of harbor porpoises, seals and osprey.

Once on Isleboro, we visited the Turtle Head Preserve.  This is a small but beautiful preserve with expansive views of Penobscot Bay.  The preserve is at the end of Turtle Head Road.  There is no sign until you reach the parking lot for the preserve, and Turtle Head Road is marked as a private road.

Here is a trail map from our hike.

View from the northern tip of Isleboro in Turtle Head Preserve

The trails through Turtle Head Preserve are well defined.
After grabbing lunch at the local grocery store, we visited the Grindle Point Lighthouse.  There is a small museum (free, donations accepted) but the main attraction is climbing up inside the lighthouse itself.  From the top of the lighthouse there are 360 degree views of Isleboro, Warren Island, the ferry terminal and Penobscot Bay. 

View from atop Grindle Point Lighthouse.


The ferry from Rockland to Vinalhaven takes 75 minutes.  (Useful note: call a day in advance to get a "line number" from the Vinalhaven terminal, since you will need that to leave the island.)

Our first stop on Vinalhaven were Little Tip Toe and Big Tip Toe Mountains.  These are short hikes that lead to excellent views.  Little Tip Toe overlooks Crockett Cove and Isleboro.  From Big Tip Toe, you can see West Penobscot Bay and the mountains around Camden.  We parked at the small parking lot near Little Tip Toe and walked from one to the other along a trail.  Here is a map of our hike.
Summit of Little Tip Toe.

View from Little Tip Toe

View of Camden Hills from Big Tip Toe

Both summit trails were short but steep.  This is the trail to Big Tip Toe.

Sitting on top of Big Tip Toe enjoying the view.

After touring the island and getting lunch, we headed to Lanes Island Preserve.  Lanes Island Preserve is a coastal preserve with views of the island's rocky shoreline and access to a small sandy beach and picnic area.  A series of trails run through the preserve.  Here is a map of our hike. 

There is little shade along the trails at Lanes Island Preserve.