Sunday, March 28, 2021

Penobscot Experimental Forest (Bradley)

The Penobscot Experimental Forest (PEF) consists of approximately 3,800 acres in Bradley and Eddington owned by the University of Maine and co-managed with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  The PEF was created in 1950 through a unique agreement between the USFS and several forestry products companies.  The land was subsequently donated by the companies to UMaine, which manages it with USFS primarily for research and education.  

I hiked three miles at the PEF this morning, starting out at a small parking lot on Government Road at a locked gate just past the Maine Forest and Logging Museum.  Although not overly scenic in a traditional sense, this is an interesting place to walk in that it provides an opportunity to view forests in different stages of development.  The forest also provides excellent wildlife habitat. 

Here is a map of today's hike from the parking area to Blackman Stream.   

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Meadow Brook Preserve and Swan Lake State Park (Swanville)

My sons and I went on two hikes in Swanville today. Here is a map of our hikes. 

We started at Meadow Brook Preserve, a 372 acre wooded preserve managed by the Coastal Mountains Land Trust.  We took the Hauk-Fry trail (2 miles total), a well marked trail traversing through woodlands, occasionally over log walkways, leading out to views of Meadow Brook and the Hurd's Pond watershed.  The trail was easy to follow and an easy walk.  At the end of the trail there is a picnic table overlooking Meadow Brook with views of a large beaver lodge.  A small section of the trail crosses the brook to the opposite shoreline; however, due to the recent warm temperatures and snow melt, the trail was underwater and impassable. 


We next visited Swan Lake State Park.   Best known for its lakefront beach, the park in the winter provides solitude and a chance to walk along the shore of Swan Lake without crowds.  The front gate of the park was closed, so the roundtrip distance from the road to the shoreline and around the park totaled 1.7 miles.  

Monday, March 22, 2021

Book Review: Hiking Acadia National Park (A Falcon Guide)

This past weekend two hikers from Massachusetts were found dead on Dorr Mountain in Acadia.  This incident made me realize how appreciative I am for the Hiking Acadia National Park book that I picked up this past winter.  Around two and a half weeks ago on March 4th I had been hiking after work on the Kane Path and had considered hiking up Dorr Mountain.   I quickly consulted the guide (which I've downloaded to the Nook app on my phone) and saw it was "strenuous to expert" and had iron rungs and ladders.  Given the extensive ice, time of day, and my lack of ice climbing experience and equipment, I continued my pleasant walk along the flat Kane Path.
The book is a trove of information about almost all of the trails in Acadia National Park from short easy walks to the most challenging hikes and climbs. For each it provides a summary, narrative description, map and photographs. The narratives are entertaining and descriptive and provide a clear picture of what to expect for each hike.  The added benefit of having it in ebook format on my phone enables me to adapt quickly if we arrive at Acadia and find that our plans need to change because of a trail closure.

To be clear, I'm not judging the hikers that passed away on the mountain last weekend.  I know nothing about them or their qualifications and they may have been expert ice climbers.  It just struck home that they died on the same mountain I considered hiking just a short time ago, and that I may have at least started to attempt were it not for this book.  

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Schooner Head Overlook, Sand Beach and Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park

Matty and I did a quick photography trip to Acadia today, visiting a few quick areas off one of the two areas of Park Loop Road that is open in the winter, the area between Schooner Head Overlook and Great Head.  Despite temperatures approaching 60 degrees, there were not that many people visiting this area, allowing us the opportunity to enjoy a part of the park that is usually overrun with visitors in the summertime. 

Our first stop was the Schooner Head Overlook.  A short 1/2 mile paved and gravel path leads to dramatic views of the shoreline, including a sea cave, some interesting rock formations, and a prominent house overlooking the ocean.  

Our next stop was Sand Beach. The sand beach is surrounded by dramatic shoreline on both sides, and the absence of visitors made it that much more beautiful.  

Our final destination of our short trip was Thunder Hole and again had the spot to ourselves.  The dramatic sound of the waves crashing was amplified by the lack of human noise.  

Saturday, March 20, 2021

South Ridge Trail, Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Ryan and I hiked the South Ridge trail up Cadillac Mountain today.  The roughly 3.5 mile trail climbs gradually up to the summit, starting initially through a wooded forest before opening up to an expansive open rock area.  There was still ice on parts of the trail, but for the most part we were able to ascend without using ice cleats.  Interestingly, the hardest part of the hike, requiring a bit of rock scrambling and having the most ice, occurred almost near the summit and immediately after seeing the road for the first time.  

It was amazing to be at the top of Cadillac Mountain with no cars and only a handful of other people there, all of whom had hiked up.  

We descended using the Cadillac Mountain Road and then traveled along a combination of flat trails and the closed Park Loop Road to return to the trailhead.  This was significantly longer but the 13 mile hike allowed Ryan to complete a requirement for the hiking merit badge.  

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Peaked Mountain and Eagles Bluff (Clifton)

I did two hikes in Clifton today.

In the morning I hiked Peaked Mountain (aka Chick Hill) with friends.   The trail is a dirt cell tower service road that provides a good workout.   The trail was muddy and icy, and cleats were helpful at times.  There are excellent views from the summit.

Matty and I hiked Eagles Bluff in the afternoon.   I've hiked this trail many times, and have blogged about it previously, but it is such a beautiful trail offering views from the top of the bluff as well as the base of the cliff.  Today the combination of ice and mud made ascending and descending challenging but with ice cleats, hiking poles and lots of patients we managed well.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Flying Mountain Trail and Bass Harbor Head Light Trail, Acadia National Park

Matty and I visited the western side of Acadia today, exploring the Flying Mountain and Bass Harbor Head Light trails.  

Although only 284 feet at its summit, Flying Mountain offers beautiful views of Somes Sound and the mountains of Acadia. The hike is relatively easy and can be combined with other trails in the area to visit Acadia and St Sauveur Mountains.  Today we focused on Flying Mountain as its a lower risk winter hike (i.e. less chance of plunging off an ice covered cliff).

The trail starts from a small parking lot up a series of steps and rocks until reaching the summit 0.3 miles later.  The summit offers great views to the south and east. The trail then proceeds over the top of the mountain offering views of the Sound until dropping back down and meeting up with the Valley Cove Trail.  The trail had extensive ice on it and ice cleats were essential.  
The total hike was around 1.8 miles.  

It was fun to visit Bass Harbor Head Light in the off season since every time I've been there in the past the parking lot was full.  Today we had the place to ourselves. There are two paths to see the lighthouse.  The first is a paved path to the right of the parking lot that provides a close-up view of the west side of the building.  The second path is a short gravel path leading to a series of stairs down to the rocky shoreline under the east side of the lighthouse.    Both paths combined totaled around 0.4 miles.