Matty and I spent the weekend in Aroostook and northern Penobscot County. This was our last trip of the summer before Matty heads off to college.
Saturday July 31
We took Route 11 north from Bangor to our first stop, Hedgehog Mountain in Winterville. Hedgehog Mountain is a short but steep 0.7 mile trail that starts at a rest area on Route 11 and ends at a summit offering amazing views of the St. John Valley.
After the hike, we drove to Aroostook State Park and set up camp. Aroostook State Park is a beautiful park with miles of trails (including two mountain summits), a lake and a very nice campground. The campground features hot showers, running water and a kitchen area with sinks, electrical outlets and picnic tables in a covered building.
After setting up camp, we went fishing in Echo Lake. Within five minutes Matty hooked a nice sized brook trout. We also caught around a dozen catfish. We released all of the fish we caught.
After dinner we did a five mile hike on the Bangor and Aroostook Rail Trail and the Salmon Brook Lake Bog Public Reserved Land. We parked at the Perham Town Office and walked around 1.25 miles north on the rail trail before coming to a side trail entering the preserve. The initial section of trail is a wide ATV trail with well built wood bridges leading to a small covered picnic area adjacent to the lake. From there, a hiking trail continues north through woods between the lake and the rail trail. The trail was half board bridges and half forest floor, and there was significant evidence of moose (see footprints next to board bridges below). Around 1/2 mile from the picnic area there is an observation deck with sweeping views of the lake. The trail then leads back to the rail trail. For more information on Salmon Brook Lake Bog visit https://www.nrcm.org/explore-
Sunday August 1st
On Sunday morning we visited the Aroostook Wildlife Refuge and went on short hikes off of the auto road.
The Beaver Pond Trail is a short trail through woods to a bench overlooking a small pond.
The Bunker Trail is at the end of the auto road and provides an opportunity to walk and explore the bunkers previously used to store weapons. This flat paved path passes several bunkers, most of which are opened (and empty). There is an observation blind looking out over East Loring Lake. There was abundant bird life and we observed bear scat along the path. We also heard a very large animal nearby in the woods but were unable to see what it was.
The Lima Trail is a 1.25 mile loop trail starting and ending at the visitor center. The trail travels through a variety of habitats including wooded forests and wetlands. There is an observation blind overlooking one of the wetland areas. During the hike I observed a hawk land and take off from a nearby branch.
Here is a map of our three hikes at the refuge.
The auto road is a three mile wildlife drive starting at the refuge's visitor center and ending at the site of a historic weapons storage area from when the area was Loring Air Force Base. The storage area can now be driven through and there is an informative display about its history and role as a top secret nuclear weapons storage base in the Cold War.
In the afternoon we visited the south end of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and hiked on three trails. This was our first visit to the south end, and we were surprised by how rough the access road to the park was. The dirt road is a private logging road, and the road's owner makes it clear through multiple signs along the route that he does not support the national park.
The road improved somewhat once we fully entered the park, although it was still rough in spots. Our first hike was the Esker Trail, which starts near the gate to the Loop Road and ends near parking for the Deasey Pond Trail. The trail gradually gains elevation before leveling out atop the esker (Wikipedia has a nice explanation of what an esker is here.) This was a pleasant trail through woods, with evidence of moose activity along the way. Rather than retracing our steps we took the park road back to our car. The round-trip distance was 9/10 of a mile.
We then hiked the Deasey Pond Trail. This is a newly created trail that travels through woods before descending to a viewing platform overlooking Deasey Pond. The round-trip hike was 1.33 miles.
Our final "hike" was a short 2/10 mile walk to Lynx Pond. This was a nice wide gravel path leading a viewing platform. We watched a pair of beavers busily chewing branches, undisturbed by our presence.
Here is a map of our Katahdin Woods and Waters hikes.