LL Bean Parcel (Hampden)
I had use-or-lose leave at work so I took the day off to run some errands. I did a short local hike in the morning, exploring the 234 acre LL Bean Parcel in Hampden.
The Town of Hampden lists the Parcel on its website on a map of town-owned hunting lands. The town's map shows several "walking trails" on the property. The town's 2007 Forest Management Plan provides a detailed history of the property:
The parcel was owned by the US Government and served as a military installation until 1981. During that time, the primary management objective at that time was to support military training. Clearcutting was used to keep trees and brush from obscuring radar visibility from the training facility. In 1981, the parcel was granted to Ernest Sprowl and Salvatore Messina, who then transferred it to L.L. Bean, Inc. in 1989. In 2004, L.L. Bean granted the property to the Town of Hampden.
In a number of documents on the Town's website, it appears that a formal trail system was being considered for the property for several years. In its 2014 annual report, the Town notes that a local resident had constructed a parking lot to access the trails.
In spite of the attention that the property has received over the years, there is no signage and no formal trail markings. I initially entered the property from Route 202, walking along a dirt path and trying to following the trail map provided by the town. The initial section of trail was rough, overgrown and flooded at parts and felt more like being off-trail. I was able to find a more developed trail system further into the parcel, and at one point came across an old paved road from the military complex (see topo map from 1946 below). There was still an ammo bunker located on the property.
I spotted a few deer from a distance and spent some time watching a pileated woodpecker. I hiked a total distance of 2.5 miles.