Sunday, July 31, 2022

Cycling the Medford Lagrange Rail Trail

We cycled 15 miles on the Medford Lagrange Rail Trail this morning, starting at Hill Crest Cemetery and riding to the Trestle Road Bridge in Medford, returning the same way.  We encountered minimal ATV traffic and those that we did encounter were polite.  

The trail was flat and well packed for the most part, with only occasional sections of rock and sand.   

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Kayaking Penobscot River (Hampden to Bangor)

I kayaked 6.5 miles today on the Penobscot River from Hamlin's Marina in Hampden to the railroad bridge downstream from EMMC.   

It was a beautiful day and I timed my trip so that I'd turn around when the tide changed.  While this is a fun place to kayak, the amount of abandoned industrial and marine equipment lining the shore (and underwater) is disheartening.   

Friday, July 29, 2022

Kayaking South Branch Marsh River (Frankfort)

A friend and I kayaked tonight after work on the south branch of the Marsh River, paddling 1.75 miles roundtrip from the Bangor Road boat launch to the Penobscot River.   It was a perfect night with an incoming tide and we were surrounded by schools of jumping fish.   

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Ash Landing Trail, Sunkhaze NWR (Milford)

At 0.2 miles (0.4 roundtrip), the Ash Landing Trail is the shortest of the four formal trails in Sunkhaze National Wildlife Refuge.  It was, however, better maintained than either than Johnson Brook or Oak Point Trails, both of which I stopped at first before deciding to hike Ash Landing.   (The other two trails had abundant tall grass and I didn't feel like dealing with ticks today).

The Ash Landing Trail leads through a forest, briefly onto a boardwalk, and out to the bank of Sunkhaze Stream.  

Saturday, July 16, 2022

North Carolina Trip (Mount Mitchell, Black Mountain Campground, Crabtree Falls Campground, Blue Ridge Parkway)

My son and I traveled to North Carolina this week to hike Mount Mitchell (the tallest mountain on the east coast), camp and visit family.   

Our first stop was the Black Mountain Campground, adjacent to the South Toe River and sitting at the base of 6,684 foot Mount Mitchell.  At 3,000 feet elevation, the US Forest Service campground is cooler than central and coastal parts of the state.  There are 40 campsites each with picnic tables, tent pads, lantern posts and campfire rings with grills. There are hot showers, clean restrooms with flush toilets and an office selling firewood, ice, and a small selection of souvenirs.

We woke early Friday morning, broke camp ànd started the 6.4 mile ascent up Mount Mitchell from the parking lot across from the campground.

This was an awesome hike under a forested canopy almost the entire time.   The first several miles were through a forest of flowering rhododendrons.  At three miles we refilled our water bottles with filtered water from Setrock Creek.   There were only occasional views on the way to the summit, mostly from a clearcut section where power lines climb the mountain.  Once we neared the summit we began to encounter visitors to Mount Mitchell State Park that had driven the road up to the summit.  

The summit features a viewing platform, porta potties, a snack bar and a gift shop.  The snack bar offered sandwiches, chips, sweets and most importantly water.  

This was a challenging hike due to it's length and vertical ascent, although we both felt it was easier than Katahdin or Mount Washington.  Our total round-trip distance was 12.8 miles.  

We spent Friday night at Crabtree Falls Campground, a National Park Service campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Unlike many campgrounds, it allows one night weekend stays during the summer, likely due to the linear nature of the Blue Ridge Parkway.   The campground has flush toilets and drinking water, and each site has a picnic table and fire ring.  Our campsite was surrounded by flowering rhododendrons, which hummed from pollinating bees.  This was a nice campground but lacked showers and the restrooms were not well maintained.  

We spent Saturday exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading to Charlotte to visit family.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Fore River Sanctuary (Portland)

I drove my son to meet some friends in Portland today and used the opportunity to hike 3.7 miles in the Fore River Preserve in Portland.  

The 85-acre preserve managed by Portland Trails feels much larger, and is home to Jewell Falls, Portland’s only natural waterfall.  It also contains the former Cumberland and Oxford Canal, salt and freshwater marshs and miles of trails.   

Jewell Falls was little more than a trickle today due to the recent dry weather.   

Mariaville Falls Preserve

Friends and I hiked the 1.5 mile trail system at Mariaville Falls Preserve this morning.  I had previously hiked this trail with my son in September 2020 but the water level was higher this time of year.   

Monday, July 4, 2022

Camden Hills State Park - Mount Megunticook, Zeke's Lookout, Cameron Mountain, Bald Rock Mountain

I did a 12.7 loop hike at Camden Hills State Park today, summitting Mount Megunticook, Zeke's Lookout, Cameron Mountain, and Bald Rock Mountain.

Remarkably despite it being the 4th of July, getting a late (10am) start and being a beautifully sunny 70° day, I encountered very few people in the park and less than a dozen people after Mount Megunticook.  

The trail up Mount Megunticook climbs steadily through the forest until opening up to expansive views, first from Adam's Lookout and then Ocean Lookout.  The trail then reenters the woods to the mountain's forested summit.   
I continued past the summit to Zeke's Lookout and Cameron Mountain, not seeing another person until reaching the base of Bald Rock Mountain.  

Zeke's Lookout is reached via a 0.1 mile steep spur trail.  The summit overlooks Bald Rock Mountain.
The Cameron Mountain Trail appears lightly used and infrequently maintained as grass had grown knee high along it in spots until reaching the short spur leading to the mountain's summit.   Cameron's summit offers almost 360° views of the surrounding mountains and lakes, and the path to the summit is lined with blueberry bushes.  
Bald Rock Mountain was surprisingly empty.  I passed two groups on the way to the summit but the summit itself was empty.  I descended down the back of the mountain and took the Frohock Mountain Trail to the Ski Shelter Trail on the way back.  

Sunday, July 3, 2022