Friday, October 28, 2022

Arizona Trip - Agua Fria National Monument, Sonoran Desert National Monument, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.

My son attended a two day conference in Phoenix on Thursday and Friday this week so I accompanied him, and while he attended the conference I explored the Arizona desert.  

Thursday, October 27th

I started my trip with a hike at the 9,600 acre Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.  The preserve has 36 miles of trails through wild undeveloped desert.  
My next stop was the Badger Spring Trail in the Aqua Fria National Monument.  The 71,000 acre Bureau of Land Management (BLM) monument contains one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest in addition to a rich ecosystem.   Much of the monument requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle, but my low clearance rental Kia made it to the Badger Spring trailhead.  The trail follows a mostly dry creek bed - Badger Spring Wash - around 8/10 of a mile to the Agua Fria River.  At the confluence of the wash and the river is an impressive panel of petroglyphs carved into the rock.  
Friday, October 28th 

On Friday morning I explored a small portion of the 494,000 acre Sonoran Desert National Monument (SDNM) administered by the BLM.  Like Agua Fria, much of the SDNM is only accessible by high clearance 4x4 vehicles, but there are three parking areas along Highway 238 that provide access for the clearance-challenged.  

I parked at one such site, the West Butterfield Parking Area, and hiked into the monument, which includes part of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  

This was a beautiful hike and much more verdant than I had expected.  I followed the trail for the most part but did hike off trail near the start and towards the end of the hike.   I hiked up small rock hill, scaring a jackrabbit in the process.  I also located a few petroglyphs which I had not anticipated.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Bowden Point Easement (Prospect)

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife maintains an easement at the end of Bowden Point Road in Prospect that is open to the public.  I explored the area today, hiking a little over a mile down to the Penobscot River and back.  

There is little signage to indicate that this is even public land, other than a knocked over sign on Bowden Point Road and a yellow IFW "No Dumping" sign on the trail itself.  There also does not appear to be marked trails, although there are old grown over dirt roads on the property.  

After parking in the paved two car lot, I headed past large boulders marking the end of the road and continued straight on what initially was an old road.   The trail ended shortly thereafter so I followed a rough path through the woods (I realized on the way back I should have veared to the right on the way down, which would have connected me with a better trail).  

Eventually I found my way to the Penobscot River shoreline at a point abutting marked private property.  Getting to the shoreline while avoiding trespassing required a brief but manageable scramble down a short hill.  

This was an excellent walk through the woods leading to beautiful views from the shoreline.  Here is a map of my hike and here is a video taken from the shoreline.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Amherst Mountains Community Forest (Amherst)

I did a quick hike after work today to watch the sunset over Ducktail Pond in the Amherst Mountains Community Forest Public Reserved Land.   

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve (Atkinson)

I hiked five miles in the Alder Stream Wilderness Preserve this afternoon. The Preserve, which I briefly visited in the past, is managed by the Northeast Wilderness Trust and unlike other preserves does not have a maintained trail system. The 7,200 acre preserve does have miles of old logging roads, which are in the process of "rewilding" or being reclaimed by nature.   The roads are overgrown, so tick precautions are a must.

This was a great hike providing a remote feel despite being only 40 minutes from Bangor.  There was a brief section in the first mile where the adjoining wetland flowed onto the trail due to recent rains but waterproof boots made it passable.  

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Appreciating the Hermon Recreation Trail (Hermon)

I've walked the two mile Hermon Recreation Trail many times as it's close to home.  As I walked the trail today however I thought about the past three weeks and appreciated the trail that much more as a result.

On the trip out west my travel companions and I noted the lack of trees and the relatively barren landscape.  As great as the trip was, it is nice to return to our vibrant Maine woods.   

Having gotten sick on the return part of the trip I also appreciated just being able to get out and be healthy again.

And finally, having a busy weekend I appreciated having someplace local to escape to, if only for a brief time.  

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Piney Knoll Conservation Area (Orono)

Today was my first substantive hike since returning from Utah.  I chose the Piney Knoll Conservation Area since I was looking for something flat and easy after being sick for the past week. 

While I really loved my time in Utah, this was a nice walk to remind me of how beautiful Maine is in the fall.  As I tucked my pant legs into my socks to prevent against ticks I realized how grateful I am that Maine does not have the myriad numbers of poisonous and deadly animals in the southwestern United States.

The 57 acre Piney Knoll Conservation Area has over 3 miles of well maintained forested trails.  I hiked 1.5 miles today and did not see anyone else while there.