Difficulty: Easy. The trail network is about 1.7 miles total.
How to get there: From Stillwater Avenue near the Bangor Mall, drive to the intersection of Stillwater Avenue, Hogan Road and the entrance to Walmart. Continue straight through the intersection. Shortly after the intersection, turn left onto Kittredge Road. Drive about 1 mile. You will see a Bangor Land Trust kiosk on the left just before the pavement ends. (You might miss the kiosk because it is set back into the woods.) Park at the side of the road, well out of the way of traffic.
Information: The Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve, an 80.5 acre parcel of woodland and wetland near the northeast corner of Bangor, was purchased in 2006-2007 by the Bangor Land Trust, with support from the Land for Maine’s Future Program and North American Wetlands Conservation Funds. Located beside the Bangor City Forest, this preserve includes a network of trails for hiking and biking. Since the land’s purchase, Bangor Land Trust has been focused on trail remediation to protect the wetlands and make the trails nicer for recreation. The trail network, which resembles a figure-eight, connects to the old Veazie Railroad bed, which you can then follow to Walden-Parke Preserve or the City Forest.
The preserve contains 18.4 acres of wetlands, including three of state significance: the northeast tip of Penjajawoc Marsh, a vernal pool and a tributary marsh. Penjajawoc Stream runs into Penjajawoc Marsh. “Penjajawoc” is an Abenaki name perhaps meaning “current falling down raggedly,” according to “Native American Placenames of the United States” by William Bright, published in 2004 by the University of Oklahoma Press.
Six wooden signs mark “nature stations” of different habitats within the preserve. Station 1 marks an upland forest of red oak, northern hardwood and white pine, a nesting habitat for many songbirds. Station 2 is a cattail marsh; Station 3, a riparian forest, where an upland forest borders a small stream that flows into Penjajawoc Marsh; Station 4, an aspen-bird forest that is home to snowshoe hare, beaver and ruffed grouse (which scared the me witless with the loud sound of their wings when I accidentally spooked them); Station 5, a vernal pool, an important habitat to certain amphibians; and Station 6, a mixed graminoid-shrub marsh, a breeding ground for amphibians, nesting habitat for wading birds, and home to rare reptiles such as the spotted turtle.
Trail use is free year-round. Dogs are allowed on the trails, but clean up after them and keep them on a leash to protect wildlife, plant life and other visitors. This small trail network is great for mountain biking. A simple trail map is posted at each trail intersection to help hikers and cyclists orient themselves. Visitors can pick up maps and information about the nature stations at the Bangor Land Trust office at 8 Harlow Street in Bangor or online at www.bangorlandtrust.org/northeast-penajawoc-trail-map.html. For information, call the Bangor Land Trust at 941-1010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal note: On Sunday, Sept. 9, I spent hours slowly walking along each trail on the preserve map; so I had the time to notice quite a bit. First of all, there are a lot of birds in there. I’ll give a special shout out to the many noisy chickadees. Also, an army (or so it seemed) of red squirrels were making it rain acorn while harvesting their winter stash. If you explore the side trail to check out the marsh, keep your eyes on your feet. I almost crushed a few leaping frogs. This trail network is beautiful, well-maintained, small, easy to navigate and the perfect spot to admire wildlife.