Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The preserve’s main trail, the Blue Trail, travels over fairly even terrain. From the trailhead, around the loop and back is about 3 miles.
How to get there: From the Stillwater Avenue-Essex Street intersection in Bangor, drive about 4 miles north on Essex Street, passing Church Road on your left. Take you next right onto Walden Parke Way at the entrance of the Edgewood Subdivision. Take the next right onto Tamarack Trail (a road). At the end of Tamarack Trail is a small parking area, a Bangor Land Trust kiosk and the trailhead.
Information: The Walden-Parke Preserve, 205 acres of forest and wetlands in the northeast corner of Bangor, was donated to the Bangor Land Trust in 2005 by Fritz and Caroline Oldenburg and Dennis and Jane Shubert (Walden Parke, LLC). The property features a large beaver wetland, hardwood and softwood forests, verbal pools and a portion of Caribou Bog.
The Blue Trail — marked with blue diamond signs and blue blazes — is the main trail in the preserve. It is the only trail marked on the preserve map. This trail is wide and great for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking.
Branching off from the Blue Trail are several side trails, which people are welcome to explore, according to Bangor Land Trust President Lucy Quimby. Visitors are asked to stay on the trails to minimize impact on the natural environment and disturbance of wildlife.
From the trailhead kiosk, walk down the Blue Trail and you will soon notice an open area of downed trees to your left. This is beaver habitat, which is described as “Beaverworks” on the preserve map. Look closely at stumps beside the trail; you will see that they have been gnawed to a point. Bring binoculars to see beaver lodges in the distance.
Where water flows through a culvert under the trail, you will see a fence enclosure, which is called a “beaver deceiver.” The structure was finished in fall 2007 to prevent the preserve’s many beavers from placing material in the culvert, thus flooding the trail. The Bangor Land Trust has been keeping an eye on the beaver deceiver for five years, and for five years it has worked well to keep the beavers away from the culvert. In fact, the beavers made no effort to dam up the culvert until this winter, said Quimby. While on a Christmas walk, she noticed that beavers had dammed all around the fence and raised the water level considerably. The dam had to be removed to restore flowage through the culvert.
“Ordinarily I hate to disturb beavers’ water levels once the ice has formed, because they depend on having under-ice access to their winter food supply,” Quimby said. “In this case, we were not disturbing access to a food cache, nor to a beaver lodge.”
Past the Beaverworks, the Blue Trail splits and a loop begins (also marked with blue blazes and diamonds). If you start the loop on the right, you will notice the deciduous forest (mainly birch) gives way to small conifer trees. Eventually, the trail will bring you to a kiosk at the old Veazie Railroad bed.
At the kiosk, turn left to continue on the Blue Trail route, which travels for a distance on the railroad bed. You’ll enjoy a stretch of wetlands before the railroad bed is lined with trees. After more than 0.5 mile on the railroad bed, a kiosk for the preserve will appear to your left, where the Blue Trail plunges back into the forest.
The trail appears to split after the kiosk. Take the more-traveled trail to the left. Faded blue blazes will soon assure you that you’re on the right trail. Eventually, you will loop back around to the fork, where you’ll veer right onto the main trail and travel back to the trailhead.
Dogs are allowed on the Blue Trail only and must be on leashes at all times, said Quimby. People are asked to pick up after their pets, keeping the trail and forest clean for other visitors and wildlife.
Trail use is free, but people can donate to Bangor Land Trust, thus becoming a member, by mailing a check to PO Box 288, Bangor, ME, 04401. Members receive newsletters and are placed on an e-mail list for walks and other events. Anyone interested in volunteering can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to receive emails of volunteer opportunities in the trust’s seven preserves. For information, call the Bangor Land Trust at 942-1010 or visit www.bangorlandtrust.org.
Personal note: While hiking in the preserve on Jan. 20, 2013, I saw a man cross-country skiing with his golden retriever, a family walking along the path with their large, wolfish dog, and a young man snowshoeing with his black Labrador mix (as far as I can tell). It seems like a popular place for people to enjoy some fresh air. Since the trail is wide, it’s also a great place to enjoy the midday sun.
At the beginning of the hike, I almost mistook the “beaver deceiver” as a beaver trap. I don’t know much about trapping, but with all the wires, it sure looked like a trap to me. Then I noticed the “No Trapping” sign posted next to the fencing. I still had no idea what I was looking at until I spoke with Quimby.
I chose the close-to-home Blue Trail hike because I was still recovering from a cold and I didn’t want to attempt anything too challenging. The Blue Trail is a fairly easy hike, yet halfway through the 3-mile trek, I was stumbling, yawning and getting cranky. So I shrugged off my coat, laid it out and slumped down in the snow. But then I ate a delicious trail mix of walnuts, almonds, cranberries, cherries, pecans and yogurt-covered raisins — Wholesome Goodness “Yukon Mix” — and was visited by a hairy woodpecker, and all was right with the world again.
For a gallery of some photos, click here: http://actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com/2013/01/21/gallery/where-in-the-woods-am-i-40/