On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I gave a presentation, “Canine Hiking Buddies & Bangor Area Treks,” at the Bangor Public Library, hosted by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Its always hard to predict how many people will show up at these types of
events, but I planned for 30 people, tops. To my surprise, AMC staff ended up counting 74 people in the audience! I was overjoyed. But I also felt bad for only bringing 30 copies of two handouts: “Tips for hiking with dogs” and “Bangor-area treks.” So I decided to post both handouts here, for those who didn’t receive them at the talk and for other people who might be interested. And what’s more, this version will have links to relevant information.
Tips for hiking with dogs
Think before letting your dog off leash. Follow park/trail rules. And don’t let your dog off leash in a public area that allows unleashed dogs unless you can call your dog back in any situation.
Reasons to consider keeping your dog on leash: some leashed dogs on the trail aren’t friendly; porcupines; ground-nesting birds; delicate plants; dangerous terrain such as cliffs and partially frozen bodies of water.
Tricks of using a leash. Using a leash can be frustrating, especially when you own a dog that pulls a lot (like Oreo). Get a leash with a loop at the end that’s big enough to slide over your foot. I do this when I want to take photo and video without the camera shaking. On some trails, you can use a long leash, which allows your dog to run more freely while still having control. Consider wrapping your leash around a tree if you see wildlife. And keep the leash short around other hikers, cliffs, thin ice — anything your dog should not be approaching.
Pick up your dog’s poop. Dog waste carries tons of bacteria and can carry a laundry list of diseases that could affect other wildlife. Plus, no one wants to step on your dog’s poop. Carry in, carry out. Bring two plastic bags to lock in the odor and tie it on the back of your pack.
Dog hiking gear: Extra water and a bowl (I have Maine-made Guyot Designs Squishy Bowl), medical tape for any cut paws, treats and poop bags. In the summer, you’ll want dog-friendly bug repellant (I use Maine-made Skeeter Skidaddler) and tick defense (usually veterinarians has the most effective kind). During the winter, your dog may need a coat (Oreo wears a custom fleece coat made by the Bangor business Dogn’i), booties or a salve (I use Musher’s Secret and Bag Balm). During the fall, your dog needs to wear blaze orange.
Dog hiking packs aren’t necessary but they can give your dog a job to do. Some brands that make them are Ruff Wear, Mountainsmith, Wolf Packs, Kurgo and Granite Gear.
Some trails do not permit dogs. Do your research before traveling to a trail with your pup so you don’t feel tempted to break the rules. The majority of trails in Maine are open to dogs, but some wildlife sanctuaries and delicate habitats are off limits to dogs.
Keeping your dog safe and healthy. Know the number of the nearest veterinarian to your hike, just in case of an emergency. Check your dogs for ticks after every outing; dogs can get Lyme disease. Check your dog for cuts on a regular basis. Consider using a harness to have better control of your dog and protect his/her chest from underbrush.
There is no way I could cover all the great trails in the Bangor area. Just in Bangor, I can think of the Walden-Parke Preserve, Essex Woods, Kenduskeag Stream Trail, Prentiss Woods, Bangor City Forest, Central Penjajawoc Preserve, Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve and Brown Woods. And I’m sure there are more. So here are a few of my favorite places to walk in the wilderness with in hour of Bangor.
Bangor City Forest, also known as the Rolland F. Perry City Forest, has 4 miles of access roads and 9 miles of trails. Great for beginner geocachers. Open year round. The trails are easy-moderate. Free. Open to dogs except for the Orono Bog Boardwalk, which is a must-see.
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Milford is great for quiet walks and wildlife watching. Open year round. Some trails: Johnson Brook Trail, Carter Meadow Road Trail and Oak Point Trail. Trails are easy-moderate. Free. Open to dogs.
Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton (beside Old Town) has a 7-mile trail system that is great for wildlife watching. A refuge naturalist organizes a schedule of nature programs throughout the year. Free canoe rental. Open year round. Free. Dogs are not allowed.
Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden is excellent for bird watching. The center hold nature programs regularly. The trails travel through meadow and mature forest to the edge of Fields Pond. Open year round. Free. Dogs are not allowed.
Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland is a 4,500-acre preserve in two parcels: Dead River and Hothole Valley. Great Pond Mountain, which offers great views of the area, is the most popular hike, but there are also trails up Flag Hill, Oak Hill, Flying Moose Mountain and Mead Mountain. Open year round but some roads closed in the winter and during week days. Free. Dogs are allowed on most trails.
Amherst Mountains Community Forest in Amherst is a 5,000-acre preserve that has trails to the top of Bald Bluff Mountain (1,011 feet) and the pristine Partridge and Ducktail ponds. Camping sites. Free. Open to dogs.
Moose Point State Park in Searsport has three well-groomed trails that lead along the ocean. Picnic spots. Great spot to see eagles and other wildlife drawn to the ocean. Rocky beach with access. Small fee. Open to dogs. Nearby is Sandy Point Beach Park (open to dogs) and Fort Point State Park (open to dogs) in Stockton Springs.
Birdsacre in Ellsworth is a bird rehabilitation center, but it’s also home to a network of beautiful trails. The 200-acre wildlife sanctuary is open year round. Free. Dogs are allowed beyond the owl shelters. Also in Ellsworth, Woodlawn trail network (open to dogs) and Branch Lake Public Forest (open to dogs).
Blue Hill Mountain (934 feet) in Blue Hill is a popular place for people to hike. Five trails on the mountain. Great views at the top. Free. Open to dogs.
Donnell Pond Unit is 15,000-plus acres of reserved land near Franklin. The land has beautiful, moss woods strewn with boulders, as well as several mountains and bodies of water. Trails lead up Caribou Mountain, Catherine Mountain, Tunk Mountain, Black Mountain and Schoodic Mountain. Trails are easy to strenuous, depending on what you take. The trail leading to ponds at the foot of Tunk Mountain are a good easy option. Free. Open to dogs.
Pigeon Hill in Steuben is only 317 feet above sea level but offers stunning views on an open summit. Two short trails – easy-moderate – lead to the summit. Free. Dogs are allowed. Also see the nearby trails of the Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island is home to miles and miles of carriage roads and trails that range from easy to strenuous. Some of my favorite hikes: Great Head Trail (along rocky coastline), North Ridge Trail up Cadillac Mountain, Beech Mountain (observation tower), Pemetic Mountain, Dorr Mountain, Precipice and Beehive. Don’t overlook Acadia National Park’s mainland section in Winter Harbor; Schoodic Head is an amazing hike with great views. Small fee. Open to dogs.
Borestone Mountain in Elliotsville Township rises 1,974 feet above sea level on a 1,600-acre preserve. Great view from the top. The hike is less than 4 miles but can be strenuous and steep. Beginners can hike the Base Trail (0.8 mile) and end their hike at Sunrise Pond and the visitor center. Small fee. Open year round. Open to dogs.
Barren Mountain in Elliotsville Township rises 2,670 feet above sea level and is a strenuous 7.5-mile hike. It is one of the many peaks visited by Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. The mountain has several amazing outlooks, including an impressive rock slide, and it’s topped by an old fire tower. Free. Open to dogs.