1-minute hike: Triplet Park in Unity

Difficulty: Easy. The wide, grassy paths of Triplet Park travel over even terrain and make up less than 0.5 mile of walking. A wide boardwalk leads out of the park to the nearby Bartlett Shore Trail, which is a bit longer than 1 mile and leads to the shore of Unity Pond. (However, on Aug. 3, 2014, the connection between Triplet Park Trail and Bartlett Shore Trail was blocked by construction.)

tripletpark080614-1How to get there: From the intersection of Route 9 and Route 139 (School Street) in Unity, drive on Route 139 for less than 0.1 mile to the Unity Community Center on the left. Park in the community center’s parking lot and cross Route 139 on foot to reach Wood Lane. Walk down Wood Lane and Triplet Park will be on your left, marked with a large wooden sign.

Information: Triplet Park is a beautiful, peaceful place born out of a tragic event.

The park is named after 6-year-old triplet boys — Joshua, Marcus and Brydon Freyer — who died in a fire that destroyed their home on Wood Lane in Unity on Jan. 12, 2000. Triplet Park is also a memorial to former Fire Chief Robert “Jonesy” Jones, who fought the fire and died after having a heart attack on scene.

tripletpark080614-2With support from the community, the Freyer and White families and Unity Barn Raisers held a series of fundraisers, including an all-day fair in which every organization in town participated, to raise approximately $7,700 to build the park. Construction began in May 2002.

Over the years, volunteers have continued to maintain and expand this local gem. The local fire department built a monument for Jones on the site. And in 2006, a boardwalk connecting Triplet Park to the old grammar school and entrance of Bartlett Shore Trail was built by Don and Patricia Newell and Melissa Bastien.

Today, the park is a perfect place for families. Along a network of short, meandering paths are educational signs with information about butterflies and a few other critters that frequent the park. These signs are numbered so people can read them in order like a story walk.

tripletpark080614-3Flower gardens, apple trees, raised bed vegetable gardens, gazebos and benches are located throughout the property. Three features that are especially whimsical in the park are a tunnel built of woven saplings; a bird feeder made to look like a train; and a “hobbit hole,” which is a shed fashioned after dwellings inhabited by fantasy creatures called hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.” The structure was designed and built by Wooden Wonders, a business in Unity.

Over the years, flowers, berries and vegetables have been planted and harvested by groups of area children, according to the Unity Barn Raisers. Milkweed, thistles and other plants attract butterflies and other pollinating insects to the gardens.

tripletpark080614-4The park is highly supported by the Unity Barn Raisers, a nonprofit community organization with open membership that “works to enhance the small town character and rural environment” of Unity while “nurturing a thriving community-based economy.” To learn more, call 948-9005 or visit http://www.unitybarnraisers.org/.

For a map of Unity trails, visit www.unity.edu/about_unity/maps_and_directions and select “Town of Unity Trails Map.”

Personal note: I stumbled upon Triplet Park on Aug. 3 after fleeing from the nearby Connor Mill Trail, where my boyfriend Derek and our dog Oreo stumbled into a patch of stinging nettle, which, if you don’t know, makes you itch like crazy. Hoping to spend a few more hours outside, we looked at a map of Unity trails and found Triplet Park.

Therefore, I hadn’t done any research on the park ahead of time. I didn’t know the sad story behind its creation. For us, it was a place to recover, relax and enjoy the sun. It also turned out to be a wonderful place to take photos of the scenery, flowers, birds and various insects. As I chased butterflies and bees, Derek walked Oreo along the paths or relax on the benches and soft grass.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.