Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The entire hike, including the bog boardwalk (out and back), is 2.4 miles, according to the trail map. Challenges of the trail include many bog bridges, a couple narrow bridges spanning streams, exposed tree roots and uneven ground. Change in elevation is minimal.
How to get there: A large paved parking area for the trail is located at the end of Gateway Center Drive, which is on the west side of Route 3 in Trenton. To get there from Ellsworth, start where Route 1-Route 3 split and take Route 3 south toward Mount Desert Island. Drive for about 4.9 miles to Gateway Center Drive, a wide paved road that will be on your right. Drive to the parking area at the end of the drive, at the turnaround. The trail kiosk and trailhead are visible from the parking area.
Information: Trenton Community Trail is a woodland footpath that officially opened to the public in the spring of 2013, with an inaugural celebration in June. It’s maintained by the Trenton Parks and Recreation Committee, with assistance from Friends of Acadia, a nonprofit group known best for its conservation and trail work at the nearby Acadia National Park.
The trail isn’t simply an out-and-back trail. Starting at the trailhead, it leads 0.5 mile into the forest over many bog bridges, including two bridges that span brooks. At 0.5 mile, the trail splits into a loop, which is 1.2 miles long, according to the trail map at the trailhead and in a brochure provided by Friends of Acadia (however, a sign on the trail state that the loop is 1.1 miles long). At the far end of the loop is a 0.1-mile spur trail to a boardwalk that leads to an observation platform in a native dwarf shrub bog. The main trail is marked with blue blazes, and the spur trail to the bog boardwalk is marked with white blazes.
Several old woods roads criss-cross the trail. For example, not far from the trailhead, the trail appears to fork at the “Trenton Community Forest” sign. The left path is
actually an old woods road that reconnects to the trail farther along. (Visitors are welcome to explore it). The right path is the actual trail, marked with blue blazes.
A few wooden chairs are located along the trail, as well as detailed educational displays about wildlife and plantlife of the area. Also, the Hancock County Master Gardener Volunteers have started labeling plants along the trail, from the highbush blueberry bushes near the trailhead to the stunted black spruce trees in the bog. The small, metal labels blend in with the environment, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled.
The trail is open between dawn and dusk year round, according to a list of rules posted on a kiosk at the trailhead. Hunting is permitted on the property, so wear bright colors. Bicycles and motor vehicles are prohibited on the trails. Picnicking is allowed, but carry out what you carry in, including trash. Do not remove animals or plants (take photos!). Camping, fires, alcohol and other intoxicating substances, loud music and shouting are prohibited. Respect wildlife and keep your distance. Dogs are permitted but must be kept under control at all times.
Construction of the Trenton Community Trail was made possible by funding from the Davis Conservation Fund, Friends of Acadia, National Parks Conservation Association, Nature Valley and the Yawkey Foundation. The Trenton Community Trail Committee and hundreds of volunteers contributed thousands of hours of trail work to create this outdoor destination for the community.
To report trail damage and other concerns about the property, call the Trenton Town office at 667-7207. For information, visit http://friendsofacadia.org/, where a trail map is available.
Personal note: A friend of mine recently mentioned how she loves walking her dog in Trenton Community Forest, and I was surprised I’d never heard of it, given all the times I’ve driven past it on my way to hike on Mount Desert Island. Looking further into it, I learned that the trail just opened a year ago. I decided to visit it right away.
The high temperature was predicted at 35 degrees Fahrenheit on Dec. 4, but the wind was supposed to make the day feel much colder (20 degrees or so), so I was a little worried to bring my dog, Oreo, on a walk. (He doesn’t have much in the way of fur.) To make sure he wouldn’t be too cold on the hike, I dressed him in a fleece doggy jacket and when we reached the trailhead, I jumped in the back seat with him to cover his paws with Musher’s Secret, a wax that protects dog paws against the cold and abrasive surfaces (such as icy snow).
I was pleased to notice that Oreo seemed completely comfortable throughout the hike, with no shivering or whining and lots of rolling on the ground to get attention when I stopped to take photos.
The trail and the beautiful terrain surpassed my expectations. The interpretives signs included colored photos of plants and animals frequently seen along the trail, as well as great written information about the environment. The bog bridges helped keep us out of puddles and brooks. And the boardwalk at the far end of the loop was a great destination, with three interpretive signs and four benches for visitors to rest while taking the view of the bog.
While only patches of snow covered the ground on Dec. 4, I imagine the trail would be a great snowshoe spot. The blue blazes marked the trees regularly, making the trail easy to follow, and the abundance moss, lichen and various evergreens make the forest appear majestic year round. My favorite spot on the trail was the bridge spanning the second brook from the trailhead. The swiftly flowing water, bordered by mossy banks, appeared reddish orange in the sunlight. I’m not sure why. Sometimes it’s nice to just accept nature’s beauty for what it is. It’s a peaceful place, and I imagine that’s why the trail crew placed two wooden chairs in the woods nearby.