Difficulty: Easy. The trails in the network travel over unimproved forest floor for the most part. In some places, the forest floor is smooth and covered with soft pine needles, while in other areas, the trail is fairly rocky. Watch your footing. While there is no significant change in elevation, the trails do travel over a few small hills. Also, expect to pay attention to your feet as you walk along long stretches of narrow bog bridges.
Hiking the first loop in the network is just under 1 mile, and there is another 1 mile of preserve trails that spur off of that loop.
How to get there: Take Interstate 95 Exit 186 and turn right onto Stillwater Avenue and drive 1.1 miles (straight through the traffic light at the Stillwater Avenue-Hogan Road intersection) and turn left onto Kittredge Road. Drive 0.1 mile and turn right at the stop sign to remain on Kittredge Road. Continue another 0.8 mile to the preserve trailhead, which will be on your left, just before the pavement ends. (The kiosk is set back into the woods a bit.) Park at the side of the road, well out of the way of traffic.
Information: The 80.5-acre Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve in Bangor is owned and maintained by the Bangor Land Trust for wildlife and public recreation. About two miles of intersecting trails on the property lead visitors through a variety of habitats, which are marked with numbered signs. These numbered “nature stations” correspond with numbers on a Bangor Land Trust brochure for a self-guided nature tour, available online and sometimes at the trailhead kiosk.
There are six “nature stations” marking six different habitats:
1.) Upland forest dominated by red oak, white pine, red maple and balsam fir trees.
2.) Cattail marsh, a foraging and nesting habitat for many species of waterfowl and wading birds.
3.) Shady riparian forest that borders a small stream flowing into Penjajawoc Marsh and keeps its waters cool.
4.) Early successional forest composed mostly of deciduous trees such as quaking and big tooth aspen, gray and paper birch, and red maple. In this type of forest, you may spot a snowshoe hare, beaver or ruffed grouse.
5.) Vernal pool, a shallow depression in the forest floor that only contains water in the springtime and into the summer, then dries up. This is an important, fish-free habitat for certain amphibians, such as salamanders and wood frogs, as well as fairy shrimp.
6.) Mixed graminoid-shrub marsh, a common wetland type in Maine that contains different shrubs and herbs and is a breeding ground for amphibians, nesting habitat for wading birds and home to rare reptiles such as the spotted turtle.
The property was purchased by the Bangor Land Trust in 2007, with support from the Land for Maine’s Future Program and North American Wetlands Conservation Funds.
The preserve trails are open to walkers and bicyclists for free year round. Dogs are also permitted but must be kept on leash at all times.
Starting at the trailhead kiosk, one trail leads into the network, threading through a beautiful stand of tall white pines. The forest then quickly changes to include a greater variety of trees and the trail meets the first intersection in the network. This intersection is the start of the main loop in the preserve, which is a little less than 1 mile long and includes the nature stations 1 and 2 along its north side (the trail on the right as you’re approaching the intersection.)
At the far end of the loop, the two trails reconnect just before a scenic wooden bridge that crosses a stream that flows into Penjajawoc Marsh. On the bridge is nature station 3.
After the bridge, you’ll come to another trail intersection, which is the start to a second loop in the preserve, where you’ll find stations 4, 5, and 6. The far end of this loop travels along the old Veazie Railroad Bed.
This second loop can be confusing because there are a few additional trail intersections along the way, with a trail leading off to the power lines to an overlook of the marsh, and another trail leading into the Bangor City Forest.
Also, if you’re looking for a longer adventure, you can continue walking north on the old Veazie Railroad Bed to the nearby Walden-Parke Preserve (another BLT property) and the Bangor City Forest.
Navigating the trails of the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve can be confusing beyond the main loop. Be sure to carry a trail map, and consider bringing a smartphone, GPS or compass as additional aids. A simple trail map is posted at most trail intersections in the preserve, but there are a couple intersections that are not marked.
The land trust asks that visitors pick up after themselves and their pets.
For more information, and for a trail maps and brochure for the self-guided nature tour, visit www.bangorlandtrust.org or visit the BLT office at 8 Harlow Street in Bangor. If you have specific questions about the preserve or other BLT properties, call the BLT office at 941-1010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal note: After a long weekend of wedding festivities for my friends Kim and Chris in Bucksport, I was pretty much a zombie on Sunday when I decided to get some fresh air at the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve with my husband, Derek, and our dog, Oreo. Right off the bat, we came across Lucy Quimby, president of the Bangor Land Trust, walking the preserve trails with a hiking companion. She thanked us for having Oreo on leash (which is a rule in the preserve) and told us that she’d just come across some hikers who had their dog off leash. Nevertheless, she had tried to help the people, who had become lost in the trail network. They were looking for the Veazie Railroad Bed, and she pointed them in the right direction.
Looking at the trail map, I couldn’t imagine how the people could get lost, especially with maps posted at the intersections. Then, of course, Derek and I got a bit lost ourselves. One of the trails leading to the marsh overlook was closed for habitat restoration, and we came across an extra trail intersection, one that wasn’t shown on the map. At the point, we bumped into a woman, who had just come from the West Trail of the Bangor City Forest. Together, we studied the map and couldn’t figure out where it showed the preserve trail network connecting directly over to Bangor City Forest trails, but we had a general idea of where we were, so she continued walking toward the railroad bed while we decided to retrace our steps back to the first loop in the preserve.
Despite the confusion, we enjoyed our time in the preserve. The trails were well-maintained and seemed to be well traveled, with the tire tracks of mountain bikes imprinted into the few muddy spots along the way.
The forest was a great place to identify a variety of trees, and I imagine it’s quite beautiful in the autumn, with all the maples, birches, oaks and aspens in full color.
In a spot where the songbirds were especially noisy, I took the time to pause and photograph a female black-and-white warbler as it hopped around on a fallen tree. And I unsuccessfully chased after a tiny wood frog hopping through the leaf litter.
By the time we returned to the trailhead, we had a few itchy mosquito bites but felt a bit less like zombies, having benefited, no doubt, from a bit of exercise and fresh air.