Difficulty: Easy. The 1.65-mile loop trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.
How to get there: From Interstate 95, take Exit 244, then head west on Route 157 through Medway and East Millinocket to downtown Millinocket. After about 10.8 miles of driving on Route 157, turn left onto Congress Street, where you’ll soon see the paved trail on your left as it strikes through Kermit Crandall Park beside Millinocket Stream. In the park is a kiosk with information about the trail. You can park along the side of the road there, taking care not to block a driveway, or at the nearby Granite Street School, where the trail is located just west of the school entrance. You can also start the loop trail by parking at Stearns High School, which is located at the intersection of Second Street and State Street.
Information: The Michael Michael Walking and Biking Trail is a paved path that travels along Millinocket Stream, connecting two schools, two parks, the Millinocket Historical Society and nearby residential neighborhoods. Completed in summer of 2011, the trail can be enjoyed in sections or as a 1.65-mile loop if you combine it with a few sidewalks.
Along the trail, local residents have planted various flowers and trees, and due to the trail’s proximity to Millinocket Stream, it’s an excellent place to view wildlife. Various ducks and Canada geese are some of the most commonly spotted critters along the trail. A variety of songbirds also frequent the bushes and trees along the trail, especially in the quieter areas, away from the streets.
The trail was named after former U.S. Representative Mike Michaud, who served for Maine’s second district from 2003 to 2015 and was instrumental in securing funding for the trail. Michaud was born in Millinocket, grew up in nearby Medway, and was a mill worker and supervisor at Great Northern Paper Company in East Millinocket from 1973 until his election to Congress.
If you begin the trail on Congress Street, you’ll be walking through Crandall Park, where you’ll find a nice lawn, some benches by Millinocket Stream and a wide, paved boat launch. From there, if walking the trail counterclockwise, the trail crosses a bridge over Millinocket Stream, then turns left to travel along the west side of Granite Street School. After the school, the trail follows Ash Street, crosses Central Street, then follows Forest Avenue up a small hill before turning left and plunging into the woods to follow the stream to Stearns High School. At the school, the trail turns left and steers around the parking lot to State Street. From there, it follows residential streets — down State Street, left onto Spring Street, right onto Water Street, right onto Central Street, left onto State Street, then right onto Summer Street — before leading back to Congress Street, where you began. Through this residential area, the trail is marked with occasional signs, but it may be best for you to carry a trail map.
The trail is plowed during the winter to provide easy walking and biking year round. Dogs are permitted and must be under voice control or on leash.
Personal note: A few weeks ago, a co-worker asked me, “Have you ever heard of plogging?” Of course, I asked her to repeat herself. “Plogging” is a word I’d never heard, and that’s because it’s new. Coined in Sweden, “plogging” is the combination of the word “jogging” and the Swedish phrase “plocka upp,” which translates to “pick up,” and in this case, picking up litter.
Now, I knew that running around with a bag full of trash would be tricky and a bit of a spectacle. But why not give it a try? I thought. I had picked up litter before. This would just be at a faster pace — in theory.
So I planned a “1-minute plog,” and I knew just where to do it. In all my adventures around the state, the most litter-filled trails have been those in populated areas, such as towns and cities. Often these are riverside trails, such as the Kenduskeag Stream Trail, the Messalonskee Stream Trail and the Guildford Memorial River Walk. These trails get a lot of traffic, and therefore, sadly, a lot of trash. In fact, they’re typically the most trashed in the spring, when the snow melts away and reveals a winter’s worth of disregard.
So last Friday, my husband Derek and I drive to Millinocket with our dog Oreo, two pairs of gloves and a trash bag. We’d never been to the Michael Michaud Walking and Biking Trail before, but I had seen the sign for the trail several times while driving through town on my way to Baxter State Park. It had long been on my list for places to explore.
When we arrived at Congress Street, the first remark Derek made was that the trail didn’t look like it contained much litter. But as we started walking, candy bar wrappers, styrofoam cups, cigarette cartons and plastic bags appeared in the grass and bushes along the trail. By the end of our adventure, we had filled our trash bag and slowed our pace to a walk.
Along the way, we watched mallard ducks swimming in Millinocket Stream and greeted other users of the trail — groups of children and lone walkers. And just as we were completing the loop, I walked to the stream’s edge to pick up a piece of gnarled plastic and looked up to see two Canada geese swimming just feet away, their graceful black necks bending to dip their heads underwater, a behavior I’ve read is part of their unique breeding dance in the spring. Seeing wildlife courting each other so close to where we’d just picked up trash really made me feel even better about what we were doing.
After throwing our trash in a nearby, public trash can — irony that didn’t escape me — we headed to the nearby Blue Ox Saloon, a place that you must visit for dinner if spending any time in the area. There we sat at the bar and had a beer while talking to the owner, Tom St. John, who built the establishment back in 1994. He showed us around the place, which includes indoor and outdoor seating areas, pool tables, a fascinating library and countless antiques that he’s collected over the years. We told him we’d be back in the summer with family and friends to try some of his famous pizza.