Hatchery Brook Preserve

July 4th was the last full day of our Rangeley visit. We decided to set out at a more leisurely pace, and visit a few local preserves near town. Our first stop was the Hatchery Brook Preserve, just a few minutes outside of town.

The trail map indicated that this would be a loop. I am not sure where I read the reviews, but there was some indication that the right side was a little trickier, so we opted to meander in a counter clockwise direction. This would get the rougher side of the preserve out of the way first, allowing us a peaceful meander for the rest of our journey.

We were not 20 feet into our walk when we both stopped to study different things. I was attracted by a bunchberry plant growing inside of a tree stump and the cluster nearby with berries already turning red. My husband was so intrigued by the variety of ferns in one spot that he spent some time attempting to improve his fern identification skills. Since we did not travel with any identification guides, I recommended that he take pictures for reference so that once we had the resources available he would be able to research his findings. I believe at that point, he began taking pictures of the top of the ferns, the underside of the fronds, the spores, and the base of the stem. After a time, we were able to move on.

Once we were moving again, it wasn’t long before we reached a rather extensive boardwalk that helped us pass over the boggy section of the preserve. Halfway along this walkway, I paused to admire a cluster of Forget-me-nots before proceeding to the end of the planked path. The next few minutes of our adventure was the most distressing, as we waded through waist high vegetation. Naturally, my tick phobia set in, but we had never seen ticks when we had to wade through tall ferns before and a few tick checks along the way eased my fears.

After pushing through the ferns, the trail became easier to manage. We now walked through a beautiful forested area along a soft dirt path surrounded by bunchberries. A few side trails led to benches and views of the lake.

Since it did not take very long to stroll through this lovely preserve, we decided that we would continue our adventures on one more trail system. Our goal was to find the Rangeley Lakes Trails Center, have lunch in the parking area, and then explore a trail or two. Alas, this was not to be. In addition to being used for winter activities, the website indicated that the trails were for walking, running and biking, but clearly this was a winter only facility.

As we ate our lunch, we noticed that every place that might be a trail was overgrown. We watched as one couple examined the trail map on one side of the large parking area, then start to walk on a trail not far from where we sat. In minutes they had returned and tried the Geneva Loop trail near the kiosk. Since they did not reappear by the time we finished eating, we decided to follow them.

The trail was not even, in fact it looked like it had been roughly scraped clear of vegetation with a front loader. Basically, we were walking in the tire tracks left by whatever tried to clear the path. Because of the wet weekend, which still persisted, it was pretty muddy, enough for me to slip in a few places. After 40 minutes of slogging through this terrain, we met the other couple coming the other way. Apparently, they had reached a point where they would have had to bushwhack to continue.

That was it! We were done! This place should have been advertised as a winter only activity center, for there was no trail maintenance done to make it a viable option for walkers or bikers. However, we could not complain about our weekend. Out of 7 places we visited, 6 of them were very enjoyable.

The next day we headed for home, and of course, the sun came out.


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