The weekend before the big re-certification test for my husband, we decided to take a dry run to the test center in Bangor to assess how much time he would need to get there for a 7:30 am sign-in. After days of cloudy weather, the sun was finally beginning to peak through, so the plan was to find the test center, then find a place to hike. Having explored our options before-hand, I noticed that the Bangor City Forest was located behind the testing site, so after 90 minutes of driving, we were ready to begin our adventure.
The Bangor City Forest is over 680 acres and, by one source I consulted, contains a network (maze) of over 17 miles worth of trails. In addition, there are two preserves maintained by the Bangor Land Trust with another conglomeration of trails, including connector paths into the City Forest. I had read stories about people getting lost within this system, so if you are planning on straying off the two main loop trails , it is absolutely essential to have a trail map on hand. I found that the easiest map to read was located on the Bangor Maine government website but be aware not all the trails are listed on this map. In fact, we saw many off-shoot paths that I could not find on any of the maps when we studied them later.
For this trip, we decided to stay on the East-West Loop which was about 5 miles. The loop was a good width and graveled, so the walking was pretty easy. As we meandered along the road, we were amazed at the things that were still in bloom on that last weekend in September. My first find was a plant, with small white flowers gathered in a spike at the top. I later identified this as White Sweet Clover, a plant unlike any clover I had seen before. We also spotted, an almost perfect Black-eyed Susan, only a little worse for wear.
About a ½ mile or so from where we parked, we arrived at the main entrance near the Orono Bog Walk. The information center was located here with a description of what a visitor would find in the Bog. We knew the loop would be worth the trip but we decided to save it for another time. What really surprised me here was finding the remains of a nest on the side of the information building. It was not the fact that the nest was there but that it had been built about waist height. Given the easy accessibility to humans, I wondered if this nest had ever been used.
Further down the road, I heard a rustle in the undergrowth and found a small snake keeping a close eye on me. We paused for a minute to watch it before continuing on our way.
Since we had taking the mushroom walk only the week before, we were delighted at our ability to name a few of the numerous fungi we found along our journey. At one point, we found one tall specimen that was unfamiliar to us. Later research seemed to indicate that we had found a Shaggy Mane.
As we neared the end of our journey, we reached a junction with a wide grassy road towards our left. I believe that this was the connector to the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve. On either side of this pathway, we found an identifying sign with a specific conifer name. We were in the arboretum. Whenever my husband and I had found ourselves journeying through the maze of paths meandering through an arboretum we had always gotten lost. So finding ourselves in one now, we made a hasty retreat back towards the East-West Loop. Boy, was that close.
Back at the intersection, we paused to study the variety of flowers still in bloom. In one location we found Tansies, Pearly Everlastings, Queen Anne’s lace, yellow Sow-Thistle, as well as the common purple thistle. Not long after this wonderful find we finished the loop and decided to find lunch before heading home. It had been a wonderful day spent outdoors.