Tag Archive | day hikes in Maine

Ducktrap River, Lincolnville, Maine

Today’s gloomy snow, sleet and freezing rain inspire memories of a warm, sunny early September day spent hiking along the Ducktrap River of Camden Hills State Park in Lincolnville.  With temperatures in the low 80sF, blue skies and a negligible breeze, the weather was perfect for my husband and me to enjoy a belated anniversary get-away.  Lincolnville is a small, picturesque blip on Rte 1 just above Camden.

Ducktrap Harbor was named for its peculiar topography.  Ducks entering the area could be trapped by cutting off their exit.  The high trees surrounding the water did not allow the birds to achieve enough altitude to escape hunters’ guns.  Ducktrap River flows into the harbor and then into the Atlantic Ocean.  This river is one of only eight in Maine where native wild salmon spawn.  It is a pristine waterway running through protected woodland.

Tall, old-growth trees crowd the trails, their roots throwing up obstacles for careless hikers.  To walk the path safely requires constant monitoring of foot placement.  The air is scented with a fragrance of conifer needles baking in the sun, moist soil and moss and the faint tang of the nearby ocean.  The silence of the trees is disturbed by frequent rustlings of birds and small mammals in the underbrush.  Birds call from the branches overhead, their songs mingling with the distant cries of gulls and other seabirds soaring above the canopy.

An easy twenty-minute walk (notwithstanding the ankle-turning roots) leads to the river.  In September the water level is low, exposing the bed of granite, basalt and metamorphic rock.  Water pools between the rocks providing cool sanctuaries for schools of tiny fish.  In places the rocks are slippery with damp moss, while in other spots tenacious flowering wild annuals display their blooms.  Cicadas whine in the early autumn heat.  The water is a refreshing treat for hot hikers’ feet.

Farther upstream, the incline of the land levels, reducing the water to a sluggish flow amid earthy banks and pocket wetlands.  The trail meanders along the banks, crossing small, dry streams.  Sometimes the way veers deeper into the woods, leading through thick stands of fern.  Unusual red bracket fungi sprout from the trunks of occasional dying trees.  The forest floor is carpeted with moss, partridgeberry, wild cranberry and wintergreen.  

The trail finally turns from the river, circling over a small hill, past the Tanglewood 4-H summer camp (empty in September,) traversing a thick forest of maple, birch, oak, pine, spruce and balsam.  Hikers must use care when reading the trail map or a wrong turning can lead to an extended walk back to the starting point and the waiting car.  Overall, a most enjoyable afternoon’s excursion, and fodder for a lovely winter daydream.

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Hiking to the Bowl at Acadia National Park

The Bowl from the top of Enoch Mountain

Spring is right around the corner, (and through 2 feet of snow here in Maine) bringing with it dreams of hiking the many beautiful trails of Acadia.  A special little gem well worth the walk is The Bowl, a small pond near The Beehive on the east side of the Park.  The Beehive is a round, rocky little mountain that can be viewed to the north from Sand Beach.

Memorizing the trail to The Bowl (it’s a straight line)

The trailhead for The Beehive and The Bowl starts almost across the road from the entrance to Sand Beach.  On any hot day, one lane of the one-way road will be choked with overflow parking for the beach.  On a quiet day, you can park in the beach lot and walk up to the trailhead.  The entire hike is about one-and-a-half miles, maybe two.  Unfortunately, at the beginning it is rather rough and steep going.  The woods is filled with piles of granite boulders that tumbled off The Beehive.  The trail leads over and through the boulder field.  After a way the trek becomes less challenging, more like a quiet walk in the woods.  It is all uphill, but not at too difficult an incline.

Rough beginning to the Beehive/Bowl trail

A few hundred feet along the path, there is an intersection, take the left trail to The Bowl.  The thick woods filled with shadows, quiet rustling in the undergrowth, birdsong and the whispering of leaves in the sea breeze is a welcome cool spot on a summer day.  Just about the time you wonder how long a half-mile can be, you come out at the prettiest little pond.  On the northeast it is steeply flanked by the low Enoch Mountain.

Enoch Mountain seen across The Bowl

The water is pure, cool, clean and transparent.  The bottom of the pond is lined with sand, large rocks and some mucky mud.  Little fish dart in the shallows.  Out in the center, rippling rings spread from spots where larger fish have broken the surface to nab a fly for lunch.  The trail passes along the southern and eastern side of the pond then up Enoch Mountain.  From the top, the view is spectacular.  What else could it be at Acadia?

After returning to the pond, it is all right to slip off your shoes and dip your hot feet in the water.  The Bowl is not a public water supply protected from contact with humans.  The adventurous hiker might prefer to swing back from The Bowl along the Beehive trail, across the back ridge of the mountain, then down the steep face to return to the trailhead.  I prefer retracing the path I followed in.  It’s all downhill to the road.  My knees are not as fond of mountains as they were in their youth.

Asticou Azalea Garden

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A tiny island of serenity is set amidst the bustle of Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert, home of Acadia National Park in Maine.  While it is known and loved for the beauty and variety of its blooming rhododendrons, Asticou Garden is a refuge any time of the year.  During the depths of January ice, my thoughts escape to a July garden visit.g10

Built in 1956 and styled after a Japanese stroll garden, the Asticou features paths meandering through shade and sun, hill and pond, flower bed and lawn.  Tiny shrines nestle in woodland or water settings, stone paeans to the beauty of nature.g5g8g1g3g2a
Many of the rhododendrons and azaleas are quite old, having been transplanted from an estate garden in 1956. The shade loving shrubs and small trees shelter beneath towering pines. Red Japanese maples splash color, as do late blooming rhododendrons.g9

Tranquility may be achieved during contemplation of the sand garden, designed to invoke rocks among the ripples of a lake.  The pure white sand is carefully tended.g4

Birds sing and flit about the branches.  Ducks and insects lead their busy lives along the waterways.  Sounds of the outside world mute to be replaced by warm breezes sighing through pine boughs, cricket song or silence.  Visitors tread quietly here, speaking in whispers.g7

g11A bounty of bloom, the garden remains the same, yet ever changing, year after year.  Sanctuary for a body in the height of midsummer, or a mind in the gray grip of winter’s freeze, Asticou continues as a gem of the coast of Maine.

 

Jordan Pond at Acadia

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Jordan Pond and The Bubbles

One of the central features of Acadia National Park is Jordan Pond.  From the famous Pond House that serves tea and popovers to the surrounding carriage roads and hiking trails and the boat launch, this area of the park is a big tourist draw.

The pond was formed by glacial activity and the bottom is covered with huge boulders of granite that were shaved from the tops of the surrounding mountains in the last ice age.  Although it is a natural pond, a dam has been added to regulate the water level.  Jordan Pond is a drinking water source and is not open to swimming, wading, or pets.

The beautiful view from the southern side of the pond is the two small mountain peaks named the Bubbles (often referred to as the Bubbies for obvious reasons.)  Circling the pond is a 3.2 mile walking trail that is deemed easy to moderate for hiking.  On our latest visit to Acadia this past week, we decided to circumnavigate the pond.

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Penobscot Mountain from the flat rock bridge on the southeast side of Jordan Pond

The hike starts either from the boat landing or across the dam off of a carriage road, depending on whether you want to go around counterclockwise or vice versa.  We left from the boat landing.  The trail follows the very edge of the pond, snugged behind the shoreline trees and bushes.  Mountains 1100-1200 ft tall surround the pond.  Most of the way, the path is shaded by towering trees, pleasant walking on a hot July day.  It is so tempting to remove one’s shoes and dabble toes in the cool water, but don’t do it!  No one wants to drink toe water.

Much of the east side of the pond has a graveled trail and the other side is mainly traveled over raised plank walkways.  Signs advise hikers to stay on the pathways to protect delicate shoreline.  On the east side, not far from the boat landing, a bridge made of large flat stones allows water to pass into a pretty little wetland.

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Tim on the north shore of Jordan Pond

At the northern end, the shoreline is a short, debris-strewn beach.  A tiny inlet brook bisects the beach, flowing from a small, protected wetland.  On the day we visited, a mama loon sat on her nest in the miniature marsh.  The sun was hot and the bird panted to cool off.  She seemed unconcerned by the proximity of human spectators.  Signs warned to leave her alone and people were behaving themselves.

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Loon on her nest, north end of Jordan Pond

After the beach, the trail continues to the west side of the pond.  This side is more boggy.  The trail is mostly raised boardwalk.  Along the way the trail passes through a boulder-strewn talus field of Penobscot Mountain.  I would hate to be standing near when a giant rock chunk gives way on top of the mountain and tumbles down to the pond.ac5

The remainder of the walk along the boards is easy and relaxing.  Water laps at the rock-lined shore, creating a gentle backdrop for birdsong and the occasional scolding of red squirrels in the surrounding woods.  Much too soon, the trail ends at a major carriageway connecting various routes.  The area is busy with hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders.  Tourists flock to the dam here at the south end for photo opportunities with The Bubbles in the background.  Most never take the time to walk a few feet from the beaten path to experience the quiet joys of Jordan Pond’s trail.