1-minute hike: North Penjajawoc Forest in Bangor

Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The 105-acre preserve contains a network of trails that travel through a mature mixed forest to vernal pools and small wetland areas. Watch out for exposed tree roots.

To reach the preserve, you need to walk nearly a mile on easy, smooth trails in the Rolland F. Perry City Forest, more commonly known as the Bangor City Forest. Therefore, your hike will be nearly two miles (to the preserve and back) plus any walking you do on preserve trails.

bangorforest0116-1How to get there: From Interstate 95 Exit 187, drive north on Hogan Road a little less than 0.5 mile (passing McDonald’s and Olive Garden on the right) to the traffic light where Hogan Road ends at Stillwater Avenue. Turn right and drive on Stillwater Avenue for 0.1 mile, then turn left onto Kittredge Road. Drive about 1.5 miles to the parking lot at the end of Kittredge Road. The hike starts in the Bangor City Forest.

As you pass through the trailhead gate of the city forest, keep in mind that you are entering a nesting area for great horned owls, which have a track record of defending their territory against people and dogs.

bangorforest0116-5At the first trail intersection in the forest, turn left and head west of the East-West Loop Trail. In less than 0.25 mile, you will come to an intersection with the Deer Trail; veer left, staying on the East-West Loop Trail. Soon you will cross a wooden bridge. Just after the bridge you will come to a four-way trail intersection. Continue straight ahead. You will pass several side trails (Quinn, Bobcat, Grouse and Moose trails.) After the pass the Moose Trail on your right, start looking for the North Penjajawoc Forest trailhead kiosk, set back into the woods on your left. This kiosk is located about 0.75 mile from the parking lot, according to the Bangor Land Trust.

northpenjajawoc0116-6Information: The 105-acre North Penjajawoc Forest is sandwiched between the 686-acre Bangor City Forest and the 410-acre Walden-Parke Preserve, is a part of the Caribou Bog-Penjajawoc Project, an effort by several local organizations to create a conservation and recreation corridor in the greater Bangor area.

The preserve was donated to the Bangor Land Trust in 2011 by a local developer whose planned housing development intruded into the protection zone of a vernal pool elsewhere in Bangor.

Also known as “spring pools,” vernal pools are shallow depressions in the forest that usually contain water for only part of the year and are often home to salamanders, wood frogs, fairy shrimp and other creatures. In 2007, significant vernal pool habitat became protected by law in Maine under the Natural Resources Protection Act.

northpenjajawoc0116-16In order to continue his housing development plans, the developer was required  to conserve an unprotected vernal pool elsewhere, so he chose to do so by purchasing the 105 acres that now makes up North Penjajawoc Forest and transferring the property to the Bangor Land Trust, with restrictions imposed by the Army Corps of Engineers and monitored by the Brewer Land Trust. The property contains several vernal pools and other wetlands, a stream, and a mature mixed forest.

The property also includes an extensive trail network.

northpenjajawoc0116-17“When we received the property, the trails were already there and a lot of mountain bikers used them,” said Bangor Land Trust office manager Donne Sinderson.

Since 2011, the Bangor Land Trust and the Army Corps of Engineers have selected sections of trails in the network to close to habitat restoration. In most cases, these sections were soggy and therefore not particularly suitable for recreation anyway, Sinderson said.

In 2013, volunteers constructed a wide wooden footbridge over a stream on the property with funding from the Woodard and Curran Foundation. And to make navigation easier, Bangor Land Trust has posted small, green, diamond-shaped Bangor Land Trust signs on tree trunks along the preserve’s main trails.

One of the kiosks marking an entrance to the preserve.

One of the kiosks marking an entrance to the preserve.

“It has an off-the-beaten-path sort of feel,” said Sinderson. “It’s quiet.”

This summer, the Bangor Land Trust plans to mark the trails that are open to the public and create a detailed trail to post at kiosks at four entrances to the preserve. In the meantime, the land trust suggests visitors carry a compass or GPS with them while explore the preserve trail network, as it can be confusing.

Currently, two kiosks have been erected at two entrances — one in the Bangor City Forest and one on the old Veazie Railroad Bed — but they do not display a trail map.

The preserve is open to hiking, mountain biking, wildlife watching, skiing and snowshoeing. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on leash at all times and owners are expected to pick up their dog’s waste in all seasons. Hunting, camping and fires are not permitted.

northpenjajawoc0116-10For more information, call the Bangor Land Trust at 942-1010 or visit the land trust’s website at bangorlandtrust.org.

Personal note: I thought I’d visited all of the Bangor Land Trust preserves, but while checking out the land trust’s website last weekend, I realized I’d overlooked one — the North Penjajawoc Forest. So on Sunday, my husband Derek and I went on a snowshoe with our dog Oreo in the Bangor City Forest to find the mysterious preserve, which has only a little bit of information posted about it online.

We found the entrance to the North Penjajawoc Forest easily enough, thanks to instructions on the Bangor Land Trust website, but my knowledge ended at the forest’s trailhead kiosk.

“Is it a loop trail?” Derek asked as we slogged through the snow, breaking trail through a corridor of snowy balsalm fir trees.



“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t have a map.”

“How long is the trail?” He asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “The [Bangor Land Trust] website just said it was an ‘extensive trail network.’”

The conversation reminded me of Sundays from my childhood, when my mom would take me and my sister and on car rides on random roads and call it a “Sunday adventure.” We truly had no agenda but to explore. Maybe she had run out of ways to entertain us, but I remember really enjoying those carefree car rides.

Derek carrying Oreo across the bridge so he doesn't get his paws stuck in the gaps.

Derek carrying Oreo across the bridge so he doesn’t get his paws stuck in the gaps.

I won’t attempt to trace all the turns and we took in the forest. We simply took the widest, clearest trails, knowing we could always backtrack out of the forest if necessary. Along the way, we examined fresh snowshoe hare tracks (some accompanied by perfectly round hare droppings), and deer tracks. However, our snowshoes were so noisy that we had little chance of actually coming across any woodland creature, aside from the occasional woodpecker.

The trails eventually led us to the old Veazie Railroad Bed, where we got our bearings and turned right to walk past the Walden-Parke Preserve and back to the Bangor City Forest, noting trees stripped of bark by porcupines along the way.

Bangor City Forest trails

Bangor City Forest trail

While we’d likely been the only people snowshoeing in North PenjajawocForest, we had lots of company as we navigated through the Bangor City Forest back to Kittredge Road parking lot. With about a two-mile walk from the railroad bed to the car, I found myself looking at the skiers with envy and wondering how Oreo would do at skijoring. By the time we made it back to the parking lot, my hip flexors were aching and I was ready for a nap.

More photos: 

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.