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Posted: May 29, 2015

5 great outdoor places to explore within a 1.5-hour drive from Bangor

Written by: Staff Reports

Now that summer is nearly upon us, consider a drive north to explore the outdoors and use Bangor as your launching point. There are parks and beautiful views waiting for you to experience without having to go all the way to Mount Katahdin.

These trips are primarily designed to be explored on foot, though some welcome bikes. For those using wheelchairs, strollers or looking for otherwise accessible trails, be sure to check the websites to see which trails are wheel-friendly and/or provide stable footing.

If you stay overnight in Bangor, combine it with one of the great concerts, festivals, or other events happening in the area this summer.

1. BANGOR CITY FOREST and ORONO BOG/BOARDWALK

This city forest has lots of trees and wildlife and more than 9 miles of multi-use trails only a mere ten minute drive from downtown Bangor. The trails are open to walking and biking. The access roads are flat and clearly marked, with leashed dogs welcome. From the forest, you will find the beginning of the Orono Bog/Boardwalk, a one-mile loop trail that is well-marked with maps and explanations of the plants and animals present in the bog. The boardwalk is open from late-May to October. Free tours are available but must be scheduled in advance with Tracy Willette at 992-4490.

NEAREST TOWN: Bangor
LENGTH: 9 miles of multi-use trails, 4 miles of access roads
TERRAIN: Packed gravel and dirt access roads, wooded trails, boardwalks
BATHROOM: Located about a quarter mile from the trail head off the main access road.
DOG-FRIENDLY: Only on access roads and must be on a leash
WEBSITE: cityforest.bangorinfo.com or umaine.edu/oronobogwalk
COST: Free
TRAILHEAD: Head north on I-95 to exit 186 or 187. There are two trailheads – one on Kittredge Road and the other on Tripp Drive. The entrance to the Orono Bog Boardwalk is located on East Trail approximately 0.25 miles (0.4 km) from the parking area at the Tripp Drive entrance. The boardwalk is handicapped accessible.

A frog sits on a lilly pad at the pond at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth.

2. FIELD’S POND AUDUBON CENTER (about 15 minutes southeast of Bangor)

For an easy day trip, visit the Field’s Pond Audubon Center. Explore 220 acres of walking trails and check in at the visitor center for information about birds and wildlife you may see during your visit. Located on the edge of Field’s Pond, you can bring along a canoe or kayak for a paddling adventure as well. The terrain varies, with some hills and rocky sections. Upcoming programs include a “Wild Edibles” program with David Spahr at 11 a.m. June 13. A birding by canoe trip is at 8 a.m. June 20 and each month the center also offers a full moon canoe trip. The next one is June 30. Canoes are provided by the center for participants with advanced registration.

NEAREST TOWN: Holden
LENGTH: 5 miles of trails over 220 acres
TERRAIN: Fields, wetlands, freshwater marsh and forest
BATHROOM: Located inside the visitor center. The Nature Center store is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday
DOG-FRIENDLY: No
WEBSITE: maineaudubon.org/find-us/fields-pond
COST: Property and trails are open free of charge every day from dawn to dusk; program fees vary.
TRAILHEAD: Take Exit 182A from I-95 to I-395, direction of Brewer. Proceed about 3 miles (crossing over the Penobscot River) then take the “Parkway South” exit from I-395. Turn left from the exit, continue on Parkway South to a four-way junction. Turn left on Elm Street, which becomes Wiswell Road in about a mile. Continue on Wiswell Road to Fields Pond Road (on right). Nature Center is well marked on the left on Fields Pond Road.

Take your dog for a walk on Sears Island.

Take your dog for a walk on Sears Island.

3. SEARS ISLAND (about 30 miles south of Bangor)

Located in Searsport, Sears Island offers a casual, dog-friendly walk along a causeway along the ocean. There are short side trails as well. A visit provides birding opportunities, water access and a chance to explore the shops along Route 1.

NEAREST TOWN: Searsport
LENGTH: 2 miles, 5 miles of shoreline
TERRAIN: Paved causeway, dirt road, beach shoreline, slight incline
BATHROOM: NO
DOG-FRIENDLY: YES
COST: Free
WEBSITE: friendsofsearsisland.org
TRAILHEAD: Take I-95 and I-295 to Exit 113 toward Augusta/Belfast. Merge onto ME-3/US 1 north, turn right onto Sears Island Road.

The sun sets behind Borestone Mountain and over Sebec Lake at Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft.

The sun sets behind Borestone Mountain and over Sebec Lake at Peaks-Kenny State Park in Dover-Foxcroft.

4. BORESTONE MOUNTAIN AUDUBON SANCTUARY (about 60 miles northwest of Bangor)

Part of the Hundred Mile Wilderness Region, Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary has over 1,600 acres to explore. The hike up the mountain is a challenging 3-mile incline to the 1,947-foot summit with beautiful panoramic views. The nature center is located one mile from the trailhead at Sunrise Pond. In addition to hiking, there are birds and wildlife to be watched, multiple ponds for kayaking or canoeing, and four lodges available for rent.

NEAREST TOWN: Monson
LENGTH: 3 miles
TERRAIN: Steep trails, forest, trail or access road to visitor center
BATHROOM: At visitor center
DOG-FRIENDLY: NO
WEBSITE: maineaudubon.org/find-us/borestone-mountain-sanctuary
COST: $5 for non-members; $3 for non-member students, free for Maine Audubon members and for all kids under 6
TRAILHEAD: From the south, take I-95 to Newport (Exit 157). Follow Route 7 north to Dexter, then take Route 23 north to Guilford. In Guilford, turn left onto Route 15/6 to Monson. After passing through the village of Monson, turn right onto Elliotsville Road. After 8 miles turn left, after the bridge, onto Bodfish Road. Parking area is approximately .2 miles on the left, after the railroad tracks. The gate and trailhead are on the right.

Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary is located on Map 41 of Delorme’s Maine Atlas & Gazetteer.

Michael G. Seamans/Press Herald file photo

Michael G. Seamans/Press Herald file photo

5. ACADIA NATIONAL PARK (about 43 miles southeast of Bangor)

With the drive time, plus hiking time, Acadia National Park is perfect for a long weekend. There are over 120 miles of trails, 45 miles of carriage roads as well as off and on-road biking, camping, horseback riding, canoe and kayaking as well as rock climbing. There is even a white sand beach where you can spend some down time, and venture into the water if you’re feeling the urge. The hiking trails are described at the website: http://www.acadiamagic.com/acadia-hiking-trails.html and 57 miles of carriage trails throughout the park that are free of automobiles.

NEAREST TOWN: Bar Harbor
LENGTH: 120 miles of trails; 45 miles of carriage roads
TERRAIN: Forest, rock, gravel on carriage roads, shoreline
BATHROOM: locations around the park
DOG-FRIENDLY: On leash and not in “No Pet” areas
WEBSITE: nps.gov/acad
COST: From May to October: $25 per vehicle (up to 15 people) for 7 days; $12 per person with no car (bicyclist, hiker, pedestrian) for 7 days; free for youth 15 years old and under. Free on August 25 for the National Park Service Birthday.
TRAILHEAD: Take I-95 north to Augusta, Maine, then Route 3 east to Ellsworth, and on to Mount Desert Island. For an alternate route, continue on I-95 north to Bangor then take Route 1A east to Ellsworth. In Ellsworth, take Route 3 to Mount Desert Island and the main visitor center at the park.

– Leslie Forstadt

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