When an expensive car repair went wrong about three years ago, and the cost to redo it was too much, Bangor resident John Tippett decided he had enough of driving.
“I just started walking, which relaxed my nerves,” Tippett said. “This was in August, and I figured, ‘Wintertime’s coming up, I’ve got to make some arrangements.’ But I walked all through the winter. Just a couple of times I needed to call for a ride.”
At age 70, Tippett has found great health benefits to ditching his wheels and using his feet. “I thought I was in pretty good health before I started this, but I must have lost 10 pounds and felt a lot more vigorous,” he said. “And the 10 pounds I lost I started gaining back in muscle mass. So I’m happy.”
But walking the streets of Bangor is no picnic, with many dangerous intersections. The worst, he says, is at the I-95 ramps on Broadway, where he has been bumped twice and knocked over once by vehicles. Recently, looking for a place to walk that didn’t involve dodging cars, Tippett found the hiking trail at Essex Woods.
You can get there at the Police Athletic League Center on Watchmaker Street. Along with mountain bike trails, there’s a great walking trail that circles wetlands. There are plenty of bird-watching opportunities here, and many critters scurry about. And despite the veritable lake of standing water, the mosquitoes seem to be held at bay by the many dragonflies in the area.
The trail rounds the expansive pond and then parallels I-95 for a stretch. Then you can take a brief jaunt down Jennifer Lane, part of a quiet subdivision, before rejoining the trail again.
Tippett said doing more walking has been a powerful thing. “This is a life change for me,” he said.
Another place to enjoy relative solitude is Brown Woods on Ohio Street. It’s a popular place for dog-walkers, and the trail is wide, flat, easy to traverse and brief. It slopes gently upward at first, then meanders along, more or less level, before sloping back down toward the parking area. When you’re done, there’s a picnic table — a perfect spot to lunch to after your relaxing walk.
The most extensive walking trail network is in the City Forest off Stillwater Avenue. Access is by Kittredge Road and Tripp Drive. Kittredge Road is at the intersection of Hogan Road and Stillwater Avenue, near the Bangor Mall. Tripp Drive is off Stillwater Avenue, 1.6 miles north of the junction of Stillwater Avenue and Hogan Road.
The forest contains features 680 acres of wildlife habitat and features more than 4 miles of access roads and more than 9 miles of trails for running, hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. It is owned by the city of Bangor and open throughout the year.
If you’re in the mood to learn new things, you’ll probably love the Orono Bog Boardwalk, which is reached from the City Forest.
Declared a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1974, the bog is home to a wide variety of animal and plant species, some of which aren’t found elsewhere. Along the way are seven stations with information boards that educate you about this peat bog and its amazing ecosystem. (Note: There are no dogs allowed on the Boardwalk.)
Constructed from some 600 wooden platforms that were built off-site and installed here, the Boardwalk is flat and easily traversed. The best part is that it will take you practically to another world. It cuts through a peat bog, looping around before rejoining the first leg. And the journey is a fascinating one.
The boardwalk is now open for the season from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 31, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1-30, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1-Nov. 1, and 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 2-29.