Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The trails in McPhetres Farm Forest add up to a little less than 1.5 miles. The forest is fairly hilly, so expect a few short uphill climbs. Look out for exposed tree roots. Narrow bog bridges span a few soggy sections of trail.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 2 (State Street) and Mount Hope Avenue in Veazie, drive about 0.3 mile north (toward Orono) on Route 2 and turn left onto the dirt road at the north end of Fairview Cemetery. Drive to the end of the short road, following signs to the parking area for McPhetres Farm Forest.
Information: Owned by the Town of Veazie, the 25-acre McPhetres Farm Forest contains a network of marked walking trails that are open to the public year round. The quiet property is great for dog walking, trail running and snowshoeing. It’s also a good place for wildlife watching and birding.
In addition to being a place of recreation, McPhetres Farm Forest a certified tree farm in the national American Tree Farm System, which was founded in 1941 and is now the oldest and largest forest conservation, certification and advocacy program in the country.
For a forest to be certified, the forest owner must meet eight ATFS standards, one of which is developing and implementing a sustainable forest management plan. Today, there are about 2,000 certified tree farms in Maine.
McPhetres Farm Forest is a great place to learn about tree identification and forestry practices. The trails lead visitors through a wide variety of trees, including white ash, sugar maple, beech, red pine, white oak and a stand of towering white pines that’s more than 100 years old.
Educational signs are located throughout the trail network so people can learn about forest management and natural features, such as cavity trees and ant mounds. Also posted throughout the forest are trail maps that show you where you are in the trail network.
Trails in the network are marked with different colors. For example, the trail starts out marked in white blazes. At the first intersection, the right trail is marked with orange and white, and the left trail is marked with green. Farther along, you’ll run into trails marked with yellow and blue paint. These different colors can help you get your baring, especially if you carry a trail map, on which each trail is drawn in the color the corresponds with the blazes that mark it. (Keep in mind that the trail maps posted in the forest have faded in the sun so that orange appears to be yellow.)
Rules for forest visitors are posted at the kiosk at the trailhead. The sign reads: “Take only photographs; Leave only footprints; Remain on marked trails; Non-motorized recreation traffic only.”
Hunting is permitted. A sign on the kiosk asks sportsmen to “please treat the land as if it were your very own.”
Comments and questions about the forest should be sent by mail to: Veazie Conservation Commission, Town of Veazie, 1084 Main Street, Veazie, ME, 04401.
Trail maps are available at the Veazie Town Office or online at http://oronolandtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/8-mcphetresmanter.pdf.
Personal note: Three woodpeckers burst out of a tall white pine as we reached the second trail intersection in McPhetres Farm Forest on Nov. 16. We threw our heads back and watched as birds fluttered from limb to limb high above us in the ancient trees. The distinctive song of chickadees filled the air, mixed with other birdsong I couldn’t identify. As we stopped to listen and watch, our dog Oreo rolled around in the dead leaves and crisp snow, impatient to move on.
It was a cold morning — 24 degrees Fahrenheit — but we had bundled right up in winter gear, and Oreo was wearing his red plaid doggy fleece for the first time of the year. As we walked the trails, we checked out the educational signs on forestry and tree species. It was nice to have help identifying some of the more unusual trees — the white ash and the red pine.
The highlights of the hike were the trees — the giant white pines and the large white oak trees, which reminded me of a lesson I learned in a primitive skills workshop at Becoming an Outdoors Woman in Maine. White oak acorns are sweeter than red oak acorns and are therefore better for making acorn flour. It’s a random fact, but fun to tell hiking buddies. Also, you can tell a white oak tree apart from a red oak tree because the leaves have rounded edges, as opposed to the red oak’s sharp edges.
Oreo, enjoying the scents of the different evergreen plants, especially enjoyed this trail network. He still smells like pine.