Difficulty: Easy. The trail network is made up of just under 1.5 miles of trails that travel over a fairly smooth forest floor. The trails were surfaced with gravel and stone dust many years ago, and over time they’ve become more natural as leaves and pine needles have fallen down overtop.
Information: Located beside Bangor High School, Prentiss Woods is a 40-acre chunk of forestland that features towering trees and easy walking trails. The city-owned park is managed by the City of Bangor Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s frequently used by the faculty and students of the neighboring school, and it’s a favorite spot for dog walkers.
In the fall of 2020, the city released an updated trail map of the forest. This map is posted on a kiosk at the trailhead parking area on Grandview Avenue, as well as a trailhead kiosk at the school.
During the creation of the new trail map, Debbie Gendreau, the assistant director of Bangor Department of Parks and Recreation, decided to name the main trails of the forest after local dogs that use (or used) the trails frequently.
“They all have a story,” Gendreau said.
The main trails are Bosco’s Run, which is marked in green on the map and measures 0.73 mile long; Tucker’s Trek (blue, 0.34 mile); and Cooper’s Connection (gray, 0.07 mile). The only main trail that’s not named after a dog is Rams Way (red, 0.12 mile), which is named after Bangor High School’s mascot and leads to the high school.
From left (clockwise): Juno pauses in the middle of a trail in Prentiss Woods in Bangor on Jan. 10, during her first official “hike”; A sign marks the parking area for Prentiss Woods; Sunlight streams through the trees on Jan. 10, at Prentiss Woods in Bangor. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki | BDN
Next spring, Gendreau plans to erect signs for the trails at each intersection, which will make navigating the forest much easier.
In addition, the Bangor High School Bike Club Trails intersect with the network on the southwest side, and there are four short access trails that branch off the network and lead to the high school campus and the sidewalk along Grandview Avenue. (Gendreau said that the high school bike trails were created by students two years ago and need to be cleared. They’re easy to miss.)
One of the most distinctive features of the property is its abundance and variety of large trees, which provide cool shade to visitors during the summer. These towering trees include a number of evergreens, including tall white pines, fragrant balsam firs and straight eastern hemlocks, which keep the forest green even during the winter.
The forest is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, year round, and the parking area is plowed in the winter. The Bangor High School sports teams and physical education classes often use the trails throughout the school year, especially mid-afternoon. The trails are mostly used by walkers and runners; however, mountain biking is also permitted. Dogs are permitted if kept under strict voice control or on leash at all times.
For more information, visit bangormaine.gov or call 207-992-4200.
Personal note: Prentiss Woods will forever be my puppy Juno’s first official “hike,” though I didn’t learn until after our hike just how fitting that selection was. With the forest’s trails recently named after dogs, it’s certainly a dog-friendly place.
Taking a puppy to social settings such as a public trail network is somewhat controversial, believe it or not. There are diseases a puppy can pick up from the environment or other animals before their vaccines are fully effective, yet the first months of a puppy’s life are a crucial socialization period. So, we weighed the risks and spoke with professionals, and we decided what was best for us and Juno — and that was to introduce her to public trails in a very supervised manner, one short outing at a time.
With a small trail network of easy trails, Prentiss Woods was a great spot for us to walk with our now 20-pound pup. We knew that we could easily carry her back to the trailhead if she became tired or cold — two things you really need to watch out for with young dogs. And we knew that we’d likely run into a few fellow visitors, but it wouldn’t be as busy or overwhelming as the popular Bangor City Forest.
Near the trailhead, we came across an abundance of crow feathers strewn across the snow — evidence of a crow meeting its demise, perhaps to a great horned owl or eagle? Then, further into the trailhead, we came across another mess of feathers, and this time they were smaller feathers, further indicating that there was a skilled predator in the forest somewhere. Of course we had Juno on leash and weren’t worried in the least.
Throughout the walk, Juno showed great enthusiasm by shoving her face in snow and picking up pinecones. She sniffed tracks — both deer and human — and paused to listen to chickadees and crows, her head tilted to the side. When we did come across a few other trail users, Juno was surprised at first but quickly started to wag her tail in greeting. Mission accomplished. Next time we need to bring treats as a reward. With puppy training, there are so many things to remember. I guess the training goes both ways.
How to get there: A small trailhead parking lot for Prentiss Woods is located on Grandview Avenue, which spans between Broadway and Essex Street in Bangor. If traveling on I-95, take Exit 185 for Broadway. Turn north onto Broadway (Route 15) and drive 0.6 mile (past stores such as T.J. Maxx and Hannaford), then turn right onto Grandview Avenue. Drive about 0.3 mile and the parking lot will be on your left. (If you keep going Grandview Avenue, it ends at an intersection with Essex Street in another 0.3 mile.)
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.