Length: 2,534 ft. • Difficulty: 5 (stretches of dense roots and mud)
Terrain: Few rocks overall, moderate to dense tree cover, dense roots and mud, two brooks
A dead end trail by the official Bangor City Forest map, Quinn Trail takes hikers and bikers from West Trail into the rawest parts of the woods that surround the 650-plus acre park. It is a trail best suited for bikers who don’t mind dealing with roots gnarled on the surface of the forest floor, long stretches of wet and soft ground, and, of course, the obligatory onslaught of mosquitoes that accompany the surrounding wetlands.
For the purposes of this review, the trail begins off West Trail just before the breach in the rock wall that borders the arboretum’s northwestern side and ends at the power lines on the western boundary of the forest. The trail starts out easy, with pine needles carpeting the forest floor, few roots, and some rocks that aren’t difficult to maneuver around. But after 280 feet, the trail quickly changes its personality, with roots creeping over the trail.
The trail stays to the left of the 2006 spring clearing and then goes back into heavy tree cover, where you will encounter a thick stretch of roots sticking up, followed by a 60-foot stretch of rocks. Here, the ground slowly becomes increasingly softer, with moss creeping onto the trail and covering most of the rocks, which are larger than the rocks found in the center of the forest.
Relief from the rough ground is short after the stretch of rocks and roots, as you will encounter the first of many mud pits, with this first one complicated by roots.
The trail then makes a 90-degree turn to the right and heads west through even more troublesome roots before going through the second mud pit, which is about 15 feet long and frequently has standing water. This is a seasonal brook that drains into the marsh to the left of the trail and is most active in the early spring. On the other side of the mud pit you’ll have to get over a short but steep 1-foot embankment guarded by roots running across the trail. If you haven’t already gotten off your bike to get through the mud, you’ll probably want to lift it over the roots.
About 60 feet later, you’ll reach a rotting tree trunk lying near a fork in the trail. Bear left, taking the left prong of the fork, to stay on the actual trail. The next 50 feet or so of the trail will take you past another small clearing cut by the forestry department in spring 2006. From this point on, you’re pretty much entering an undisturbed section of the forest as you go over several fallen trees, more rough roots, and more soft ground. Natural debris consisting of broken branches, collapsed birch trees, and fallen spruce trees litters the ground on either side of the trail. You’ll
notice that a lot of the trees still standing in this area have bark stripped near the base and up to three feet to four feet above the ground. This is evidence of deer feeding in the area or scraping their antlers.
The trail makes a sharp turn to the south and over two more fallen trees before resuming its overall westerly direction. What little direct sunlight makes it through the forest canopy in this area has enabled a small patch of bunchberry to grow next to the trail.
A brook feeding the marsh will require you to carry your bike over it, as the makeshift logs placed over the water to the right aren’t sturdy enough to hold a moving bike. On the other side of the brook you’ll then go under a falling birch tree that is broken in two and arched over the trail. Another small opening in the forest canopy enables grasses and ferns to grow along this stretch.
Upon ducking under the falling birch tree, you will reach an uprooted spruce tree that has fallen across the trail. You will have to dismount and push your bike under the trunk, which is still about 4 ½ feet to 5 feet above the trail. You will still be going through quite a long stretch of wet and muddy ground.
Soon you’ll reach yet another fallen tree, this one on the ground. You’ll notice a survey line running across Quinn, going southwest-northeast, denoted by yellow paint on trees in that direction. In addition to being a survey line, this path to the right is also an extension of Grouse Trail. Be forewarned, though: If you want to take Grouse Trail in hopes of finding easier ground, you won’t find it, as the Grouse extension is mostly soft, wet, and rocky.
Relief from the mud soon arrives, though, as the trail gradually rises onto firmer, drier ground. For the next few hundred feet, you’ll go through a patch of young deciduous trees such as maple and aspen that provide a buffer between the trail and the conifers as the trail curves to the left and then heads southwest. What roots there are through this area should be manageable.
At a rotting stump that is covered with moss and lichen, the trail will fork to the right and to the left. You can take either the left or right prong; both are still Quinn Trail. If you stay to the left, you will reach another junction in 163 feet, with your choices being going to the right or left. If you go left, you’ll reach the power lines. If you go right, you’ll reach a junction in only 65 feet. Take a left at this junction to continue down Quinn. Take a right if you want to return to the beginning of Quinn.
For those who take the left to continue down the trail, the ground rises, pushed up by the underlying roots. But the trail is easy as it now meanders in and out of small pocks of clearings through a moderate to heavy patch of spruce trees before emerging into the open where power lines border the forest. Officially, the trail ends at the opening, but it does continue through the opening and on the other side, which is the Bangor Land Trust’s Northeast Penjajawoc tract.
© 2001-09, Ryan R. Robbins. All rights reserved.
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