Length: 805 ft. • Difficulty: 3 (Stretch of wetland)
Terrain: Peat, rocks, light vegetation, wetland
It’s too bad Raccoon Trail begins off the rather bumpy and annoyingly hard to manage first section of Moose Trail and has a 70-foot stretch of muck near the end. Otherwise, it would fit in well with Squirrel Trail in giving novice mountain bikers a sense of “real” mountain biking without having to worry about going over potentially dangerous obstacles. As of this writing (June 2006), there are no fallen trees or manmade obstacles to contend with on the 805-foot trail that connects the first section of Moose Trail to Squirrel Trail.
To reach the trail, take East Trail for about 0.8 miles from the Tripp Drive parking lot. Just before East Trail rises toward a bench you’ll see Moose Trail on the left. There is no trail sign for Moose, though.
About 264 feet along Moose, over ground gnarled with roots, mud, perhaps some standing water, and rocks, you’ll reach the Raccoon trail head sign, misspelled by the Bangor Forestry Department as “Racoon.”
The trail starts out in a northwesterly direction and curves slowly to due north, through thinned forest, the space left by the harvested trees replaced by increasingly dense bracken fern and bunchberry. The bunchberry plants slowly close in on the trail, making it narrower. Because the ground is flat, the roots in this area are easy to ride over, as are the rocks, which are mostly flat. Trees left behind from the thinning include spruce and birch.
The first of only two real challenges on the trail comes about 230 feet into the trail, where you’ll encounter rocks protruding from the ground. If you plan your line carefully and maintain your momentum, you shouldn’t have any problems getting through.
After the first set of rocks the trail slowly descends a couple of feet and goes through another batch of rocks that are so easy to ride through they aren’t worth noting on the trail map. Just be careful of the sharp edges that could puncture a tire if you don’t pay attention.
Halfway along the trail the ferns on either side are so close your feet will brush them as you ride through. This section of the trail is wide open to the sky, enabling the ferns, bunchberry, and even a small batch of sheep laurel to grow. The birch trees give way to much younger deciduous trees such as aspen and maple, which are bunched together on the right-hand side.
Another 300 feet will take you to Raccoon’s most formidable obstacle, a 70-foot stretch of muck that a lot more often than not will have a good 2 inches to 3 inches of standing water on the surface. As you might expect, the conditions here are ripe for moss and tall grasses to grow. And because the water has been sitting atop the mud for so long, the odor can be unpleasant at times, particularly on hot, humid days.
Only the best and strongest of riders will be able to go through the muck without getting mired in it. Everyone else would do better to get off and portage. If it’s spring or early summer, don’t let the opportunity to take a closer look at what can qualify as a vernal pool pass you by, for you may see pollywogs, frogs, or even salamanders.
The trail ends about 150 feet later when it intersects with Squirrel Trail. Turning right onto Squirrel will take you to East Trail in about 60 feet. Turning left onto Squirrel will enable you to go to Main Road, either directly using Squirrel or over Skunk Trail.
© 2001-09, Ryan R. Robbins. All rights reserved.
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