Length: 1,020 ft. • Difficulty: 3 (rocks and some roots)
Terrain: Peat, rocks, roots, clear-cut, densely wooded
One of the newly recognized trails by the city’s forestry department, Woodchuck Trail connects West Trail to the Veazie Railroad bed. It begins 0.75 miles from the junction of East and West trails and Main Road on the northern end of a clear-cut, not far beyond the Loop Road clear-cut, which you can see off the east side of West Trail. Look for a couple of cedar trees at the beginning.
The forest floor consists mostly of peat through the first stretch of the trail, with light root cover in the beginning that becomes a bit more dense the farther you go. Smooth rocks stick up from the ground in this area also.
With the woods on your right and straight ahead, the clear-cut will be on your left now. You will be able to see how quickly the forest regenerates itself, with spruce trees popping up here and there from the leftover clear-cut debris, which provides excellent cover for any red-tailed squirrels in the area.
About 90 feet along the trail you’ll encounter the first potentially serious obstacle, a pool of mud that lies on the cusp of mixed forest land consisting of wetter ground, most of which lies to the northern side of the trail.
After arcing to the left, taking the trail from a northwesterly direction to a southwesterly direction, you’ll encounter another batch of rocks and roots, about 260 feet beyond the mud pool. About 50 feet beyond the roots and rocks, you’ll reach a junction where the trail splits to the west and to the southwest. Woodchuck continues along the right prong, taking you west initially before curving northwest. The landscape in this area changes to a densely wooded grove of spruce trees, with bunchberry bordering the trail. Be cautious hiking or riding through this area because the trail is tight with spruce trees on either side; the curve makes it impossible to see approaching bikers and hikers.
The dense thicket of spruce trees on either side of the trail is prime habitat for snowshoe hares and chipmunks, although your chances of catching a good view of a hare are a bit long because of the limited visibility.
Next you’ll pass a survey line, denoted by trees marked with yellow paint. The line runs southwest to northeast.
Right after the survey line the spruce trees give way to a wider variety of species, with some pitch pine and white pine thrown in, as well as what appear to be oak, aspen, and maple trees. If you look at the leaves of the deciduous trees, you may notice that some appear to have bites taken out of them, evidence that deer have been in the area.
After another 100 feet, Woodchuck turns sharply to the right, heading west. Twenty feet or so later, another trail connects on the left. The connecting trail will take you south and along the original West Trail.
Continuing along Woodchuck for another 40 feet, you will encounter a short stretch of rocks that will last about 20 feet. From this point on, the pine and spruce trees slowly give way to birch, oak, maple, and aspen trees as the land becomes increasingly moist. The trail widens a bit and rocks exposed from erosion become more numerous, but not much more than a nuisance at points. As you reach the end of the trail, you’ll go over a dense stretch of roots before descending a few feet into the wider open space of the Veazie Railroad bed.
If you take a lefthand turn onto the former rail bed, you can pick up Suicide Ridge Trail 0.2 miles later on the east side or Ledge Trail 0.28 miles later on the east side. You can also try out any of the Walden-Parke Preserve trails on the west side of the bed. Turning right onto the rail bed will also take you to some Walden-Parke trails to the west, and to Main Road at City Forest, 0.74 miles to the north.
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