Difficulty: Easy. Most of the trail network is wheelchair accessible. The trails are flat and smooth, gravel and forest floor. The total length of the trail is about 1 mile.
How to get there: The parking area to Brown Woods, marked with a large brown sign, is located off Ohio Street, 0.7 mile north of where Ohio Street meets Griffin Road.
Information: Surrounded by residential neighborhoods outside the busy city of Bangor, Brown Woods is 28 acres of beautiful forestland, filled with giant white pines. Owned by the City of Bangor, the land is maintained as a place for public recreation. The main walking trail is a little less than 1 mile long.
Open 6 a.m.-10 p.m., Brown Woods is a popular place for dog walking. Pet owners are required to have their dog on leash on all trails and areas in the park. Per city ordinance, pet owners must also pick up after their pets, removing and disposing of any dog waste. Signs reminding visitors of these rules are at the trailhead.
At the parking area, three trails head into the forest. Facing the trails, the middle trail and right-hand trail are two ends of the main trail, which forms a loop. The left-hand trail isn’t well maintained and soon tapers off; it may simply be a footpath created by visitors.
If you start by taking the center trail, you’ll head into forested wetland that dries out as you continue. Notice the variety of trees, including cedar, elm, spruce, beech and paper birch. But the most magnificent of them all are the towering white pines, which reach far above the rest.
As you walk along the trail, you’ll notice a side trail leading off to the right. It’s actually a cutoff trail and will lead back to the main trail, creating a smaller loop for a shorter walk.
If you continue on the main trail, it will curve right, and at the far end of the loop, you’ll see a side trail leading off to your left. The trail leads to a small pond bordered by exposed rock, across from which is a gravel pit. It’s not an especially scenic body of water, but you may want to check there for waterfowl, frogs and other wildlife. This is the only trail in the network that isn’t wheelchair accessible.
Back at the main trail, you may get a bit confused as some side trails lead out to residential areas. You’ll also come to the other end of the cutoff trail you passed earlier (on your right). Just stay on the wider main trail and it will lead back to the parking area, passing through a small clearing before ending next to the kiosk. (At the beginning, I describe it as the right-hand trail.)
Several wooden benches are located along the main trail for walkers to rest and observe wildlife, but there are no trail maps or signs. Also, expect to see graffiti on the trees and benches — for example, faces have been spraypainted onto the trunks of several beautiful old trees.
Motorized vehicles, fires and camping are not permitted. Visitors should remain on marked trails. Any facility damage should be reported to City of Bangor Forestry Division or the Department of Parks and Recreation. For information, visit www.bangorparksandrec.com or call 992-4490.
Personal note: I was a bit cramped for time on Easter Sunday, but the sunny morning drew me outdoors to explore Brown Woods, a decision that my dog Oreo showed enthusiasm for. Birdsong filled the forest and only amplified as we walked away from busy Ohio Street and the buzz of traffic faded.
While Brown Woods is close to my home, I’d only visited the small trail network once before. That morning, my boyfriend Derek and I wandered the trails, much of which was covered with a thick, soft carpet of fallen pine needles — which Oreo had fun rolling in.
The tall white pines took center stage in nearly every photo I took. Towering above all other vegetation, the old pines made the forest seem remote — not smack dab in the middle of one of Maine’s largest cities.
Beside the main trail, a styrofoam On-the-Run cup crowned a sapling pine. I plucked it off, then turned to find the plastic top of the cup (with a straw speared through it) resting in another sapling. I picked up the litter and dropped it off in the trash bin at the trailhead. Apparently someone couldn’t be bothered to walk with an empty cup for a few hundred feet.
But at least litter is something that can be cleaned up. The graffiti on the trees, however, is there to stay. Coloring the rough bark of several pines were random painted scribbles, symbols and pictures. While the faces painted on a few of the trees were interesting to look at (almost whimsical), I couldn’t help but look at it with disappointment, that someone would mar a tree that has been a part of Bangor for 100-some-odd years.
On a lighter note, the day was absolutely beautiful — springlike. We heard a variety of birds — including woodpeckers, drilling away on the trees around us — but the only birds we actually caught sight of were chickadees. Even Oreo can’t scare away Maine’s state bird.