It’s the same every year: January rolls by at a snail’s pace and February whizzes by like a cheetah on a chase. The calendar continued to remind me that February vacation week was quickly approaching and I knew I would have a nonstop work schedule. If I wanted to get out for a hike, now was the time.
I love the Farmington area and wanted to continue my trail exploration there. By way of clicks on the internet and receiving beta from a friend, I set my sights on the Powder House Hill Trails.
The trail network comprises 188 acres and grants access to multiple users, such as hikers, bikers, responsible dog walkers and snowshoers. I’ve heard it’s also an outdoor getaway for many schooltime outings for local area children.
Bonney Woods Corporation owns and manages the trail network and — fun fact — it is Maine’s oldest nonprofit organization. Pretty neat!
Powder House Hill Trails consists of five “neighborhoods” that link together: Willow Springs, Horn Woods, Village Woods, Flint Woods and Bonney Woods. Arriving downtown on Route 27, I turned onto Anson Street and quickly came upon the trailhead to Flint Woods.
It was a beautiful, bluebird sky kind of morning and the warm temperature made it feel like one of those first days of spring that leave you feeling giddy and alive.
I was nursing the tail end of a sore throat, so I grabbed my Thermos of tea, threw on my backpack that housed my camera, and set off on the trail.
It was a peaceful morning to walk along the forest trail. It was packed down and the snow-covered forest floor was littered with small twigs, moss and pieces of tree bark, probably thanks to a recent wind storm.
After my initial glance at the trail map and seeing the numerous trails weaving in every direction, I wondered if it was easy to figure out which trail you were on or wanted to take. In a moment’s time, I had my answer. At the numerous intersections were thoughtfully placed trail signs, and it was easy to find my way.
Before I left my house that morning, I noted the Green Loop trail featured a lookout point. I remember thinking that this trail network was smack dab in the middle of Farmington and wondered what kind of view a middle-of-town trail could offer.
After departing the Yellow Loop trail, I followed the green blazes for a handful of minutes and noticed an area up ahead that looked like it opened up.
The lookout point was the most welcoming spot. Two wooden benches offer folks a seat and chance to take in the view of Mt. Blue off in the distance. I sat down on one to stop and appreciate the view, and then my eyes were drawn to something in the snow out in front of me.
Someone had taken the time to gather dried leaves, maybe from a nearby oak or beech tree, and put them in the shape of a heart.
A seemingly simple act by a stranger can offer something larger for the next person. Up until that point on the trail, my thoughts had been with a childhood friend who recently, and unexpectedly, lost her father. After seeing the dried leaf heart, my sadness for her turned into a loving smile and feeling, which I sent her way.
I followed the yellow blazes on the trees back toward my car in the parking lot. My steps took me through areas of cool shadows and warm sunlight, and it made me think how we move through this path internally as well.
I thought about how each and every one of us is continually moving through times of darkness and light, through sadness and happiness, of varying depths. And, just like walking through the shadows and sunlight on a hike, those feelings come and go, lasting shorter or longer than the last time.
Nature can be a wonderful place to spend time when you are experiencing either. The trail welcomes anyone at any time with open hands, always. You can take its medicine, or like the stranger who made the heart in the snow, leave a little medicine for the next person.
I left the trailhead feeling fulfilled, yet again, by my time outside. If you find yourself driving through the quaint town of Farmington one day, I hope you take the opportunity to go for a stroll through the forest that make up Powder House Hill Trails. You never know what you’ll find in the woods.