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Wild Orono

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Davis Conservation Easement Trail Davis Conservation Easement Trail

ORONO — Finding a good day hike can be hard. Most of the scenic trails have been blazed Downeast or up in the North Woods. However, the greater Bangor area offers many great trail systems for people to get out, exercise and improve their health. Sunkhaze Meadows in Milford, the University of Maine trail system in Orono and the Bangor City Forest are just a sampling of what is out there.

The Orono Land Trust maintains several wonderful trails in and around the college town. Among these is the Davis Conservation Easement, a great short hike right in Orono’s wild backyard. Classed as a “forever wild” easement, it protects a strip of land between Route 2 and I-95. Visitors can see a rare variety of sedge that is endemic to Penobscot County and that grows along the trail, the Orono Sedge (carex oronensis).

The trail is accessed from the Gardner Road in Orono, a half mile south of the Kelly Road. Follow the Gardner Road until it turns to dirt; a kiosk and parking area is visible on the left.

The first leg of the trail follows an old extension of the Gardner Road that was once used for logging. Blue blazes mark out the path, which twists and turns through a young pine forest and does not require any hill climbing. On the first leg, the trail is fairly overgrown, so attend to the blue blazes. It runs level for nearly a half mile until it reaches the interstate, which is just visible through the trees. From there the trail turns back towards the old Gardner Road, completing the whole loop just shy of a mile.

Despite the shortness of the trail, more opportunities for hiking can be found near the Davis Conservation Easement. The old Gardner Road, which completes the trail loop, continues farther into Orono’s wild backyard beyond the conservation area. A former logging road, it does not have formal trail markings, but is well trodden, although at point undergrowth does create chokepoints along the trail.

The old Gardner Road goes through the forest, emerging periodically among wide fields of wild flowers. The scent of the various species fills the hike, making for a pleasant experience. Much like the trail in the Davis Conservation Easement, the hiking on the old Gardner Road is easy. It remains level hiking throughout, once or twice making a brief descent. The trail allows hikers to depart temporarily from the marked path and experience nature in the raw. And since the trail has a light volume of visitors, hikers can count on a peaceful and quiet time.

Other off-shoots provide further opportunities for exploration, but the old Gardner Road can be followed all the way to Route 2, a half-mile down from the entrance to the Gardner Road. Hikers can follow the trail back to the kiosk and trailhead or follow the road back to the trailhead.

Hikers interested in visiting the Davis Conservation Easement should bring bug spray to ward off black flies, mosquitoes and ticks. Dogs are welcome, so long as they are restrained with a leash.

For information about the Davis Conservation Easement, visit www.mainetrailfinder.com/Trail/davis-conservation-easement. Go to the Orono Land Trust website, www.oronolandtrust.org, for information on this trail and more.

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