Perch Pond Woodlot / by Greg Westrich

The Perch Pond Woodlot in Old Town is a lot like the Bangor City Forest. The trails are mostly mountain bike single tracks or disused logging roads. And there are lots of them. But unlike the Bangor City Forest, you can spend the day hiking in Perch Pond Woodlot and not see another soul.


To get there, head north on Maine 16 (Bennoch Road) from Stillwater Avenue. In a half mile, turn left onto Kirkland Road. There are three trailheads into the Woodlot. (Two on Kirkland north of Poplar Street and one on Poplar 2.5 miles from Kirkland.) I hiked in from the North Trailhead, which is on the left side of Kirkland 2.7 miles past Poplar Street.


I hiked a nearly five-mile loop making use of a half dozen trails. I wanted to see what the Woodlot had to offer and spend as much time as possible walking along the shore of Perch Pond—that's Mud Pond to you old timers.


The trails wander, as mountain bike trails are wont to do, through a mixed forest that varies in composition with small changes in elevation and drainage. In places the trail crosses mostly open areas where moss and lichen grow in luxurious mats. Young birch trees crowd in from the surrounding woods.


The Ladies First Trail followed high ground through a bright beech woods. The samplings mostly still had their leaves, which rattled in the breeze. The forest floor was carpeted with parchment leaves, covering the uneven ground.


Along the shore of the pond, groves of hemlock stand tall and proud. The ground littered with fractured hunks of shale and rusting scales (what hemlock needles are called). Red-trunked cedars grow out over the water and wherever standing water collects. They lean this way and that like drunken sailors.


Against the dryer lint gray sky, the choppy lake looked black. I accidentally flushed a pair of common mergansers. They flew off quacking hoarsely. Their stubby wings a blur as they flew out across the pond, staying a few feet above the water.


I stopped for a snack on a bridge over a wetland along the Spruce Road. On the map, it's marked as a small pond, but really it's a sedge-choked meadow. A small clear stream meanders through it among the skeletons of spruce trees. Goldfinches flitted across the bog. I could follow their flight by merry calls, but I never actually saw one.


As I followed the grass road back to the trailhead, I stopped to watch a flycatcher move from perch to perch atop the leafless trees. At each stop it called and wagged its tail. At first I thought it was a phoebe, but the song lacked the clear syllables and in the flat light it seemed too pale. Whatever it was I enjoyed its company.