I recently was on Facebook and got a friend request from Steve Minich from WMTW 8 news. I first thought that it was very odd. I have never met him. Why would he be adding me? I saw a few of my friends were on his friends list. I figured it must be legit so I added him. He messaged me and told me he had seen my work with Maine Trail Finder. He wanted to do a story about me for his Community Champions segment. I knew this would be a great opportunity to get the word out about accessible trails in Maine. I told him I would love to.
I went to Maine Trail Finder to find what I thought would be the perfect location for us to check out a trail and also be able to talk. I decided on Alewive Woods Preserve in Kennebunk.
I had never been there. I wanted to be able to genuinely show how I assess a trail.
I arrived a little early to take some pictures of the sign and parking lot. It wasn’t long before Steve and his cameraman showed up.
We got set up and took off down the main trail. It was supposed to be the White Trail according to the map but all the trees had red blazes. I didn’t question it as we weren’t going to hike very far. We did about a quarter of a mile to get a good sense of what I do and to be able to show people some aspects of the trail. We ended back at the parking lot, did an interview and then parted ways.
I decided to stay and really give the preserve an overall assessment. I will say now I ended up thinking I should have just left with them. You will understand if you read on.
The first half mile of the trail is very accessible. It is a hard-packed forest floor and dirt with minimal roots. There is one section that has a significant amount of roots in the center of the trail. The trail is so wide that it allows a wheelchair to avoid the roots simply by picking a side and going around the roots.
At the end of that first section, I came to a sign and map. The maps are very good in the preserve. They all have a "you are here" mark. This is where things got interesting and somewhat frustrating. If you look closely the marker says I am at the intersection of the White and Red Trails.
I wanted to go the Alewive Pond so I kept going straight. The trail is still very easy to push on for another 0.2 miles according to the map.
I then came to the intersection of the White and Blue Trails. The only problem was that I could not find any blazes other than red. They appeared to be going in the direction of the Blue Trail, according to the map.
I kept following the red blazes and this is where things got tough. I eventually came to a bog bridge that was quite rotted and breaking apart. There happened to be a side trail around it. It looks like people have been avoiding that bridge for a very long time. The side trail was very steep but only for a short distance. I decided to get out of my chair and crawl to the spot where it flattened out again. I was determined to see that pond!
Unfortunately not long after this bridge, I came upon a show-stopping feature -- a very steep muddy hill with a bog bridge at the bottom. I didn’t think I would be able to get back up by myself so I thought the better of trying and turned around.
I wasn’t aware of it at the time but I was definitely on the right trail to get to the pond. Without blazes that match the color of the trail on the map, I couldn’t be sure.
After turning around I headed back the way I came until I found the last intersection (between the Blue and White Trails on the map). I decided to see what was down the White Trail that leads straight ahead from the direction I originally came. It is a really easy trail. It has a nice firm surface with very few roots or rocks. It is nice and wide and flat. There is one short section of sand that made it hard to push but was still passable.
It didn’t take long before I ran into another show-stopping moment. I could hear construction in the distance. Up ahead of me was a giant pile of dirt placed perfectly across the trail. I definitely had to turn around. That was ok though because according to the map, the White Trail just ends at the property boundary. It doesn’t go to the pond.
I know it doesn’t sound like it but I would definitely recommend visiting Alewive Woods Preserve, especially if you just want to get out in the woods and enjoy nature. It is an incredibly beautiful place. It has at least a .7 mile out and back trail, rated Wheelie Easy. I am going to go back at some point with help. I want to see if I can make it to that pond!
A trail that is easy to push on, has very few obstacles, and is mostly flat.
And what you all have been waiting for, the Community Champions segment came out on Friday, September 10. To view it, click the photo below. Thank you to Steve Minich for highlighting our work!
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a totally different disability and you visit this trail or others, please comment on this post and give us your feedback. The more knowledge we gather and share, the more people we can get outside using the trails of Maine!
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