This is a guest post written by Enock Glidden, MTF Accessibility Ambassador, Public Speaker, Adaptive Athlete, and Adventurer. To learn more about Enock, please visit his website.
Hey fellow hikers, if you have been reading along with my posts, you saw (back in June!) that I had to go back to Harpswell to check out an accessible trail. I found out about this trail from one of the maintenance crew working at George J. Mitchell Field.
Before I get to that amazing trail, you know I can’t just do one trail a day. I have to get in as much hiking as possible.
The first property I visited for the day was Woodward Point Preserve in Brunswick. The only page I could find on Maine Trail Finder for this property is an event from 2020. Hopefully, it will get updated soon. This is another place I had heard about from someone at an event I attended. [Ed. Note: We have since added Woodward Point Preserve to MTF!]
This is a really beautiful old farm property. The parking lot is about as perfect as you can get. There is a concrete pad in front of the building and the rest of the lot is flat and has a firm dirt surface.
Most of the trails are mowed paths through the fields which are actually really easy to push on. I decided to try the 0.1-mile kayak launch trail first since it would be the quickest way to the water. Unfortunately, I encountered a really thick bog bridge that wasn’t wide enough for my wheelchair. It wasn’t very far into the trail so I just turned around to go across the road to the big field and try those trails.
The field trails were a much better experience. They are really firm and mostly smooth with occasional ruts. They are even mostly downhill. There are a few small hills that are not steep at all. The one major issue is the cross-slope. The trail runs along the outside of the field. The field is almost like a crowned road. When hiking along the trail you are basically running parallel with the crown. The slope isn't super steep but it makes it more difficult to push with one arm and maintain the chair in a straight line with the other.
There are also benches for resting which is always good to see.
Eventually I came to the boundary line where a decision needed to be made. Should I go right into the woods or go left and stay on the field trail?
I chose to go left and stay in the field because it looked like the easiest path. That eventually led me to the other side of the field and into the woods. It didn’t take long to realize I should not to do this part of the trail alone.
I turned around and made my way back to the other side of the field to try that section of woods trail and ran into the same conditions. While I was very happy to see a nicely built boardwalk, the terrain beyond seemed like I may need some assistance or at least someone there just in case.
I figured it was best to make my way back to the van and onto the next location, but I am hoping to go back with help and get down the water.
I would rate this one Wheelie Easy in the field and Wheelie Moderate in the woods for now. I will go back and check the woods to be sure at some point.
I then traveled to Harpswell and I want to say Harpswell really knows how to do it right! First, there are an amazing number of places to hike. The most exciting part is that a lot of them are quite accessible and some are perfectly accessible. The most accessible trail is the Cliff Trail behind the Harpswell town office. The trail is newly built. In fact, I was told I was the first wheelchair user to try it out. [Ed. Note: MTF Accessibility Ambassadors Aggie and Molly also checked out the Cliff Trail. We published their blog first even though Enock visited first!]
This trail totally proves how great Harpswell's trails are! The trail is 0.4 miles each way. It isn't super long but it feels longer and is super scenic. It starts out with one of 4 amazing bridges. They are expertly made and graded into the trail with very little edge rising above the trail surface.
The surface is very smooth and firm with some small gravel. It winds along Woodward Cove through some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen About a tenth of a mile or so into the trail they provided another awesome feature. It is an overlook platform allowing people to get out into the cove and see in both directions. It is downhill to the platform but it is a very gradual downhill.
A little further into the woods there is a fairy house-building zone for kids and adults alike. There is also an intersection with the former Cliff Trail which is definitely not accessible but I have a feeling it could be.
The trail culminates at a beautiful picnic spot with an accessible picnic table. They really did think of everything when constructing this trail. I was super impressed.
I would definitely rate this trail Just Plain Accessible. There is no question about it. Awesome job Harpswell! I will definitely be back.
Oh and I almost forgot. Everywhere I found a porta-potty it was accessible. I found a total of 4 throughout Harpswell!
On the way home I stopped at a few places to check the trailheads to see if they might be doable. I found possibilities but I am going back with some help for those areas.
I love getting tips from people to check out hidden gems. If you have any recommendations let me know in the comments and I will do my best to get to them. This also helps us add more trails to Maine Trail Finder!
This year I am hoping to get some group or one on one hikes together. I would love to interview other people with disabilities about their experiences in the outdoors. The more perspectives we can get the better the information will be and the more progress we can make.
If you have a different type of mobility issue or a 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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