Explore this trail near a school in Hamden with Enock, Outdoor Accessibility Specialist. Part one of his latest downeast adventures.
REED BROOK TRAILS
Hey fellow hikers! Our school trails project brings me to the down east area this week. I spent 3 days checking out trails from Hampden to Calais. I found some real gems, and some not so shiny...
My first stop, just because it was on the way, was Reed Brook Trails at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. The description on MTF for these trails didn’t give much to go on.
Located in the heart of Hampden, Maine, Reeds Brook Trails have been developed as a collaborative effort between community volunteers, members of the Penobscot Valley Ski Club, Troop 41 Boy Scouts, and RSU22. The trails are intended to be accessible, multipurpose (non-motorized), four season recreational trails for all members of the greater Hampden community. All non-motorized activity is welcome, including skiing, running, biking, walking, and snowshoeing. Motorized vehicles of any kind are prohibited on the trails.
The description does say the trails are intended to be accessible. However, I am not sure if it means accessible as in easy to access or accessible as in able to be used by people with disabilities. Either way it was on my list, so I decided to give it a go and see what I could find. When I arrived, I found a 3-space parking area. There wasn't an accessible space marked off, but I parked all the way to the left so I could use the adjacent grass area to get out of my van.
After looking around a bit, I found the start of the trail off the edge of the road. It is about a 6% grade so not hard to do.
There is a really good map of the trail system across a field of grass.
I decided to do the loop marked by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and back to 2, also known as the north loop. The numbers mark intersections in the trail and make it really easy to navigate. Unfortunately, we either missed some of the numbers or they are missing, so the navigation part actually turned out to be confusing. The entire trail surface is mowed grass paths.
With the huge amount of rain we have had this year, there were a lot of muddy wet spots. Some spots were pools of water. My gloves were soaked.
I have seen quite a few descriptions refer to a mowed grass path as accessible. I just want to clarify that grass is not an accepted accessible surface for this exact reason as shown above. Even without rain and mud, the surface can be very soft. Soft surfaces tend to take the effort put into pushing and transfer it into the ground, instead of into the forward momentum of the chair.
There were also a few sections of roots that made it a little difficult.
After completing this section I attempted to try the 7, 8, 9, 10 section, the south loop. I didn’t make it very far past intersection 7 because I came to a huge dirt hill.
I think it is unlikely this trail will be made accessible with a firm surface, since it is a cross-country racing trail. I did find it hard to push on but it was a good workout. Also, without all this rain, it would have been much better. If you like beautiful grassy trails through the woods, this one's for you! Just keep in mind it may be muddy and difficult to push a wheelchair.
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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