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! I made it back from the first half of the Maine Trail Finder Northern Maine Tour! The weather was hot and I bit off a bit more than I could handle in such a short time. I ended up only doing four trails this time around. When the weather gets a bit cooler I am headed back to do a lot more. [Ed. note: We have been spacing out Enock's posts. He wrote this in July, but we only have gotten the chance to post it now!]
My first stop on the tour was Houlton, Maine to do the Meduxnekeag River Trail. I put this one on the list because a friend of mine has posted many pictures from their daily walks during lunch. The views are amazing and I had to see it for myself.
The trail starts right downtown in Houlton at Riverfront Park. The park is really well done with a perfect parking lot, picnic areas, and accessible bathrooms.
The trail begins just as well done as the park. There is a gate across the trail with a side entrance around it. The entrance is more than wide enough to be accessible.
I suspect this trail was once a farm road since it is at least eight feet wide with a gravel surface. The gravel is small enough that it didn't make it harder to push a long the trail but it did rattle my chair a bit.
At the beginning part of the trail there are a few accessible benches for resting with beautiful views of the river and there is one more beautful picnic/sitting area after the trail crosses under a bridge.
Past this bridge, the experience becomes a little less accessible. The surface of the trail actually gets smoother because it is hard packed clay and mud but it also has more imperfections.
Another odd thing I noticed was the use of Adirondack chairs at the resting areas once the trail became less accessible. These chairs are nice to sit in but completely inaccessible. I can’t see too many people being able to get up out of them after sitting down. Luckily I brought my own chair - haha.
There are a few muddy areas along the trail where they used gravel to combat the problem. They laid it very thick so it made it quite difficult to push. I did make it through.
There are convenient maps scattered along the trail with "you are here" symbols. It made it really easy to see how far I had gone and where I was going. They are a bit too tall for me to see from my wheelchair so I had to take a picture to view them.
I found a few roots near the end of the trail section that I was able to do. They aren't too big and are easily passed on either side of the trail. The surface was very smooth and hard in this section as well.
One spot has a very small trench to allow water to run across to the river. It was very easy to roll over as long as you hop the front tires.
There is an intersection where the trail forks. To the left it goes very steeply uphill. I obviously chose to stay to the right and had no issues with hills at all. This is what I like about trails that follow the rivers edge, they almost never go uphill.
This section of the trail ends about 1.25 miles from the parking lot with a beautiful spot to sit and view the river.
Other than the thick gravel and some roots this trail is very accessible. With a couple boardwalks over those muddy areas the trail along the river could be totally accessible. Oh and replacing the Adirondack chairs with benches.
The rating for this one is Wheelie Easy for the first half and Wheelie Moderate for the second half.
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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