BRANCH POND TRAIL

 

Access to Nana’s Secret Garden is by the Branch Pond Trail.  Manageable in the summer months, the trail includes several steep descents which can be treacherous.  Traversing this terrain  should not be attempted without technical climbing gear and a party of four during the winter months.

 

Because the blazes may become obscured in poor weather, hikers are cautioned to stay together, register before hiking and check-in upon returning.

 

The trail, portions of which were rerouted in 2006 to conform with new DOI guidelines, follows the remains of the Bangor Hydro Tote Road which was abandoned when logging operations ceased about 1920. 

 

Beginning at the SE corner of an old barn, constructed in the second to last decade of the last century and thereafter used seasonally, the trail head is marked with a white blaze on an old beech visible from the parking lot in good weather.

 

From the trail head, the trail follows the Northeast Ridge, descending sharply at first over a stone field, the remnants of a retaining wall, and enters a thicket.  At 24 paces it passes Halfway Rock and at 26 paces crosses a dry stream, bends sharply to the left then descends through a new growth of poplar.

 

Vigilance is necessary at halfway rock.  A major blow down from the winter of ’06-07 could not be cleared until a crew reached the site at the end of the summer of ‘07 resulting in a bypass trail which now,  departs from the main trail at .3 meters before the site of the old blow down and may be confused with the main trail.  

 

Continuing in old growth, at 28 paces an iron rod (found) is visible on the left, a remnant of the Webster Survey.

 

The trail then bears right and descends steeply adjacent to a large fern covered boulder.  Immediately to the north of the boulder is visible debris from logging operations conducted during the past century.  The route crosses a dry stream bed and ascends for 8 paces along the center of the original Gotts Stream.  Vigilance is needed to locate the junction of the trail where it departs to the right, rejoining the former Tote Road as cairns marking this route may be washed away by freshets.  

 

At 32 paces a short trail (2 paces) connects this trail to the bear cave.  The bear cave is a secluded cavern formed by three erratics deposited by the last glacier. Bearing left the trail then scrambles over large boulders and suddenly emerges atop an exposed outcropping with good views to the SE.

 

The trail turns sharply to the right, descends over a gently sloping bed of pine needles and terminates at the secret garden.

 

The garden is marked by fourteen concrete blocks commemorating the birth of several descendants of Jane and Ralph (Jr.) Whedon. Care should be taken as the oldest of these blocks are covered with abundant Aspirigent mosses and lichens which cause a caustic rash if consumed.   

 

Time from the barn to the garden 2.6 minutes 55 paces return 2.7 minutes.

 

An alternate return is possible via the North Lawn Trail.  This route was cut in 2006 as an alternative to allow easier access for parents wishing to retrieve their children from the bear caves or Aspirigent mosses.