Whether you come upon a plant slowly devouring an insect or the grave of gangster Al Brady, a walk through Maine’s Bangor area is an adventure.
Maine often elicits mental images of moose in the woods; visitors can find them at the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. But a visit to Maine should also include a stroll through downtown Bangor and brewery samplings, or a walk through the second-oldest garden cemetery in the country. Unusual vegetation, such as carnivorous plants, also grows along the Orono Bog Walk, making a stroll through it far from your typical walk in the woods.
Each of these four walks feature accessible and short trails for groups with a variety of fitness levels. Not only does Bangor offer a range of places where your group can walk, but the Queen City of the East also serves as a jumping-off point for some of Maine’s other natural wonders, such as Acadia National Park and the Appalachian Trail.
Any of these walks in Bangor can prove a pleasant and educational way to experience the area’s richness in history and wildlife.
Orono Bog Walk
Sundew and pitcher plants emit scents to attract insects so they can trap the bugs inside their flowers and then slowly digest them. This gruesome reality is hidden among the lovely vegetation visible along the one-mile Orono Bog Walk.
“The Orono Bog Walk works for all ages and all physical types, even if you are in a wheelchair,” said Kerrie Tripp, executive director of the Greater Bangor Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It is one of the coolest places in the Bangor area. I’ve seen lots of wildlife there. Each season has something new.”
Groups can follow the seven interpretive stations along the boardwalk route at their own pace or sign up for a private guided tour of the 10,000-year-old bog. Guides point out the ecology and natural history found along the boardwalk, such as how the bog’s highly acidic water stunts the growth of trees and flowers.
Plant matter in the former lake bed creates perfect conditions for carpets of wet peat moss. This watery ground makes it impossible to see a bog up close without wet feet, which is why the boardwalk has become a popular way to view the area’s rare plant species, wildlife and geology.
Mount Hope Cemetery
After his infamous killing spree, Brady thought he and his gang had found a safe hideout in the backwoods of Maine in 1937. His error led to his death during a gunfight with FBI agents in downtown Bangor.
Subsequently, the gangster ended up buried in an unmarked grave at Mount Hope Cemetery, which contains not just the famous Public Enemy No. 1, but also a vice president, U.S. senators, Civil War generals, lumber barons and other local residents of interest. Its intriguing history led to the creation of walking tours through the 1834 cemetery by the Bangor Historical Society.
Guided tours point out Brady’s resting place and tell other interesting stories about those interred at the cemetery, such as Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president. Historians also reveal how the town built the second-oldest garden cemetery in the country in hopes of attracting not just the dead, but also the living seeking respite from urban landscapes.
“It has ponds, plants and great walking paths,” said Tripp. “When setting up the cemetery, they wanted people to go there to picnic or just reflect at the spot where their loved ones were.”
Guides also point out symbolic gravestones, war monuments, city vistas and filming locations for the Stephen King movie “Pet Sematary.”