The Orono Bog Boardwalk, adjacent to the Bangor City Forest, is located off Stillwater Avenue just north of the Bangor Mall area. The easy, flat 1-mile Boardwalk, celebrating its 20th year in 2022, is a joint venture of the University of Maine, the City of Bangor, and the Orono Land Trust. Updates on conditions and opening hours are available through the Boardwalk’s Facebook page. The Boardwalk is closed during the winter, and from the designated opening day in the spring through Labor Day, open from 7 am to 6:30 pm, with hours gradually getting shorter in September and October until closing for winter the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when it is 8 am to 3:30 pm. We had visited the Boardwalk before as a stopover to stretch our legs on the way back south from Katahdin.
On a rainy late September morning, I parked at the Bangor City Forest parking lot on Tripp Road and turned immediately right onto the wide flat East-West Loop Trail through the trees. It was quiet, except for red squirrels, and a little over a quarter mile to the Boardwalk, the entrance situated behind an information kiosk, a picnic table, and a bike rack. There are restroom facilities available, close by and clearly marked. The Boardwalk elevates over the bog, which is filled with large, lush ferns, wide leaves of skunk cabbage, and ash and maple trees perched on hummocks, with periodic benches to sit and watch the plants and wildlife. I heard but didn’t see a white-breasted nuthatch and a hairy woodpecker.
After moving through the trees, the Boardwalk opens wide onto the 616-acre Orono Bog itself, with blueberries, cranberries, exotic-looking pitcher plants of all colors, and red peat moss, an almost impossible variety and density of life that looks like a Hollywood CGI version of another planet. I saw many low-lying bog rosemary plants, named only for their resemblance to the herb, as they are poisonous members of the Andromeda family.
In this wider area, I heard the frequent sound of jays and smaller birds. A small brown bird disappeared into a hummock right in front of me, and I puzzled over its disappearance, until it zoomed out on the other side, circling in watching me: a small, bobbing palm warbler. A series of educational placards dotted the Boardwalk, with relevant plants and wildlife. On the return I took a slightly different route after leaving the Boardwalk loop back to the parking area for the end of this short hike.