Location: Orono, Maine
Webpage: University of Maine Park
General Description: A rich wetland of winterberry, red maple, black ash surrounding a peat bog of dwarfed spruce and tamarack, evergreen shrubs, cotton grass, colorful mosses, and insect-eating plants can be discovered at Orono Bog Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is 3,400 feet long loop through the peat bog that is accessed from the East Trail in the Bangor City Forest. There are seven interpretive signs along the boardwalk that highlight natural aspects of the wetland and its immediate surroundings along with benches for rest and quiet reflection.
1) There are multiple trails in the Bangor City Forest that can be hiked in the summer and skied in the winter. At about 800 feet up the East Trail is the beginning of the Orono Bog Boardwalk, which is actually within the town limits of Orono on University of Maine land.
2) They are currently replacing the hemlock boardwalk with a plastic “floating” boardwalk that is much easier to walk on then the wood. They have completed about a third of the loop trail and they are accepting donations to complete the rest.
3) The boardwalk begins in the mixed hardwood forest bordering the bog which is primarily red maple and associated species. As you cross over the “moat” that drains the bog you enter a spruce-tamarack forest that has standing water much of the year. There are interpretive signs along this part of the forest that give some useful information about the ecosystem.
4) The walk through the peat bog itself is very informative with the dwarf spruce and tamarack on small hummocks among fields of spaghnum moss in reds, oranges, and greens that delineate the relative height of the ground. The interpretive signs do an excellent job of explaining the different micro-ecosystems that you exist in the bog.
5) For instance, I learned that the dwarfed spruce which can be over 100 years old and yet only 2-3 feet tall, propagates by a process called layering. The lower limbs of the spruce become covered by the moss through which the spruce branches extend new roots. Over long periods of time, this creates small hummocks of soil above the water with slightly improved fertility. These small hummocks grow in size and begin to grow larger spruce and tamarack. A very interesting method of reproduction that I have not seen before.