Monday, December 31, 2007

Make Your Resolution Here

Another year has come and gone! We'd like you to think about Libby Hill Trails for your 2008 plans and resolutions. Here are some ideas:

January 12th - Attend our guided snowshoe trek to celebrate National Winter Trails Day (see our home page for more info)

January 19th - Winter Nature Snowshoe Walk - come with naturalist Carryl Widdowson to learn how diverse nature is in winter.

Ski our trails for free - yes you can ski cross country at no charge, compare that value anywhere!

Try Snowshoeing - attend one of our snowshoe events and call ahead to reserve a pair of snowshoes, it is the best way to get out in winter! The Harold Libbey and Outback trails offer some of the most diverse snowshoeing in southern Maine!

Come to the fun day March 1st - we have many events planned for our winter fun day March 1st. Visit the home page for more info!

Visit Libby Hill after winter - Libby Hill Trails offer year round recreation at all levels. Don't stop coming when the snow stops!

See what you are missing - Despite being in existence over 8 years, a majority of local residents haven't discovered what Libby Hill Trails have to offer. We offer guided tours, even by appointment if you wish. Don't wait another year before you discover what Libby Hill Trails can provide you for a recreational experience.

Happy New Year from Libby Hill!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Deer Have a Different View

We are so lucky to have early snow and cold temperatures so early this winter! Ski conditions have not been this good in over five years. It now looks like we are guaranteed skiing and snowshoeing through the winter. I get to go out and break trail on the 2.4 miles of snowshoe trails after a snow storm. While its not as bad as lugging a chainsaw out to the trails, breaking new trail in more than 6 inches of snow will certainly warm you up!

I do love seeing what makes the first tracks after a storm though. As usual the deer make their presence know everywhere. As you approach the areas with water, the tracks increase in frequency. I did notice that one deer instead of plodding through the 16 inches of snow on the ground, decided to jump with each stride. I saw tracks that were 10-15 feet apart that showed the deer continuing to leap for over 500 feet. As I proceeded I started to notice how many bedding sites (see photo above) had been used the night before. I counted over 22 deer bedding imprints in 9 different locations on the Harold Libbey and Outback trails.

I'm sure though, the deer aren't as keen on the snow as we are but you can read their stories in the snow as you set out on the trails!
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Great Tracking Snow

Tuesday's and now Thursday's light fluffy snow makes tracking animals very easy. You can find deer and squirrel tracks everywhere on Libby Hill. If go down to Thayer brook on the Harold Libbey Trail you will also see lots of coyote tracks (see photo on right). Some tracks also had good imprints of the claws as well. Of interest if you follow the tracks, is that the coyote actually went out on the ice and onto the top of the beaver house (don't try this yourself since the ice is thin). Coyotes do prey on beavers but beavers tend to stay in their houses eating the bark they stored there. There are lots of stories to be read in the snow, take the time to see how diverse the userrs of Libby Hill are!
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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gray News Article On Libby Hill

In case you missed it, we had an article in the Gray News this week. Click this link to see:

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Waiting

Our first snow season is on the radar for Monday. If we get 6 inches it should be enough to groom the trails for some pre-Christmas skiing! This winter we hope to get you more up to date trail conditions by having our grooming team post the conditions after they finish running the trails. To see those you will need to come to this blog area of our web page or directly here to our blog. It will also allow skiers to give feedback on conditions by leaving comments. Stay tuned for more on trail conditions later this month!

While skiers are getting excited, animals have a very different point of view about winter. Last Sunday I did some hiking around Range Pond State park (see Trails Near By Section for more info) and met a lady who told me of the 'stranded' Canadian goose. The goose which I found swimming all by itself on the pond is apparently unable to fly and has been left behind by its fellow flock who have long since gone south. I think about the goose almost every day since then. Swimming its lone course around the lake with about a month before things freeze up. Maybe it will find a kindly house on the lake to beg for food. More likely though, it will be forced off the water and have to contend with the predators that will find it land bound. I'll probably have to go back in a week or so and see how the goose is doing, but it makes you appreciate how lucky we are to play in winter and not have to struggle to survive..... the waiting continues.....

Friday, November 23, 2007

10,000 Steps Can Help You Shed Thanksgiving Guilt

Ever heard of the 10,000 step program? It's a simple exercise program that strives to get 10,000 foot steps per day. This equals about a total distance of 5 miles. You measure your progress by wearing a pedometer which tracks each step you take.

The pedometer is a great feedback device which really measures if you are the 'active'/'busy' person you really say you are. I thought I was a pretty active person when I started measuring my steps three years ago. What I found though, is that work rarely got me more than 4000 steps per day, considered sedentary and a health risk. So I found I would check my progress over the course of the day then take a 30 minute work (2000 steps) once or twice a day to increase my output. Before long I consistently got 10,000 steps a day and felt sluggish on days I missed my mark. Medical research this week, proved the value of this exercise method, showing it has significant impact on your health.

So, if you are getting up today and feeling a little bloated. Libby Hill Trails can help add some steps to your day. Here are some examples:

  • Moose Odyssey - 6,000 Steps
  • Deer Run - 1,100 Steps
  • Holmquist Hollow - 900 Steps
  • Turkey Trot - 1,100 Steps
  • Harold Libbey - 2,800 Steps
  • Outback Trail - 2,000 Steps
Shopping today on Black Friday? Consider getting a pedometer for yourself and see how much exercise you are getting rushing the sales. Think about picking up a few pedometers for your family and get them tuned into moving this winter. I'll be out on the trails this weekend adding some steps to my day, maybe I'll see you there!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trail Orientations Remind Us to be Thankful

This past Saturday we held a another trail orientation walk. The weather was cool and our turn out a little smaller (13 vs 18 last month) but everyone had a good time. One family from Auburn came with their small boys who were good sports and especially liked getting a souvenir of beaver chewed sticks. Another couple have just retired here to Gray and wanted to explore all aspects of their new town. Our small group gave us all a chance to casually stroll the trails and learn a little bit about our fellow walkers. We even got a trail volunteer to help me clear some brush this week.

Sometimes when I get to the parking lot early before the walk, I wonder how many folks will come and how valuable they will find the tour. Then close to departure time cars always show up and the walk gets started. After we get about an hour into the walk, the group always starts to relax and you start to see people really enjoying the trails and the woods around them.

For the past eight years lots of effort has gone into making this recreation site a reality and many times it seems like its future may be uncertain. However, once you see how excited people get when they discover they have a great recreation space so close to their homes it makes all the work seem worthwhile! I tell everyone on the walk that all we ask is they tell at least one other person about their experience on Libby Hill. If you are one of those who haven't discovered what Libby Hill is, please join us at a future event or call us me (Steve McPike) at 657-2114 to arrange a guided tour. Of course you can always explore on your own by downloading our trail guides or maps at our web site

So in this week of thanks, I thank the generous land owners who donated the land, the volunteers, the support of the town, and most of all the people who enjoy the trails every day!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Beavers are curious

About three times a week I hike out to the new Outback trail to continue trail clearing. Each day I pass by the beaver activity on Thayer brook. I discovered that indeed a new house has been built about 300 feet upstream from the crossing. On Monday I was able to observe a pair of beavers around the pool, cautiously watching my behavior. Later in the afternoon I came back and this time one beaver spent about 10 minutes slowly swimming around the pool watching me as I watched him.

On Tuesday, I decided to remove a few sticks the beavers had put in the waterfalls to see how fast they would fix it. So far (as of Wednesday) they haven't repaired it. They do seem to be working on downing a dozen large trees in the area, maybe they have a bigger dam in mind.

Now is a great time to visit the pool area on the Harold Libbey trail and see beavers in action! You won't be disappointed!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Bridge is Born!

Thanks to everyone for the effort in completing the bridgeon Harold Libbey Trail! Amazing what can get done with a lot of diesel power and many hands and “backs”. The last little touch needed to complete the bridges is a couple stepping stones to enter and exit, but for now it looks great.

Saturdays Helpers

Carl Holmquist - Chief Engineer and Back Breakerr
Wayne Wood and his tractor and trailer – Thank you!!!

For carrying the load - Mark Landry
sore back carpenter - Mark Norton
sore back assistant - Anne Gass
bracket specialist -Wayne Holmquist
Photographer and advisor - Anita Holmquist

Saturday Trail Clearing - (Steve has blazed and roughed out the trail across the brook an awesome accomplishment)Steve McPike – Don’t get a real job yet! Trail and Web extraordinaire
Joel McPike – Apprentice trail clearing technician – After 5 days will you become certified
John Keller – trail clearing technician

Sundays Workers

Tyler Holmquist – water engineer and screw specialist
Ryan Sullivan – medieval pick axe man and screw specialist(Some day I’ll teach these guys how to run a screw driver but they did a great job setting the screws with a hammer, rerouting the water and lugging the excess material out of the woods)

Thanks.....Carl Holmquist

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Beavers active trail engineers

Beavers continue to increase their activity on Thayer Brook. In the last five days they have attemped to drop a dozen hardwood trees at the pool area on Harold Libbey Trail. They already have created dams above and below the pool. I have been amazed at how fast they work. In the few days between my visits to this area they have done an amazing amount to tree work. The two small waterfalls in this area seem to be causing them to want to stop the sound of moving water by dropping trees near them. It is important that they not dam this section since it is the only narrow area we can cross the brook to the new Outback trail.

If you make it down to the pool examine the trees near the water and observe the teeth marks in the wood and the size of the wood chips that they carve out! We have yet to see a beaver so if you get a photo be sure to share it with us!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Open Space Supported in Referendum

Maine voters continue to support preserving open space with approval of a 35 million dollar bond for preserving open space. Gray has put high priority on open space with its Comprehensive plans but has provided little funding to achieve this goal. Luckily the Libby, Dow, and Libbey families had the vision to use land for something other than private gain. This generosity has blossomed into the Libby Hill Forest Trails.

The trails location so close to the school provide an exceptional piece of open space. Many surrounding towns are scrambling to secure open spaces that are far removed from easy access or the school systems. As land values rise, these towns often have to spend millions of dollars to secure what little open space is available to them.

So the next time you enjoy an afternoon on the trails think about how different things could have been if no one thought about preserving open space. There are still critical open spaces at risk in Gray. So when opportunities become available to preserve them, please take an active role in retaining open space in our town.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The 'Outback' Trail taking shape

The new trail is taking shape and is taking on a name. The new trail will be called the 'Outback' trail and is going to bring a new exciting trail experience to all those who explore it. Our November 1st posting gives you an overview of what is on this trail. As of yesterday, the trail blazes (yellow color) were completed and the rough trail ready for exploration.

This trail is not officially open yet but for those wanting to see it, you can find the trail head by taking the Harold Libby Trail to the 'Pool' on Thayer brook. If you look across the brook you will see two yellow trail blazes that lead into the woods. You can cross the brook at its narrowest point via large stones in the water. The trail leads into the woods and junctions after about 200 feet. You can proceed in either direction and the one mile loop will bring you back to this junction. Maps will be posted next week along with trail descriptions.

What you will notice is the trail is still in need of clearing out of some small brush. We hope to get some volunteers this Saturday to finish this process so the trail can officially open in December. Call me at 657-2114 or Carl Holmquist at 657-2173 if you can help. We will be working from 8:30 to 11:30 AM and leaving from the Middle School Parking lot.

I welcome you to start exploring this new trail and post your comments here to share with others!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

New Trail Underway

A new trail is taking shape on Libby Hill! The trail located beyond the brook off Harold Libbey Trail, takes a one mile loop through our most diverse woods. Maps, trail blazes, and full trial description will be available by winter. I thought I would give trail users a little preview now though so you can get a flavor for what is different about the new trail.

The topography of the new trail is driven by water. Thayer brook runs down the north side of the property and creates a valley between the main ridge of Libby Hill and a second ridge behind which constitutes the majority of this trail. As this ridge drains into the brook it cuts several grooves in the hill which are lined with rocks and boulders. These 'rock slides' combined with a burgeoning beaver population around the brook makes trail design a challenge. Luckily wide variations in elevations allows for some interesting trail features. Some of the features that are in this area are:

  • Three beaver dams to explore
  • Views of the back ridge line of Libby Hill
  • Great high viewing areas for wildlife, especially deer and moose
  • Lots of great rocks to climb
  • Exceptional old hemlocks
This trail will be for hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking and while not officially open you can find the trail flags off the pool area of the Harold Libbey Trail. We plan on trail clean up for this trail in November so if you would like to help, please contact Carl Holmquist at 657-2173 or Steve McPike (me) at 657-2114.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to the trail blog of Libby Hill Trails! We are adding this feature to our website ( to provide our trail users with more features and two way communication. This blog will appear as a frame section in our website and provide these new features:

  • Comment ability on trail articles
  • A trail usage survey (Please vote)
  • News feeds on Trail News in Maine
  • A link to our web photo album where you can post photos
  • Snow and trail groomer reports (starting winter 2008)
Let us know you are out there and what you are doing on the trails!

What to you like to do on Libby Hill?

One of the advantages of the blog format on our website is that you can provide your ideas and feedback. Libby Hill hosts lots of different recreational and educational activities and we would like to know what trail users like to do and what they might want in the future. Please leave comments with your ideas or send us photos of the trails!

Dogs and Libby Hill

Trail users enjoying dog walking is a very popular activity on the trails. Dogs recently were banned from Pineland trails and dog owners are seeking new areas to take their dogs, so Libby Hill is a popular new destination. We do recommend that you leash your pet in areas where other trail users are present, especially near the school. With lots of wildlife and many trail junctions dogs often run off from owners so make sure you have good control of your pet. Once on the trails though your dog will have a great time!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall is a great time to be on the trails

An unbelievable warm day hitting 81 degrees today! All trails are showing glimpses of late color especially the orange of sugar maples and yellow of striped maples. Junco birds are fluttering through the undergrowth and squirrels are grabbing the abundant crop of acorns. Moose signs have been seen off Harold Libbey Trail near the brook. Deer continue to be present near the cell tower, up to four have been seen running south from the trails when you come over the rise.