Kids can be finicky creatures. Sometimes they are excited to go hiking, sometimes they are adamantly opposed to the idea, and sometimes they just don’t care one way or the other. Which kid is going to choose which attitude is always changing. The one thing I’ve learned in all my year’s of taking kids hiking is that, even though they may be adamantly opposed, they usually enjoy themselves once they get on the trail. And sometimes the most opposed kid have the most fun.
We picked two of the kids up at the Irving in Salisbury last Monday on the way back from their grandparent’s house. If the rain held off we were planning to go find the Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail near Elgin. My first encounter with the trail was a few years prior on our way from Sussex to Salisbury. At the Petitcodiac exit I noticed a hiking sign. My obsession made me want to find the trail to go with the sign. We exited to see if we could find it and after a few minutes of driving towards Elgin turned back. The search would have to wait for another day.
Once we were home I found out the trail that went with the sign was the Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail. I put it on my to-do list. Last Monday we found the time to continue the search. On our way there the kids were neutral about going hiking. After a small search we pulled into the small gravel pit that serves as a parking lot for they trail. The kids were starting to get excited about getting outside. It had been a long winter and this would be their first real chance at getting out on a hike. We got our boots on and packed our bags and then hit the trail.
The trail started to climb a grassy old woods road. The trail then turned to the right and climbed a hill away from the road. At the top we passed through a small area that was harvested. There was a small grove of spruce trees near the trail that was left. When we got closer we could see that the trees that were left were very bumpy with burls. The kids had fun naming the trees. Names like the Lumpy Space Princess (Adventureland character if you don’t know) and the Pot Belly Tree. A small mountain was visible across the cut and I was hoping that we would get to climb it.
We continued on the trail through some old grown in fields and eventually came to a trail junction. It looked as though we might get to climb the small mountain after all. We turned right at the junction and climbed over a small rock wall. We soon came to a steep sided ravine that held a small stream. A small set of stairs took us down into the ravine and a bridge crossed the stream further up. The trail made a short climb on the other side. We followed the trail around a loop of the peak of the small mountain, through a forest with large spruce trees.
When we were almost back to the ravine on the loop we heard something in the bushes to the left of the trail. We soon realized it was a porcupine climbing a small tree. My wife and I were competing for best photo when our daughter stood back and said she felt bad because we were scaring it. Point taken we continued on our way back down through the ravine and back to the main trail junction.
We traveled through some mixedwood forest with large Hemlocks. The trail was gradually climbing a climbing a hill. We eventually came to a small side trail near a ledge made of a rock pile. The side trail lead down over a hill to a lookout platform. The lookout platform overlooked a small stream with a small waterfall and was overhanged with a large rocky outcrop. The platform was surrounded by large hardwood trees.
After the platform the trail meandered through more old softwood forest and returned to cross the stream we were just viewing. After climbing through a hardwood stand the trail finally turned back in the direction the car was parked. There were some interesting signs about flying squirrels and a manganese mine that used to be on site. I was impressed by my daughter’s knowledge of tree species until I realized she was covering up the small labels on the trees that told the species.
The kids were starting to get bored so they made up a game where they picked a word and the last person to say that word won. The word’s started out as tree species but then evolved into more generic words like “a”, “and”, or “the”. The kids would attempt to get us to say the word but would usually end up saying it themselves in the process. It made me happy to see the kids having fun. It made me more happy that they are having fun outdoors without electronics. It made me ecstatic when that we were having fun in the outdoors, without electronics and as a family. That’s a bit more of the magic of hiking that I described in my last blog post The Magic of the Maliseet Trail.
The kids eventually became bored with the game but just in time to come out into a field. There were once again views of Gowland Mountain across the field so we knew we were getting close to the car. When we got back to the car it was starting to rain. Perfect timing. The Mapleton Acadian Forest Trail had lots to keep the kids interested and it was a perfect distance for their attention spans. My wife and I had a great time too.