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Biking Around Bangor: Hampden Out and Back

04/09/2014
The Mystic Lodge is a great place to stop in the center of Hampden

The Mystic Lodge is a great place to stop in the center of Hampden

It’s still too cold and wet to break out the bike shorts…so let’s go for a virtual ride!

Over the last year, I’ve charted five great bike routes through the scenic outskirts of the Bangor metro area. All of these 90-minute rides feature beautiful destinations, challenging hills, relatively safe travel and a special something that can only be described as a “unique Maine charm.”

Saddle up, Mark in Maine readers, and enjoy the fall colors on this two-wheel mini-tour… without breaking a sweat:

HAMPDEN OUT AND BACK

Historic Hampden is the closest thing Bangor has to a suburb, it’s got a big box grocery store, a handful of subdivisions and three stop lights. It also has some serious hills.

This 13.7 mile ride starts with a couple of nice, long straight shots through two quiet Bangor neighborhoods. We hit the busy Highway 1A near the Hollywood Casino in the heart of the Bangor entertainment district and turn southwest for Hampden.

The route races under a freeway overpass, bounces through an industrial area and takes a sharp zig-zag under a little used railroad bridge, before it veers off 1A onto the “Old County Road.” I like this road. It’s got three short but steep climbs, a dairy farm view and not much traffic. The route hooks up again to 1A where it plunges into the Souadabscook  Stream valley, crosses a bridge and hits you in the face with a massive hill into Hampden.

Once, while plodding up the hill, a teenager walking on the opposite shoulder yelled at me to watch a specific bike video on YouTube. “You’ll like it, ” he said.

I like Hampden’s history.

The British invaded the tiny Penobscot River town in an 1814 skirmish, it’s the hometown of Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president Hannibal Hamlin and the high school where Stephen King first taught English. You ride by sites connected to all three on the Hampden Out and Back.

I always stop at the great white Mystic Lodge, which looms over the center of town like a ghostly glacier. It’s a good place for a breather, a drink of water and a turnaround.

The only route diversion on the return trip is to bypass the Old Country Road for a straight ahead run down 1A into Bangor. Part of the road has a new, wide shoulders and a steep drop that lets you open up the turbo jets.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

The rolling hills between Bangor and Hampden

The rolling hills between Bangor and Hampden on the Old County Road.

The site of former Vice President Hannibal Hamlin's home is now a Dunkin Donuts.

The site of former Vice President Hannibal Hamlin’s home is now a Dunkin Donuts.

One of three stop lights in Hampden.

One of three stop lights in Hampden.

I'm not sure what the do at the Mystic Lodge. I'm not sure I want to know.

I’m not sure what they do at the Mystic Lodge. I’m not sure I want to know.

This headstone honors the British soldiers killed in action during the Battle of Hampden in 1814

A cemetery behind the Mystic Lodge includes a headstone honoring the British soldiers killed in action during the Battle of Hampden in 1814

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One Comment
  1. You always have an eye for detail, Mark! Cool info, and what pleasant-looking ride.

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