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A breath of fresh air: getting outside in and around Orono

While Gov. Janet Mills issued an order for Mainers to stay at home beginning Thursday, April 2, she did include an exception: getting outside for some much needed fresh air or exercise. With many parks and beaches closed, not to mention gyms being way out of the question, the University of Maine community is left with the opportunity to get creative in terms of getting a workout in, or simply getting outside. Here are a few options within reach of Orono for both.

The UMaine paved bike trails

Beginning by the tennis courts, the main trail goes straight through the woods in the direction of Stillwater Avenue in Old Town. It’s fairly flat and is perfect for windy days, as the trees provide some shelter from the wind and shade for hot, sunny days (though we aren’t quite there yet here in Orono). If you continue straight, you’ll eventually come to the end of the path, ending on campus approximately a mile and a half in. Here, you’ll find a T-intersection with a new path that runs parallel to Stillwater Ave. Whether you take a right or a left, and if you decide to complete this full perpendicular section of the path and return to the main trail that heads back to campus, once you return to the tennis courts again you’ll have done exactly 5.35 miles. Not bad for a run, a walk, a bike ride and if you know how to, it’s just about perfect for inline skating. You’ll likely see some deer along the way as well.

The track and football bleachers

An obvious choice for exercise, the track is a great place to get out and do some sprints or a full-on workout. The turf in the middle provides cushioning for anything that requires jumping, lunges, abdominal work and anything of the sort, but it’s also just a great place to get out and be social while social distancing. It’s a great place to be on a beautiful spring day. And, rumor has it, a turf is one of the best places to get a tan!


If you’re looking for a track workout specifically, here’s one that’s guaranteed to leave you pretty beat: start with a warm-up slow mile (take your time with this — it’s the last time you’ll be able to breathe for a little). After that, run as fast as you can while keeping a consistent pace for one full lap. Upon completion, immediately continue onto another lap, but this time at a jogging pace. Continue at this pace until you have completed the jogging lap and then run half a lap as fast as you can. At the end of that, complete that lap at a jogging pace. That’s one “set,” and you can repeat it as many times as you wish… or can! The workout looks like this: 400m run, 400m jog, 200m run, 200m jog, repeat.

Penobscot River Walkway

On both the Bangor and the Brewer side, the Penobscot River has a relatively new paved path called the Penobscot River Walkway. Though short, just a half a mile long on each side, the walkway is a beautiful place to spend some time, whether walking the full loop, which will bring you over both bridges in downtown Bangor, part of it or just sitting on the grass near the path on the Bangor side. For those of us who have been spending most of our time in Orono, it’s a great way to get a little change of scenery without going far. It’s also a perfect place to take your dog for a walk.

Stillwater River Trail

This trail begins just past downtown Orono if you are going towards campus, right before crossing the bridge and ending up by the University Inn. It runs parallel to the river and nearly parallel to Bennoch Road, ending just before the Stillwater Avenue bridge. The trail is perfect for biking, walking and running – especially if you’re not interested in running hills. It’s a beautiful path, flat with a view of the river, and it’ll really make you appreciate the beauty of our little college town.

Chick Hill

This is a particularly easy-going hike up to the top of the Clifton, ME “hill,” as there’s a gravel path that brings you all the way up. So if you’re looking to get some beautiful views without breaking too much of a sweat, this is your place. The trail is technically called “Fire Road 32” on Google Maps, and it’s about 1.3 miles long in total, making it a very feasible hike for most. The views at the top of the hill are some of the best around, so although it’s a bit of a distance from Orono (about a 40-minute drive), it’s worth it.


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