Just when I was bemoaning the lack of opportunity to do pull-ups (or the half-pull-up, leg kicking, loud grunting variant I choose to engage in) on many of Maine’s hiking trails, I discover Beaver Park in Lisbon.
This family-focused park off Cotton Road has seven miles of easy-going trails, as well as two regulation softball diamonds, picnic areas, and swimming ponds. But the neatest thing at Beaver Park, in my pull-up-fantasizing opinion, is the one-mile fitness trail, complete with 70s-era workout stations.
I say 70s-era because the whole workout station concept (the wood planks propped at an incline for sit-ups, the metal pole jutting from a post for leg lifts, the shin-high metal pole hovering over the ground for…I’m not sure what. Push-ups?) came into popularity in the 70s (thanks, Swiss architect Erwin Weckemann). Beaver Park was established in 1983 (according to the trail map I picked up at the park’s entrance), but these workout stations still found their way in. And boy, am I glad for that.
The fitness trail and workout stations are accessible from the park road, and I happened upon them as I was looking for a place to park.
I’m not sure I started at the proper start, which became clear as I followed the trail and came upon MORE workout stations, but I suppose it doesn’t matter. I was just delighted to find monkey bars!
The first set of stations was situated just off Park Road and across from a parking area. There are also bathrooms here, complete with a two-seater toilet (I’m still trying to figure that one out).
I spotted the monkey bars first, but there are also stations for push-ups and sit-ups. And while I didn’t follow any sort of organized routine here, I did play on EVERYTHING. And by “play” I mean actual exercise!
Adjacent to the stations is the fitness trail, which consists of two semi-circle trails, one inside the other. See here:
After working my abs and upper body a bit, I took to the trail. It’s mostly flat and wide, covered in pine needles, with a few roots sticking up, but definitely a good running trail where you don’t have to fret over loads of roots and rocks and other things that like to trip us.
Along the way, I came upon one of the ponds. Folks swim in the ponds on hot days, and I nearly got in fully dressed when I was there. It would certainly be a welcoming way to cool down after a hike or 70s-era workout session!
After hiking for about a half-mile, I came across even more workout stations. These were mostly geared toward pre- and post-workout stretching (which led me to believe I’d started in the wrong place). I chuckled over how elaborate some of the stations were – wood and metal contraptions designed to stretch your quads or calves. Can’t I just do a runner’s stretch or stretch my calves with the help of a big rock? Yes, I can. But these are way more entertaining.
This is also where I saw the board featuring the whole course, all the exercise stations, and the point system you can use if you’re feeling competitive (points based on fitness level, from beginner to competitive athlete, and what grade you’re in at school…which means maybe I’m too old for this? Nah).
After stretching all the things, I got back on the trail.
And, you guessed it, came upon more stations. This time, I found what I’d been looking for all along: The pull-up station!
Except this station didn’t come with one of those bands or a human being to help you get up there. So I just struggled and flailed my legs and grunted.
These stations really were a ton of fun, and I wished I lived closer to Lisbon so I could do this course more often. Would the novelty wear off on the fifth, 10th, 50th visit? Maybe. But I’d be so ripped by then!
The fitness trail eventually led me back to where I started (monkey bars, two-seater toilet). It took me a long time to only go one mile. But I felt invigorated! Strong! Worked out! And dirty and sweaty.
No one else was swimming, but there were folks chasing tadpoles. I suspect these ponds see plenty of swimmers in the summer. And maybe some post-pull-up, out-of-school, happy hiking athletes, too.