Originally published in Seasonal Guide, April 12, 2012
Hiking and Walking Trails for spring
There are few better ways to truly appreciate the unfolding beauty of spring than on foot, exploring the many public trails to be found. While most are a few hours’ hike or less, it would be easy to plan a day of several short hikes. Take your binoculars with you to enjoy the birds and wildlife of spring. Be cautious of trails along streams and in marshes during the “mud season.”
Don’t forget the staples for spending time in the Maine outdoors: sunscreen, water and insect repellent once blackfly season begins.
Dogs whose owners clean up after them are welcome (on a leash!) on those trails marked with a u symbol.
^Denotes trail maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, bluehillheritagetrust.org.
*Denotes trail maintained by Island Heritage Trust, islandheritagetrust.org.
^Patten Stream. Located at the end of Warren Ln. (off Rte. 172). A trail begins at the small gravel pit at the end of the dirt road. The 0.6 mile loop winds close to Patten Stream and is graced by wildflowers and song birds. u
Osgood Lot walking trail. From Rte. 172 toward Ellsworth, turn left on North Bend Rd. Travel 0.25 miles to the town hall and park; look for sign behind town hall marking the start of the 1-mile loop through woods; easy/moderate, some uneven terrain.
^Talalay Nature Sanctuary, On the Cross Rd. Trail head the same as for the Furth Wildlife Sanctuary. 0.5 miles from the road, bear left at the trail intersection to head around a 1-mile loop that winds through mossy, old growth forest and white cedar swamp. This trail is full of excellent bird habitat; bring your binoculars. u
^Furth Wildlife Sanctuary, On the Cross Rd. Park on the side of the road. This 1-mile trail forms a lollipop loop that crosses through active beaver habitat and young forest. Several small bridges, dips and curves in the trail and the mossy forest make this trail fun for children. Also look for an intersection 0.5 miles from the road where the trail to the Talalay Nature Sanctuary begins. u
^Carter Nature Preserve, shore access. From Blue Hill, take scenic route along Rte. 176/Morgan Bay Rd. to Cross Rd. Parking is near the Cross Rd. bridge. Moderate, 0.7 miles, excellent for all ages and provides access to a rocky beach, tide pools and quiet secluded forest. u
Sherm Perkins Park. Rte. 175/199 in Penobscot village, just west of Bayview Take-out & Market. Grab a sandwich there and enjoy it in this 1-acre park on the shore of Northern Bay. Wild flowers; bird-watching. Please take your trash with you.
Virginia Weinland Nature Study Area, south side of Rte. 175/Gray Ridge Rd. in South Penobscot, 1 mile south of intersection of Rtes. 175 and 177. Loop trail is 1.5 miles through 32 acres of mixed woodlands, brook, wetlands, granite outcroppings.
Rene Henderson Natural Area, East side of Rte. 166A, 0.7 mile north of southern intersection with Rte. 166. Ninety acres including pond, wetlands, mixed woodlands; 1-mile loop, moderate; waterproof hiking boots recommended.
Frank Wiswall Natural Area and Dunc’s Meadow. Rte. 166, 0.5 mile north of intersection of Rte. 199. 30 acres, beaver dam and lodge in Dunc’s Meadow pond.
Starr and Virginia Lampson Preserve, Rte. 199, just before the intersection with Rte. 166. One-mile trail, views of Bagaduce River, woods, fields, shore access; easy.
Hatch Cove Preserve, Fields, both sides of Rte. 166 just north of the British Canal before reaching Castine village. Rolling fields to Hatch Cove, easy; high rating in Maine’s Penobscot Bay Scenic Inventory.
Witherle Woods Preserve, Rte. 166 from Penobscot, right on Battle Ave. to near end of road. 132 acres of old-growth woods, beginner to moderate. Trails first used as artillery roads by the British during the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812.
^Blue Hill Mountain. In Blue Hill, take Rte. 15 north to Mountain Rd. Follow Mountain Rd. to top of the hill and park. The mountain is 934 feet high and provides views of the surrounding area, from the Camden Hills to Acadia National Park. Two trails start on the Mountain Rd. and end at the summit. The Osgood Trail (0.9 miles), on Blue Hill Heritage Trust property, provides a more leisurely hike up through the forest. The Hayes Trail (0.7 miles) starts in the large field owned by the Town of Blue Hill and heads up a steep rock staircase. The least steep but longest path up the mountain is the radio tower access road (0.7 miles) which departs from the Hayes trail at the top of the field. See feature story in this guide. u
^Kingdom Woods Conservation Area. 878 acres of protected wetland and forest and provides access to undeveloped Fourth Pond. The main trail head is 1 mile from Rte. 177 on the south side of the Kingdom Rd. A half mile further down the Kingdom Rd. a second parking area marks the start of a family-friendly, flat nature trail loop (0.5 mile). Seasonal activities include blueberry picking and hunting (with permission). u
^Post Office trail. This trail is on private property but a public right of way is maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust. It starts at the back of the Blue Hill Post Office parking lot (look for stone steps) and goes behind the large EBS storage building. From there this lovely 0.5-mile trail crosses through an old apple orchard and into a cool, damp, old forest. The public trail right of way ends 0.5 miles from the starting point, though an old wood road continues across private property north to the Mountain Rd. (and ultimately to the top of Blue Hill mountain). u
^South Street to Parker Point Road trail. This trail is on private property but a public right of way is maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust. Start at the water fountain parking lot on Parker Point Rd., Blue Hill. The 0.5 mile trail heads uphill to South St., ending just to the south of the Mainescape Store. u
^Herrick Memorial Landing and Peters Brook trail. Peter’s Cove and Peter’s Brook Trail, Rte. 172 to East Blue Hill Rd., then 0.6 mile; parking on roadside. Shore access, picnicking. u
Maude and Eugene Snow Natural Area, Head south on Rte. 175/176 from North Brooksville, turn right at stop sign on Rte. 176; go 0.25 mile then turn right onto Young’s Point Rd. When road forks, bear right; parking is on the right. Forty acres, 2,550 feet of shorefront on the Bagaduce River and 2.25 miles of trails; moderate. Likely to see seals and eagles.
Ferry Landing Natural Area, From North Brooksville, west on Rte. 176, 3 miles to West Brooksville, turn right on Ferry Rd. 23 acres of fields and woods on Bagaduce River across from North Castine, 650 feet of shore frontage, 1 mile round-trip, moderate, some steep. Kayak and canoe launch for the river and Penobscot Bay.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary, from Blue Hill, Rte. 15 to Rte. 175, then left on Rte. 176; follow brown signs. System of 9 trails on both sides of Falls Rd., 0.7 to 2 miles, from beginner to strenuous, encompassing beach, mud flats, rocky coast, mixed woodlands, wetlands, meadows; abundant wildlife. Trail maps are available in the park, just look around.
^John B. Mountain, Off Breezemere Road in Brooksville, located 0.8 miles from Rte. 176. A 1.2 mile trail begins at a small parking lot (more parking .25 miles north). A 0.75 mile loop brings you to the top of this short mountain (250 ft) where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Eggemoggin Reach, Blue Hill Mountain and the Camden Hills. u
Sedgwick and Brooklin
Rocky Ridge fitness trail, At elementary school on Rte. 15. Graveled and graded trail includes 10 to 12 fitness stations in woods; 0.75 mile. Check in at school office when school is in session.
^Cooper Farm trail, off Rte. 15, Caterpillar Hill. Take Cooper Farm Rd. to small parking lot on right. One-mile loop through woods and blueberry barrens, two cut-off trails; moderate with some uneven terrain; moderate uphill climb. Bog bridges and mossy trails. (You can pick blueberries here in season). u
Salt Pond access trail, Take Rte. 15 south from Blue Hill village, turn left at blinking light onto Rte. 172, travel 10 miles to Hales Hill Rd. on left; 0.1 mile down Hales Hill Rd; park on road shoulder. Walk 500 feet across an open field to the pond, called “salt” because it is tidal. u
Deer Isle and Stonington
*Pine Hill, Little Deer Isle. After you come over the bridge onto the Island, turn right at information center, then left at Blastow Cove Rd., continue 0.2 miles to parking area on right. Strenuous and steep, but a wonderful view of Eggemoggin Reach and the causeway.
*Bowcat Overlook, Little Deer Isle. Just before the causeway, as you come on the Island. One-acre shore parcel, with access to Carney Island and with plaque highlighting connection between this point and Robert McCloskey’s book Time of Wonder.
*Scott’s Landing, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 just after the causeway, across from Causeway Beach. Twenty acres of fields, scenic vistas and shorefront, easy trails.
*Shore Acres Preserve, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 to Sunshine Rd. south of Deer Isle village; travel Sunshine Rd. for 1.2 miles, bear left onto Greenlaw District Rd., then 0.9 mile to parking area. Moderate, 1.5 mile loop, uneven terrain through woods and along shore. Spectacular views of Greenlaw Cove and Campbell Island. u
Mariners Memorial Park, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 to Sunshine Road south of Deer Isle village, then turn right off Sunshine Rd. at Morey Farm Rd., follow signs. Easy, 0.5 mile. Shore access; kayak/canoe launch; picnic area. u
*Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 to Sunshine Rd. near Deer Isle village, 2.5 miles to Tennis Rd. on right. Easy to moderate with some uneven terrain; 3 miles of trails. Shore access; historic cemetery, wildlife including ospreys, eagles and occasional seals on Toothacher Ledge. u
Holt Mill Pond Preserve, Rte. 15 to Airport Rd. in Stonington, access road just west of medical center. Easy, 0.5 mile. Salt marsh and estuarine habitats. Self-guided nature trail. u
*Barred Island Preserve, Sunset. Rte. 15A from Deer Isle village, turn right on Goose Cove Road, follow signs. Moderate, 2 miles round-trip, steep trail to beach; access to Barred Island and large beach at low tide. Panoramic views of Isle au Haut and Mark Island.
Crockett Cove Woods, Stonington. Rte. 15A from Deer Isle village, continue to 3 miles beyond Sunset Post Office, turn right onto Whitman Rd., then right onto Fire Rd. 88 to trailhead. Easy/moderate, 2 miles round-trip; self-guided nature trail in spruce forest and bog.
*Settlement Quarry, Stonington. Rte. 15 to Oceanville Rd., then 0.9 mile on the right. Short trails and old quarry roads through former granite quarry, 2 miles total. Informational signs describe granite quarrying and geology of area. u
Isle au Haut
Isle au Haut, French for “High Island” and named by navigator Samuel Champlain in 1604, offers its own bounty of natural treasures. Half of the island is part of Acadia National Park.
Accessible via mailboat ferry, departing from the bottom of Seabreeze Ave. in Stonington. During the summer months, five boats run daily to the island; isleauhaut.com.
Bicycle rentals are available to visitors (from the mailboat company). Bicycles are not allowed on hiking trails, but there are 5 miles of paved road and 7 miles of unpaved road for biking. There is an inn for overnight stays on the east side of the island. There are few services on Isle au Haut, which has a year-round population of about 45 people. The mailboat Web site recommends bringing water and food, sunscreen and a hat, sturdy footwear, and layers of clothing—it is usually a few degrees cooler on Isle au Haut than in Stonington.
That said, the general store is well-stocked, the town hall has Wi-Fi access, there is a gift shop and also a café specializing in handcrafted chocolates made with fresh local ingredients.
Isle au Haut/Acadia National Park trail system, 18 miles of trails, 0.2 to 3.8 miles, easy to strenuous. Be sure to stay on public land. Interior trails are quiet, and travel through forest, marshes, bogs, mountain summits, and a freshwater lake. Rocky coastal trails offer views of 100-foot cliffs. Must have advance reservation to camp on the island (see isleauhaut.com), and you must carry out any trash.