Originally published in Seasonal Guide, January 2, 2014
Hiking and walking trails
Sometimes it’s easy to let winter get the best of the motivation to move and to explore the outdoors. It’s cold, the mind says. Let’s just stay here on the cozy couch.
Our area’s wealth of beauty and outdoor activity is not limited to the summer months, so getting off the couch and out the door is one way to beat the winter weight gain and maybe even help combat the winter blues or “cabin fever” that occurs from spending too much time outdoors. The many trails maintained by area land trusts and other conservation groups are open year-round, though access is variable depending on the severity of winter weather.
If snow is light or nonexistent on the ground, any trail will be accessible. The trails listed here have trailheads that are plowed out or are particularly worth visiting.
One of these, according to Blue Hill Heritage Trust membership coordinator Eileen Mielenhausen, is the newly opened 100-acre wood in Brooklin.
“It’s a great area for snowshoeing and cross country because it’s relatively flat,” she said.
BHHT will be hosting a snowshoeing event at some point this winter, Mielenhausen continued.
Mike Little, the executive director for Island Heritage Trust, said the fields at Scott’s Landing are good for cross-country skiing after a hike through the initial woods. Places such as the Settlement Quarry and Shore Acres are recommended for snowshoeing.
All of the trails managed by IHT and BHHT are open in the winter, though the trails themselves are ungroomed. Witherle Woods, managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, is also open for winter use, and Holbrook Island Sanctuary on Cape Rosier in Brooksville maintains some parking areas for winter trail use.
Some trails are suitable for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, others are too rough and variable and are not suitable. For questions about specific trails, contact the conservation organization that maintains the trail to find out if a particular activity is suited to a trail.
No ATVs or snowmobiles are allowed on the trails, through there are ATV and snowmobile trails available in some of the area towns. Be sure to check with local enthusiasts to find out where, and to follow all laws and respect property owners’ wishes about ATV and snowmobile traffic. A resource for those interested in motorized snow play is mesnow.com, a site maintained by the Maine Snowmobile Association, for trails on or near the Blue Hill Peninsula.
There are a few health concerns to take seriously during the winter months when hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. First, snow may obscure loose rocks and unstable trail conditions. Second, cold weather means a potential for frostbite, hypothermia or other cold-related illness. For safety tips on how to dress for cold weather (as well as tips on ice safety), visit maine.gov/ifw/warden_service/safety.
For a full list of area trails, visit our website at penobscotbaypress.com/visitors.
Dogs whose owners clean up after them are welcome (on a leash!) on those trails marked with a ¢ symbol.
^ Denotes trail maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, bluehillheritagetrust.org.
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. The first parking area on the right serves the Osgood trail. The larger parking lot at the top of the hill serves the Hayes trail and Tower Service trail and is plowed during the winter. 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.
The Becton trail is a newly opened easy-to-moderate 2-mile hike that travels through softwood forest, dominated by large spruce and pine, before ascending the northwest slope of the mountain and intersecting with the Osgood Trail near the summit. Watch for views to the north of Toddy Pond and Great Pond Mountain as the trail nears the summit.
To visit Becton trail, take the Mountain Road and go .7 mile to Turkey Farm Rd. Turn left onto Turkey Farm Rd. and go .6 mile to the Becton trailhead, parking lot and trail on left. ¢
^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). It is not plowed, but can be accessible depending on severity of snow conditions. ¢
^A.B. 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. This trail crosses privately owned land, protected by conservation easements. Public access is made possible by the generosity of the landowner. Please stay on marked trails. Parking and plowing not guaranteed in winter. ¢
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. Trails may be used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Sedgwick and Brooklin
^Snow’s Cove Preserve trail, just down the hill from the Sedgwick Elementary School, 500 ft. north of the school entrance on Rte. 15. Parking area, 1.5 miles of trail including loop along Bagaduce River, horseshoe crab shells can be found. Access may be limited during periods of high snow. ¢
^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. ¢
^Hundred-Acre Wood Trail, High St. in Brooklin. Take South St. in Blue Hill (Rte. 175/172) for six miles, turn left onto Hales Hill Rd., drive .7 miles to 4-way intersection and drive straight onto High St. Park on side of road. The trail goes through varied woodland and ledge outcroppings, providing diverse wildlife habitat. This 1.7 mile trail is good for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. ¢
Deer Isle and Stonington
*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. The parking lot is plowed.
*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. A view of Isle au Haut, Merchant’s Row and Webb Cove is visible from the top of the quarry. The road to and parking lot for Settlement Quarry is plowed. ¢
*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, which is plowed in winter. Moderate, 1.5 mile loop, uneven terrain through woods and along shore. Spectacular views of Greenlaw Cove and Campbell Island. ¢
Isle au Haut
Accessible via the mail-boat ferry, departing from the bottom of Seabreeze Ave. in Stonington. Check isleauhaut.com for the winter schedule. There is no ferry service to Duck Harbor in winter.
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. The park roads are not plowed in winter and close from December through March. The town roads are maintained all winter.