Marine Park, Waldoboro

I couldn’t resist including this walk because it’s so scenic, although the trails I found were really short! I think the 20-acre marine park is probably mostly used as a boat launch. One trail I found was a bit overgrown, but the little one that goes to the edge of the point is pretty.

Here’s a bit of info about the park, and about some other parks in Waldoboro.

Directions:  The Marine Park is 6.5 miles south of Route 1 near the lower end of Dutch Neck Road.

Nature Trail, West Gardiner

This is a wooded trail system that has the imprint of the schoolchildren who attend the school across the way. This always makes for sweet walks, I think! Anyway, there’s a little over 2 miles in the trail network here, as well as a couple places to sit under shelter (Cat Camp and a little lean-to at the trailhead). Camp Dirt was mostly just a clearing when we visited in the spring of 2017. It can be a bit wet in here, and also a little confusing where the ATV trails intersect the walking paths. More info here.

Directions: From Gardiner, take High Street/Highland Avenue 5.3 miles. Turn left onto Spears Corner Road. The trail begins on the right side of the road 0.2 miles down, a bit beyond the West Gardiner Town Office, across from Helen Thompson School. A large sign marking the trailhead is visible from the road. There is room to park along side the road.

Town Forest, Waldoboro

The 63.5-acre town forest contains a seven-acre grove of old hemlock trees, some of them dating back to the early 1800s, if not earlier! The feel of this forest, and other old-growth woods, is not to be missed; they are open, dark, cool, and soothing. I find it a bit sad that old-growth forests in Maine are uncommon, but I suppose we must appreciate these forest stands when we find them. This particular grove is close to the trailhead, so you don’t have to walk far to experience it.

The town has marked a 1.5-mile loop with blue blazes in the woods. There are other tracks crisscrossing this loop. I didn’t explore them. The forest was quite wet when I visited in early June 2017.

I find this info about the forest, and other Waldoboro parks.

Directions: You can see a couple of signs for the Town Forest from Route 1 (a new one and an old one). Turn off Route 1 onto West Main Street, and then almost immediately turn into the large parking lot. The trail starts at the western end of the lot.

Kennebec River Rail Trail, in Gardiner, Hallowell, Augusta, and Farmingdale

Blue trail is the Kennebec Rail Trail; the short green trail on the other side of the river is the Greenway Trail.

This is a really great rails-to-trails project — it’s beautiful, and much of it is quiet and pastoral-feeling despite being in a fairly commercial area and near a busy road. It’s a splendid paved walk, almost 7 miles in total between Gardiner and Augusta. Throughout you have views of the wide Kennebec River. It is also popular with joggers, dog walkers, and parents with strollers, although it rarely feels crowded. If you would like to do the whole thing, you can stop in Hallowell—a red-brick old town—for a snack or coffee. There is also a playground at the YMCA if you want to give kids a break to swing. Gardiner has a lovely downtown as well, for those who are not familiar with it.

In addition, you can cross the Bridge Street bridge, at the north end of the trail, and walk down the unpaved but still wheelchair accessible Augusta Greenway Trail. This portion is roughly 1 mile long. It passes a historic fort and an old arsenal, and is scenic and more pastoral than the other side.

If you don’t have time to do the whole thing, I particularly enjoyed the trail section between Hallowell and Farmingdale.

Note: for those biking or walking with kids, this trail is absolutely great. The small section in-town in Hallowell, however, can be a bit harrowing because of the traffic. It’s possible to ride or walk behind the buildings on the river side of Hallowell, on a private dirt driveway, or go off the main road onto one of the side roads that run parallel to the river. And it is wheelchair accessible, of course. 

Distances: From the end in Augusta to Hallowell, it’s about 2.4 miles. The section through town is a little over half a mile. From the trail start in Hallowell to Gardiner, it’s about 4.2 miles.

Directions: From the traffic circle in Augusta, take the exit for US 201/Western Ave./SR 17. Then turn left on Swan, right on Grove, then another right into the Maine State Housing Authority parking lot. To reach the second access point, turn onto Union Street just south of Capitol Park and turn right into the parking lots for the ball fields at Capital Park, near the YMCA. In Hallowell, park along Water Street/US 201 near Front Street. In Gardiner, park at the trailhead where Church Street and Maine Avenue meet.

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Chase Reserve, Brunswick

(East Freeport trails in blue, Calderwood Preserve in light green, and Chase Reserve in green)

This 194-acre preserve links up to the extensive East Freeport trail system, allowing you to take a long walk of nine miles or so, if you are so inclined. At the pond, you can connect to the East Freeport trails, or you can return via an old woods trail called Litchfield Trail. More info at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.

Directions: The parking lot is right at the Brunswick/Freeport town line on Bunganuc Road. If you’re coming from the Brunswick side, the trailhead is .4 miles from the Highland Road intersection.

Green Point Wildlife Management Area, Dresden

This is an idyllic walk in many ways — it’s easy, charming, and includes an old orchard, small ponds, meadows, and views over the Kennebec River. It’s very popular with birders. As far I could tell when I visited in the spring of 2017, the best place to walk is along an old road which wanders down to an outlook over the river, about .6 miles from the start. There’s two benches and a picnic table here. And I think it must be possible to go swimming?

There is also a slightly fainter old road that veers off to the right, taking you to a large meadow. There might be more trails in this preserve but on the day I went, people were out training their hunting dogs in the field so I didn’t dare explore over there!

Natural Resources Council of Maine has more info.

Directions: From Route 197 in Dresden, turn onto Route 128 (or the River Road) in Dresden. The management area is about two miles south of the intersection with Rte. 197. There is a large sight for the area and a big parking lot on the right. You can also drive 50-100 more feet or so and park at a little gravel lot in front of the gated road. This is the road to the picnic area.

Crocker Hill, Paris

I think this must be mostly hiked by well-informed locals, and I couldn’t find any map online. The first part of this fairly easy hike starts on an old road or snowmobile trail that makes a couple of switchbacks up to a ridge where you’ll see a view and a fire pit. Look for a narrow walking trail on your right marked by a cairn. Follow the cairns and path to the summit. Make sure you continue a little bit beyond the summit for some great views over the back of the hill and a delightful bench carved into a downed tree.

I wouldn’t have known how to make a loop here if I hadn’t run into a nice gentleman at the trailhead who gave me instructions. Once you’ve summited the hill and returned to the snowmobile trail, continue on walking. You’ll keep climbing for a ways, and when there is an obvious intersection, go left. Take another obvious left a little while later. You’ll pass some old wells and come out on Thayer Road.

If you do the loop, the total distance is about 2.2 miles.

Directions: From Paris Hill, turn onto Mt. Mica Road. Follow 1.1 miles to the dirt road, Thayer Road, and drive .7 miles to trailhead. You’ll see a gate and possibly a Crocker Tree Farm sign.

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Shepard Farm’s Preserve and Witt Swamp, Norway

If there was a competition for best trail in Maine, this would be a contender! While there aren’t the dramatic views that other trails might have, the Western Foothills Land Trust has made an impressive forest path. The trail from Shepard’s Farm over to Pleasant Street (roughly 2.6 miles) was built with beginner mountain bikers in mind, I think. It is smooth, and wide, and pretty. I think you might even be able to get a wheelchair in here (although there are some rough patches).

The trail network linking Shepard Farm and Witt Swamp is not yet complete. A map at the Shepard’s Farm trailhead says two new trails will be complete by 2019. The main parking lot is on Crockett Ridge Road, although it looks like there’s a pullover space on Pleasant Street for a few cars.

Another delightful part of this preserve are the six Bernard Langlais sculptures that dot the mowed pastureland. I couldn’t see a dedicated trail through the fields in the spring of 2017, but it seems as if it’s okay to wander around, checking out the works.

Directions: From Route 118, turn onto Crockett Ridge Road. In about 1/2-mile, turn into the trailhead parking lot. It comes up a bit suddenly, and the sign was slightly difficult to see in the spring of 2017 when I visited.

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Cornwall Nature Preserve, Paris

There seem to be a lot of trails — about three miles in total, or thereabouts — packed into this 147-acre preserve! All the trails are blazed with different colors. The preserve is wooded, with some streams meandering through it. The walking is easy.

You can find more information at Maine Trail Finder.

Directions: Turn onto Paris Hill Road from Route 26. The parking lot is about 1.85 miles on your right, if you’re coming from Paris. If you’re coming from West Paris and turn onto Paris Hill Road, look for the preserve on your left after 2.2 miles. Enjoy the gorgeous, historical Paris Hill community! It’s beautiful up there.

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Maggie’s Nature Park, Greenwood

Make sure to take a photo of the kiosk map! It’s a bit easy to get turned around — or it was for me! Roughly three miles of trails circle through the hilly woods of this 83-acre preserve. There are steep sections, and according to Maine Trail Finder and others, ledges with good views. In my opinion, the best views are from the yellow trail, on Peaked Mountain Bluff. I’ve noted it with a red teardrop.

Directions: From Route 26, turn onto Howe Hill Road, and then left onto Greenwood Road. The well-marked lot is 1.4 miles on the right.

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Buck’s and Lapham Ledges, Woodstock

The hike to both of these ledges is relatively easy given the gorgeous views they provide. Lapham Ledge is just one mile from the parking lot, and Buck is 1.6 miles. The hike to Buck requires a slightly more strenuous climb, but the views might be even nicer than Lapham’s, overlooking Mt. Abram’s ski trails and North and South Ponds. The hiking trails branch off a snowmobile trail — be on the lookout for them as they can be easy to miss. You can make a loop trail here if walk back along the gravel Mann Road.

Maine Trail Finder says these trails are on private land, so be sure to respect the land and wildlife.

Directions: The main parking lot is off Route 26, across from Mills Road. There is room for one, perhaps two cars, at the trailhead on Mann Road, but it seems the residents of that road might discourage parked cars.

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Bethel Pathway, Bethel

The paved portion of this town trail is just over a mile, and it’s really lovely and bucolic. Great for strollers, wheelchairs, and bikers, the trail follows the Androscoggin River. Too bad it’s not longer!

There is an unpaved section, after you cross Walkers Mill Road, where a gravel path follows the edge of a field — with bluebirds — and then just dead ends. The last section linking to the school’s ski trails is defunct, or it was in the spring of 2017.

Directions: There are several places to pick up the trail. Probably the best place to park is at Davis Park, off of Route 26, just outside of town.

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Mount Will, Newry

This is a doable hike for little kids, with nice views on the south and north ledges. The loop is roughly three miles. Close to the south cliffs, you’ll see a sign for the Gray Memorial, a plaque remembering a couple who died in a plane crash here. To reach the plaque, walk a quarter mile along the old road or snowmobile path.

More info can be found on Maine Trail Finder.

Directions: The trailhead is roughly five miles from Bethel. Take Route 2 north. The Mount Will parking lot is just under two miles past the Sunday River Brewing Company on the left. It is directly opposite the Bethel Recycling and Transfer Station.

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Step Falls Preserve, Newry

Along Route 26, you can make several stops to check out pretty glorious falls. The first one, Step Falls, might be the nicest, with the stream running over smooth, wide rocks into deep pools for at least half the length of .5-mile trail. I bet this place is a zoo on a hot summer day. 

Although there is a place for handicap parking here, the trail is not too, too easy. It’s short, though. It ends at a private property line.

Farther west along Route 26, you can also take a short walk (1/4-mile) at Screw Augur Falls and at Moose Cove. Mother Walker Falls is in between the two — and is not quite as impressive as the other spots. At Moose Cove, the trail is wide and easy, with steps, boardwalks, and overlooks.

Find more info about Step Falls at Mahoosuc Land Trust, and more info about these other interesting spots on Maine Trail Finder.

Directions: Going west on Route 26 toward the state park, you’ll see the preserve parking lot on the right, just before Wight Brook, about eight miles from Route 2. It’l the second preserve you’ll pass — the first is for Stewart Family Preserve and Grafton Loop Trail. The preserve is ten miles from the New Hampshire border, 14 miles northwest of Bethel and one-half mile southeast of Grafton Notch State Park.

My pics include some shots from Screw Augur and Moose Cove.

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Whitecap and Black Mountains, Rumford

For a not too terribly strenuous climb, this 2,214-foot mountain has a glorious open top with 360-degree views. I recommend ascending via the red trail, on the east and blazed with a red-orange color, and descending along the yellow trail on the left/west, which lets you walk into the spectacular views of this route. The connector trail between the red and the yellows trails at the bottom of the mountain takes you over a small bridge where you can check out a charming stream with small falls.

Note, when you start out at the bottom of the red trail, you’ll see a snowmobile trail heading off to the left, close to the trail sign-in box. Continue on straight here, up the wide path.

At about .35 miles from the parking lot, you’ll pass the connector trail to the yellow trail, or Starr Trail.

If you’re headed up the yellow trail, make sure you don’t miss the walking path off to the left at roughly half a mile from the connector trail. It’s marked by a cairn, but I missed it! If you miss it, you’ll end up walking along a grassy old road or snowmobile path — it’s not as nice, but it does reconnect with the hiking path.

There are spectacular views once you reach the ledges. The last 1/2 mile to the summit is also wonderful. If you do the total loop here, it’s a little under five miles.

This mountain is part of the 751-acre Mahoosuc Land Trust’s Rumford Whitecap Preserve.

There is a 4.75-mile connecting trail to Blackcap Mountain ski preserve. It’s definitely not as glorious and dramatic as the Whitecap side. If you do this starting from Whitecap, you’ll descend down Whitecap along a forested trail until you reach the bottom of the valley between Whitecap and Black Mountain. The trail crosses a grassy helicopter landing and then starts up Black Mountain, reaching an old building close to the cell tower with a bit of a view, before proceeding down the mountain mostly via a footpath.

The Black-and-White trail does not seem terribly well used, but it is well marked. *There is, however, one tricky section on a logged section of the mountain that I’ve marked with a red icon on my map. For a brief 100 feet or so, you’ll be walking along a skidder road in a logged area. Look for a cairn to your right; it is hard to see. The path opens up to a view of the Black Mountain ski lodge above a ski run, and then takes you down a ravine. You’ll eventually come out on a ski run; take a left here and shortly you’ll see a chairlift and the base area below.

If you start from the Black Mountain base lodge, you’ll want to hike up the mountain underneath the chairlift farthest to the right (if you’re looking up the mountain). Once you get to the top of the chairlift, continue left on the road behind it. Look for a sign for the Whitecap/Black Mountain trail on your right in about 100 yards.

Directions: From Route 5 (also called the Ellis River Road) turn right on Andover Road and onto the short bridge over Ellis River. After .4 miles, turn left on East Andover Road, and go another .2 miles to the parking lot on the left. The trail begins across the road. 

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Reynolds Forest, Sidney

You can take a short walk at Reynolds Forest, just over half a mile, and have a lovely experience. The 35-acre preserve offers a floodplain, pasture, and the Goff Brook falls. The great Kennebec Land Trust protects this land.

Directions: From Augusta take the River Road (Route 104) north towards Sidney. Once in Sidney, look for the Dinsmore Road on your left. Shortly after passing the Dinsmore Road, you will see the KLT sign on your left, just before the road crosses Goff Brook. Park along the road. 

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