QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 1,196 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~3.3 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: Branch Lake, old pine forests, streams, marsh
You can do two great loops in this 240-acre public forest on paths that wander to marshes and through old forests to the quiet shores of Branch Lake, Ellsworth’s main drinking water supply. The preserve connects to thousands of acres of adjacent conserved land.
After driving to the trailhead along a 1-mile gravel access road, you’ll continue your walk past a gate and down a tote road. When I visited in January, 2019, I found that the main trails, which branch off the tote road, to be well marked and easy to follow. Maps have been set up at all major intersections. Future trails, which are marked in green on the map, hadn’t yet been constructed.
If you only have time for one of the two beautiful loops, I slightly preferred the Brookside Trail, as the path is lovely, and when you get to the lakeside, there is a picnic table and what appeared to be, under the snow and ice, a little beach?
From the preserve gate, it’s .5 miles to the Pine Trail along the tote road. The Pine Trail (a lovely stretch through a pine forest) is .3 miles. The Lake Loop is 1 mile long — that is, it’s .3 miles to the .7-mile loop.
It’s about .6 miles along the tote road to the junction with Brookside Trail, which is 1 mile long (~.6 miles to the .4-mile lakeside loop).
Directions: From the corner of Main Street and Route 1A in downtown Ellsworth, drive north 6.5 miles to the Branch Lake Public Forest sign on your left. Turn left and drive 1 mile to the gravel trail parking lot. I don’t believe it’s plowed in the winter?