Gamble Preserve, Phippsburg

This is a delightful, albeit small (2-acre) preserve, with a .2-mile trail that includes a couple of swings, a picturesque bench, and some craggy rocks by the shore that make for good exploring for children, and for beautiful views of a quiet harbor for adults.

Directions: From Rte. 209 at Phippsburg Town Hall go 3 miles south, and turn right onto Sebasco Rd. Follow Sebasco Road one half mile to West Point Rd on the left. Turn onto West Point Rd. and go 1.6 miles. Past the church, you will see the intersection with Carrying Place Cove Rd. on the right. The parking is just ahead to the right.

McDonald Marsh, Phippsburg

This small parcel is part of an important tract of land conserved by the Phippsburg Land Trust to protect waterways that feed into Spirit Pond and the Morse River, both part of this area’s intertidal habitat. The walk itself is a forested loop.

Directions: A small parking lot located at 1043 Parker Head Rd.

Fuller Mountain, Phippsburg

A roughly .6-mile hike will take you to the top of Fuller Mountain, to its nice views, and to the remains of a mountain-top quarry. I believe this trail is on private land, so take care. It is not marked, but the trail is easy to follow. From the parking area, you start out on an old track, walking below a ridge (which will be on your right). At some point you start following a stream. At roughly .35-mile, the track takes a sharp right up the hill. The climb is short and a bit steep. Keep following the path to the open, ledgy summit — it is fairly discernible where people have walked before.

Directions: There is a small pull-off of Meadowbrook Road, where the road make a sharp turn. It’s about .4 miles from the junction with Pasture Road.

Merritt Mountain and Robinson’s Rock (Bumper Rock), Phippsburg

Map above shows Merritt Mountain and Bumper Rock trails in blue, and Totman Cove trails in red.

This is a wonderful walk on a well-made, well-blazed trail system. I recommend hiking from Merritt Mountain over to Robinson’s Rock (aka as Bumper Rock) for two astonishing sea views from high, open ledges.

In total, the network has almost 4.5 miles of trails that wind through diverse woods, including pitch pine forests. Several picnic tables have been placed at nice points along the paths, including atop both summits. 

You can access the trail system from several places, including the US post office on Sebasco Road, or from Sebasco Road just a bit beyond where it intersects with West Point Road. There is also a trailhead off of Rocky Crest Lane, a private drive opposite Sebasco Harbor Resort.

The only issue here is parking. I believe Merritt Mountain is part of Sebasco Harbor Resort, and I’m not entirely sure where you should leave your car. The resort does have a general parking area close to Round Cove. To access this lot, you should drive down the main entryway of Kenyon Road. Look for an information sign that includes “Parking,” with an arrow to the left. Go left to follow a winding, narrow drive to a large parking area. Otherwise, there is a pullover for a couple of cars off of Sebasco Road near the trail to Bumper rock. You might also be able to park at the post office’s very small lot when it is closed.

Distances: From the trailhead off Rocky Crest Lane to the summit of Merritt Mountain, it is .4 miles, and not very steep, although there are a few rocks to pick your way over. From the summit of Merritt Mountain to Robinson’s Rock, it is just about .85 miles. The trail to Robinson’s Rock is fairly wide and clear, making for the easiest walking in the trail network. From Sebasco Road to the top of Robinson’s rock, it is about .5 miles. Finally, from the US post office to where the path intersects with the main trail system, it is roughly .7 miles.

Directions: Follow Route 209 south down the Phippsburg peninsula. Take a right onto Sebasco Road, and you’ll see two pullovers on your right after passing W. Point Road. From this point, a wide path across the street takes you up to Robinson’s Rock. For the trailhead closest to Sebasco Harbor, continue to Kenyon Drive, which will be on your left, or to the post office, which is farther along the road on the right.

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Hermit Island Campground, Phippsburg

My rough, and not-complete map has walking paths in magenta and campsite lanes and dirt roads in blue. An official campground map is below.

This glorious 255-acre peninsula has so many campsite lanes and trails and dirt roads, and secret beaches and pocket coves, that you could do many different walks over several days. Definitely take some time to explore here! There are secluded coves with white sand beaches, craggy outcrops with sea views, quiet forest paths, and a warren of private camping spots along winding narrow lanes.

In the summer, the island, which is connected to the mainland, is only open to campers. But in the off-season, the campsite permits walkers on its property and its trails, as long as you leave your car at the gate and pick up after your dog (Thank you, thank you, Hermit Island Campground!). There weren’t many people here on a quiet December weekend when I visited. 

I recommend starting your walk at Head Beach, trekking along to Joe’s Head and along the campsite lanes to Sand Dune Beach and West Dune Beach. Check out Breakwater Point and Lagoon Beach. Walk along the lanes to Osprey Point (so great!). You will find the trailhead for the walking paths close to Osprey Point. They aren’t well marked, but you should see red and blue blazes marking a trail off of Cross Island lane.

While it’s hard to get lost here (the island is small), I saw a few unofficial paths as well as the blazed trails, making for a bit of unclear going at times. I didn’t follow every trail. To walk from one end of the other is roughly between 1.6 and 2 miles, depending on which trail you take.

So, to continue my recommended walk: The red-and-blue blazed path, along the coast, is a spectacular hike. Follow this along the island shore to Sand Dollar Beach (and make sure you scramble up the rock head here from the beach for the views). Then rejoin Island Road (a dirt road) and walk down the small peninsula (which will be on your left if you are looking back toward the campground). Continue through a marine yard to cross the cove along the wooden bridge here, and head back to the campsite along Island Road. At some point, you’ll see a sign for White Trail on your right. You can take this trail back into the forest, where it hooks up with the wooded Orange Trail and also the coast trail. Either one makes for a nice return to the campground.

Directions: From Route 1 in Bath, take the exit for Routes 209 and 216 toward Phippsburg. Follow 209 and 216 straight to Hermit Island, Phippsburg. The campground will be on your right, off of 216, close to the end of the peninsula. Drive along the dirt access way and park in the lot.

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Noble Hill Preserve, Phippsburg

This is a short, pleasant walk for people who want a breath of fresh air and some lovely views. Noble Hill is maintained by the Phippsburg Land Trust. For some other short walks nearby, check out Greenleaf Preserve and Mary’s Woods.

Directions: From Rte. 209 at Winnegance proceed 1.5 miles to the Fiddlers Reach road and turn left. Follow Fiddlers Reach road 1.5 miles to the gravel parking lot on the right.

Morse Mountain, Phippsburg

This has got to be one of the most beautiful areas in midcoast Maine, if not in all of Maine. Over the years, the 600-acre preserve has grown in popularity, and now there is a parking lot for visitors that quickly fills up on weekends and on beautiful summer days. So arrive early or late on glorious Saturdays and Sundays! You’ll be turned away if there are too many people in the preserve.

The full name of this land is the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area. The 2-mile trail (one way) takes you across a salt marsh, after which you start ascending the 180-foot Morse Mountain. You can take a quick detour to see the view of the winding Morse River emptying into the glittering ocean off of Seawall Beach. 

Once you summit, you’ll begin descending to the beach, passing through a beautiful pitch pine forest, with stumpy, gnarled trees and sandy soil. You’ll pass more little summer homes and another view of the marsh. Then you’ll pass through denser woods before ending up on the wide, white beach and bone-white boulders of Seawall Beach. Lovely! Pack a bathing suit and, if you would like, go for a long walk along the long beach. No dogs allowed.

Directions: As you approach Bath, exit Route 1 onto Route 209 South (High Street) towards Phippsburg/Small Point/Sebasco/Popham Beach. Follow Route 209 South for 11.6 miles. Where Route 209 turns sharply left to Popham Beach, continue straight ahead on Route 216 for .4 of a mile. Turn left on Morse Mountain Road. Drive about 350 feet to the entrance of the parking lot on the left.


New Meadows Trail, Phippsburg

Sprague Pond Trail in red, Mica Mine in green, Denny Reed in blue and New Meadows in lilac.

This is part of the Basin Preserve, a vast, sprawling tract of conserved land. The Nature Conservancy maintains several trails here: Mica Mine trail, Denny Reed Trail and the Sprague Pond Trail. The New Meadows Trail isn’t so much a walking path as a collection of a few old roads popular with ATVs and horseback riders.

To reach the water, head straight on the main path/road from the parking area. Where the road seems to split in two (very soon after leaving), stay left. (The road to the right goes to a small clearing and then reconnects with the main road.) In .5 miles you’ll pass a road on your left. Don’t take it, you’ll end up in someone else’s back yard. In .8 miles from the parking area, you’ll reach the shore of the river. You can do a small loop here — it passes through pretty forest.

Directions: From Route 209 southbound in Phippsburg, turn right onto Basin Road. Proceed on Basin Road (it turns to gravel) about 1.6 miles, passing two gravel roads intersecting from the right. At the intersection at mile ~1.6, stay right to continue on Basin Road, shortly passing a boat launch and viewpoint on the right. Keep going for another ~0.7 miles. You’ll see a dirt road with a series of boulders lining the right side of the road. This is Hedgehog Road and the beginning of New Meadows Trail.


Bumper Rock to Totman Cove, Phippsburg

If you live in Phippsburg, you have the right to park at the Totman Cove preserve, which includes a popular sandy beach. Non-residents, who might want to consider visiting during the off-season, can park on Sebasco Road and walk in from the trail system for Robinson’s Rock and Merritt Mountain, which is a really nice way to travel! Robinson’s Rock has lovely views out to the ocean, and its trail system is blazed. But the trail to West Point Road, and the access road to Totman Cove, is not marked, albeit fairly easy to follow.

Once you have crossed West Point Road and walked down the Totman Cove access road, you’ll find a trailhead to the 1.5 mile-loop behind the picnic table on the bluff. The trails are marked with red blazes, and are easy to moderate. The leg along the creek is especially pretty.

Directions: From Route 209, take the Sebasco Road about ½ mile to West Point Road. On the West Point Road, about .25 mile on the right, is a small area to park at the trail head across the road from the Totman Preserve sign. The trail can also be accessed from the Sebasco Road. Parking is on the right side of the road. The trail is on the left, across the street.


Greenleaf Preserve, Phippsburg

A .5-mile public walking trail through this easement leads to the Kennebec River and a small salt marsh on the bank, according to the Phippsburg Land Trust. The remainder of the easement is private and not open to public access. For some other short walks nearby, check out Noble Hill and Mary’s Woods.

Directions: Take Main Rd. (Rte. 209) 3.3 Miles north of Center Store, or 1.5 miles south of Winnegance, and turn onto Fiddlers Reach Rd. , proceed .3 miles to Atwood Ln. then turn right onto Atwood Ln. Proceed over the hill on Atwood Ln. approximately .3 mile at which point you will find the parking area on an old abandoned road. The trail-head is 200 further on Atwood Rd. on the right, marked by a sign.

Bijhouwer Forest Easement, Phippsburg

There are no stunning ocean views here, but this land offers quite a few delights — a towering 100-foot rock, a waterfall, interesting fungi, small meadows, crisscrossing streams. The Phippsburg Land Trust says the 73 acres also shelter one of the northernmost stand of mountain laurel in New England. The laurel blooms in late June and early July. Once you reach the first meadow, look for signs for the mountain laurel (at the top of the field) or the waterfall (at the far end of the meadow).

Directions: Follow Route 209 into Phippsburg, if coming from out of town. At the Stony Brook Road, turn right (the Stony Brook Road is about 3.5 miles from the causeway at the Phippsburg/Bath town line). Devil’s Highway is a left hand turn about .6 miles from the start of the Stony Brook Road. The left turn comes at a sharp turn. If you’ve come to the Fuller Mountain Road, a similar left hand turn, you’ve gone too far. The parking area is on the left. There is a small PLT sign in the parking area.


Wilbur Preserve at Cox Head, Phippsburg

I was amazed to find myself sitting on a high, open ledge here at Phippsburg Land Trust’s Wilbur Preserve, looking out over Atkins Bay, Fort Popham (and the cute nearby community) and all the way out over the ocean. Wilbur Preserve is located at the end of a dead-end lane (it feels like you’re twisting and turning forever). Eventually, you’ll reach an open spit of land, beautiful in its own right, where someone has placed several chairs to enjoy the view.

After a short, steep hike up, you’ll find yourself at an open ledge. It’s a special spot. There are two trails, one takes you to the overlook and one does a small loop in the woods and apple orchards below the ledges.

Directions: From Rte. 209 at Winnegance proceed 4 miles to the Bisson’s Center Store and turn left onto Parker Head Rd. Follow Parker Head Road 4 miles to Cox’s Head Rd on the left. Proceed .6 miles out on Cox’s Head Rd.; you will see a sign pointing to Wilbur Preserve and the road becomes the Green Point Road. Proceed .25 miles to the parking area on the left.


Cooley Center Pond and McKay Farm Preserves, Phippsburg

Phippsburg Land Trust does it again, offering a huge, quiet, lovely tract of conserved land etched with many trails to make for long and varied walks. The perimeter trail (4.7 miles, marked with red blazes) is very pleasant as it borders Center Pond, in which you probably can probably swim, although I haven’t. The forested side of the perimeter trail goes through lovely pitch pine forests. There is a sweet beaver pond in the center of the parcel, too. The interior trails (mostly old logging roads) were a little less marked, or less reliably marked when I visited in the winter of 2016, than the perimeter one.

You can also walk to Elbow Hill and do a small loop. There are views through trees of the marsh.

In addition, the land trust has connected another 102-acre parcel to the south, the McKay Farm Preserve. As of the spring of 2021, there is a 2.4-mile loop (including the two small attached loops), which includes some short, steep scrambles and a long stretch by a large beaver pond. The land trust says it has plan for more trails and direct access (now you must walk about 1.5 miles or so through Center Pond.)

Directions: Take Rte. 209 (High St.) south from Bath, to Winnegance; continue on Rte. 209 (Main Rd.) south 4 miles to the Center Store. Turn left onto Parker Head Rd. and go .6 mile, crossing the Center Pond causeway, and up the hill to the Center Pond Preserve parking lot on the right.


Sprague Pond Trail, Phippsburg

Sprague Pond Trail in red, Mica Mine in green, Denny Reed in blue and New Meadows in lilac.

You can do a lovely and long walk in the varied woods around Sprague Pond on the Basin Preserve, a huge tract of land protected by The Nature Conservancy. 

The high points of the Sprague Pond trail, literally, are massive boulders with ledge tops and scruffy pitch pines. The preserve also has a deep water pond, with rock ledges for sunning and for jumping off of into the cold water. There is a short trail, called the Meditation Trail, that goes about halfway round the pond.

The loop is 3.5 miles. The access trail from Basin Road is about .7 miles. 

TNC says that in 2006 an anonymous donor gave The Nature Conservancy 1,910 acres in Phippsburg, including miles of coastline around The Basin, a saltwater inlet on the New Meadows River. The Denny Reed, Mica Mine and New Meadows trails are also part of this land.

Directions: To access this loop, find the parking area off Basin Road, a bit less than a mile from Route 209. TNC is growing chestnut trees in the field by the trailhead as part of an effort to produce blight-resistant seeds. There is also a parking lot off Route 209, which is much closer to the little swimming pond.


Perkins Farm Trail and Fort Baldwin, Phippsburg

If you want to get away from the sun and the crowds at Popham Beach, you can head out on this delightful and easy trail to check out a crumbling old fort, or rather, its batteries, as well as a couple of nice spots by the bay.

The Perkins Farm Trail is a 1.2-mile walk through lovely woods to the site of Fort Baldwin, a series of three interesting batteries built between 1905 and 1912, with dripping tunnels, old living quarters with fireplaces, and crumbling stairs to explore. You can climb to the top of the grassy batteries and see a view through the trees of the sea. The fort is part of a state park. Go a bit farther on the path, and you wind up at the shore with a view across the bay to Fort Popham. To get to Fort Popham, carry on down Route 209 to its end.

The path to the first ocean view point is blazed in blue; the path to the forts is blazed in yellow. It is a bit easy to miss the path that branches off right to the batteries, at .4 miles, if you’re starting at Perkins Farm Lane, so keep your eyes out. You’ll reach the first tower and old battery at around .8 of a mile.

Directions: From Popham State Park, continue on Route 209 to the east. Take a left on Perkins Farm Lane, drive almost to the end and park at a small lot on the left.

View Perkins Farm Trail, Phippsburg in a larger map

Ridgewell, Duley Farm, LeMont, and Morse River Marsh Preserves, Phippsburg

I keep having to add to my map of this trail network, and to the post title, because the Phippsburg Land Trust keeps adding land to this large protected area. That’s a good problem!

The trails on the 46-acre Ridgewell Preserve hook up with a series of paths on abutting preserves to form a long and interesting walk up to and along forest ridges, over streams and by stone walls, and to views and historical sites. There’s something ever so mystical about this land. Massive boulders lie like slumbering monsters — they’re called Dinosaur’s Rocks, and it does seem as if they might wake up at some point. There are also remains of old settlements and cemeteries with worn headstones deep in the woods. A lot of the forest is pitch pine — scruffy pines growing on sandy soil on exposed ledge. It is lovely.

Some of the nicest trails are along the ridge and to the Dinosaur Rocks — the white- and orange-blazed trails on the map you can pick up at the kiosk.

In addition, the Ridgewell Preserve connects to the Morse River Marsh Preserve, which has a 1-mile loop. There are pretty views down the river marsh from a boulder.

As of summer 2021, you can now also leave the red-blazed trail and hike north through the John O’Neil LeMont and Duley Farm Preserves. The latter preserve is 179 acres. The loop to the view of Duley Pond from a high ledge outcropping, and then over to Parker Head Swamp, is about 2.7 miles. So from the parking head to the turn off the red trail, which is 1 mile, be prepared to do a 4.7-mile walk if you do the complete loop. This trail was still new, so I relied on the white blazes to find my way (that is, the trail was not always obvious). But I anticipate this will become a popular walk, since the view of Duley Pond is beautiful. In addition, the trail passes a deep gorge, where Parker Head Swamp empties into Parker Head Creek, which should not be missed if you’re hiking all this way.

The preserve at its southern end also has a blazed trail to the Bates College’s Shortridge Center, at 74 Popham Road. The college allows the public to walk its trails, which lead to the Meetinghouse Pond. It is easy to miss the turn onto this trail from the preserve trail, but it is marked by a painted SR on the rocks at the intersection.

Directions: Drive south on Rte. 209 (Main Rd.), 3.3 Miles south of the Center Store turn left onto Pride Rock Way. The Ridgewell trailhead is on the south edge of the turnaround. There is also an access point on Route 209, Popham Road, but it there is no safe parking along the road.