Aldermere Farm Preserve, Rockport

If you’re yearning for a stony seascape (especially on a cold, gray day!), you can reach one by walking down an easy 0.4-mile trail from Calderwood Lane. This is one of two short trails on Aldermere Farm, which is protected by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The second trail on the farm, which is 0.25-mile long, brings you to a little bluff overlooking the small Lilly Pond.

As for parking, the preserve map recommends visitors leave their cars on Russell Avenue. This means you’d have to take a short walk down Calderwood Lane to reach the trail to the ocean. But when we visited in the winter, people were parking at a lot across the lane from the trailhead. It could be that this belongs to the golf course and is only open to walkers in the winter?

Directions: The two trails are marked by small signs at the start of the paths. Parking is on Russell Avenue (but in the winter, I think you can park on Calderwood Lane, in a small lot belong to the golf club).

Community Wellness Trail, Rockport

This was a surprisingly lovely 1.5-mile looped trail, with ocean views, around Pen Bay Medical Center. The track is wide, and groomed (or rather flattened with some four-wheel vehicle) in the winter to make for easier walking. There are a couple of rather steepish hills. Benches and picnic tables dot the most scenic parts of the path. You can park at one of three spots on the hospital campus, although most people park at the little lot off Route 1. The parking areas are starred red on the official trail map.

Directions: The trail circles the rather large Pen Bay Medical Center, so if you type this destination into your GPS, you should easily find the trail. The designated parking lot for walkers is across Route 1 from CedarWorks, about 500 feet from Dearborn Lane.

Sides Preserve, Rockport

This is a small Coastal Mountains Land Trust preserve abutting the small Maces pond. The trail is wooded, and there is a spur to a boat launch. The preserve is off a busy road, so take care pulling in and out of the small parking area.

Directions: From Camden, take Route 1 south, then turn right onto Route 90. After 2.5 miles, turn left onto Route 17. Go 1.4 miles, and you’ll see a small parking area after Maces Pond. I recommend parking at the relatively wide pullout area near the boat launch, rather than at the actual trailhead (a few yards farther along the road, where there is a track blocked with a chain).

Harkness Preserve, Rockport

Set amid a little neighborhood, this Coastal Mountains Land Trust preserve trail winds through forest before coming out to a delightful spot overlooking Rockport Harbor. Someone has created, with what must have been quite a bit of effort, a stone patio and a stone throne.

Directions: From Camden, take Route 1 south, turning left onto Pascal Avenue. Turn right onto School Street, then turn right onto Spruce Street. About 100 yards up Spruce Street is the preserve parking, marked by a sign.

Erickson Fields, Rockport

This former farm and current preserve has a wide, easy trail that I think could be wheelchair accessible. It makes a 1.4-mile loop by some fields and through the woods. It’s protected by the Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

Directions: Erickson Fields Preserve is located at 124 West St. in Rockport. From the south, take Route 1 north until it intersects with Route 90 outside of Warren, and turn left on Route 90. Follow Route 90 nearly to its end, about 10.5 miles (and about 2.5 miles past the stoplight and intersection with Route 17). Erickson Fields Preserve is on your right across from Cross Street.


Beech Hill Preserve, Rockport

This preserve is stunning! After a short hike, you arrive at a picturesque stone hut with a sod-and-grass roof. Walk around the house for 360-degree views of mountains and the sea, and of meadows teeming with flowers, birds and insects. It’s glorious, and thus, quite popular. Coastal Mountains Land Trust manages the land here for grassland bird habitat and grows organic blueberries on one side of the hill.

For the best hike, start on the Beech Hill Road trailhead, and walk up the hill on a dirt road with expansive views. If you want to do a longer loop hike, continue on over the side of the hill and do the loop through the bushy habitat. Check out the interesting vines and berries. Lots of signs here warn of ticks. I pulled off five from Phoebe (there are also loaner dog leashes at the Beech Hill Road trailhead!). A second preserve trailhead is off of Rockville Road.

Directions: Beech Hill Summit Road trailhead, from Route 1, Rockport, heading south, take a right onto Beech Hill Rd. across from Hoboken Gardens. Go 1.6 miles, parking lot is on the left just past the old gate to Beech Hill and a stonewall. Woods Loop Trailhead, from Route 1, Rockport, heading south, take the first right immediately after ‘Fresh Off the Farm’ onto Rockville St. The parking lot is about .7 miles on the right-hand side of the road.


Georges Highland Path, Pleasant and Spruce Mountains, Union and Rockport

In my map, the Ragged Mountain trail is blue (and purple). Spruce Mountain and Mt. Pleasant are green. Bald Mountain is orange.

The land trust has an announcement: ***UPDATE: 7/5/16 – The Mount Pleasant Farm trailhead is now closed but the Mt. Pleasant St. trailhead is open as an out and back trail to the scenic view.

You can pick up this section of the Georges Highland Path at two spots: in Rockport off Route 17 or from the Mt. Pleasant Street trailhead.

Once you start climbing up Spruce Mountain, the path becomes dry and comfortable. I didn’t make it all the way to Route 117, but if you just want a short hike with spectacular views, start at the Route 117 parking lot. It’s about .6 mile to the summit. From the farm, it’s a little more than 3 miles one way, not including a little jog to western summit of Spruce Mountain — which is not to be missed! These paths are maintained by the Georges River Land Trust.

If you’ve got sturdy legs, carry on to Ragged Mountain, where there is 4.5 miles in the trail system, and then to Bald Mountain.

Georges River Land Trust has divided the 50-mile trail into three sections: Headwaters Region (farthest north in Montville), Central Region (this one, in Searsmont, Rockport and Camdent), and the Saltwater Region (in Thomaston).

Directions: To reach the western end of the trail, go to Mt. Pleasant farm. Follow Harts Mill Road south from Route 17 in South Hope for 0.25 miles and bear left onto Fogler Road. Travel 1.2 miles and bear left where the main road bears right. The parking lot is 100 feet ahead on the left, adjacent to the farm. There is also an informal parking area on Mt. Pleasant Street that bisects this trail section. From Fogler Road, travel 0.5 miles and turn left onto Mt. Pleasant Street. Travel 1 mile to a vehicle pull-out area on the left shoulder.

For the eastern end of the trail, use the Route 17 trailhead also serves Ragged Mountain. The parking lot is 2 miles north of the intersection of Routes 17 and 90 in West Rockport.