QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 170 acres
- Trail Mileage: more than 3.5 miles
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: Lowes Cove, Damariscotta River, field
The wonderful Darling Marine Center, a hub of marine research and education — an education that includes talks and events open to the public, according to its website — also invites people to walk the trails on its 170-acre campus.
There’s a network of more than 3.5 miles of paths fanning out from the center’s assortment of buildings. A central road essentially splits the campus into two halves; each half is explorable by trail and each has a different feel. All the trails are marked with visible trail signs at their start. In general, the waterside trails are in better shape than the interior trails. But everything is fairly well marked.
The Lowes Cove side feels damper, and has pretty views along the narrow cove. The other side, with a trail along the Damariscotta River, is slightly more dramatic, with a couple of outposts along the river that are absolutely lovely. It looks like swimming is possible at pebbly Silkie Beach (although when I visited there were a couple of nesting terns there that did not appreciate our presence, and we quickly left them in peace). Trolls’ Picnic Point, with its rocks jutting out into the river, is also pretty.
Kind of an important note! When you are walking along the Damariscotta River along the River Bluff Trail, keep your eye out for when the trail turns inland, into the forest. It is marked by two narrow blazes: white and blue. Otherwise you will do what I did, which was continue obliviously along a rough shore path for another half mile.
Directions: The address is 193 Clarks Cove Road in Walpole, a village in South Bristol. Take Rt. 129 south from Damariscotta. It will split from Rt. 130 at around three miles. At roughly 3.4 miles, you’ll make a right onto Clarks Cove Road, and the visitor’s center is a mile in. The center asks walkers to sign its log book in the Visitors’ Station, which is well marked when you drive in.