Posted on August 30, 2013 and last updated on June 17, 2020

Mica Mine, Phippsburg

QUICK TRAIL FACTS

  • Preserve Size: 1,846 acres
  • Trail Mileage: ~1.5-mile walk
  • Pets: no
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Sights: old mica mine, pitch pine forest


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

The 1.5-mile Mica Mine trail is part of The Nature Conservancy’s Basin Preserve. A glittering trail covered with mica winds up a hill, passing old pits of former mica mines to a pitch pine forest. The first half mile to the .5-mile loop climbs slightly. The trail is wide and easy to follow.

The trailhead is off Meadowbrook Road but has no trailhead sign or kiosk. At the trailhead there is a small area to park, and a visible track heading into the woods blocked by a wall of boulders. 

Mica mining was common in the early 20th century, as the substance is heat resistant and was once used for electrical insulation and heat shields in furnaces — and, I think, old car windshields? Someone told me that once. (A visitor to this site tells me that no, mica wasn’t used in windshields but “was used in the transportation industry around 150 years ago. It is known as eisenglass (German for iron glass). It can be found in broad sheets that flake apart. Thin layers of sheets are translucent. In old carriages, mica was used as window material—glass was too breakable, but mica can bend somewhat. From the musical, Oklahoma!, in the song, “Surry with the Fringe on the Top,” the surry (the horse-drawn buggy) has “eisenglass curtains you can roll right down, in case there’s a change in the weather.” Old wood stoves had eisenglass windows in their doors—you could see the fire inside, and the mineral could take high heat, unlike the window glass in those days, which could shatter if exposed to sudden temperature changes (like when opening the stove door).”

There are lots of other trails in this Basin area, which I’ve marked in different colors on the map. They’re connected by a dirt road that is nice to walk itself, as long as there aren’t too many trucks and four-wheelers.

Directions: The Mica Mine trailhead is on Meadowbrook Road, the rough gravel part. If you’re coming southbound on Route 209, turn right onto the Basin Road (about 0.7 miles south of the intersection of 209 and Parker Head Road). Go roughly 1.4 miles to the intersection with Meadowbrook Road on your right. About .3 miles, you’ll see a little pull-off on the right side of the road where you can park. The trail heads into the woods from here.

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