QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 20,016 acres
- Trail Mileage: Many miles
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: moderate
- Sights: bogs, marsh, streams, lakes, forest
Almost one-third of this refuge “is for animals,” according the park ranger who told us that humans aren’t allowed to swim in any of the water bodies. While I didn’t see too much wildlife, except for beautiful geese (I think I walk too loudly and talk too much), I did enjoy the real feeling of wilderness you feel here.
The refuge is really made up of two areas, one enclosing the other. The federal wilderness area—for hikers only—is encircled by a buffer in which ATVs and other vehicles are allowed. So the best walking is along the narrow footpaths in the wilderness area. The trail blazes were faded when I visited and the trail signs well worn, but the paths were easy enough to follow—with only a few wrong turns made. They meander through forest and by wet lowland areas. In the refuge area, lots of dirt roads look like they would make for good bicycling or cross-country skiing.
The highlights in the refuge are the various water bodies: Mullen Meadow, Conic Lake, Cranberry Lake, etc. The refuge is part of a migratory route for many bird species, like waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds, and birds of prey.
By the way, the tower trail takes you up a moderate incline to the top of Bald Mountain and to a wooden fire tower…that has toppled over! And there are no views. The trail does not seem well trafficked.
If you don’t want to go for a longer hike, there are also several shorter nature trails around the park headquarters. It was too hot and buggy for me to complete them, but I’ll be back!
And if you do want to climb a short mountain with a bit of a view, you can head to the northeast corner of Moosehorn and park in a small area where Ice House Road meets Route 1. Then you walk down Ice House Road, which is part of the refuge’s Auto Route of the refuge for .4 miles, until you come to a couple of signs. There will be a jeep track on your left, heading into the forest. If you follow this track for .6 miles (there are no intersecting paths), you’ll arrive on the summit of Mt. Maguerrewok (380 ft.) where there are several small communications towers. Supposedly, there is a 50-foot path in front of the left-most tower that takes you to a view. I think I missed this little path because I was being besieged by horse flies and ran screaming down the mountain. But I did, briefly, see a view of the marsh from behind the tower, from an open ledge. More info here.
Directions: Refuge footpaths can be accessed from both Charlotte Road and Route 191. Everything is very well marked. To get to the refuge headquarters, where rangers can provide hiking info and maps, turn onto Headquarters Road from Charlotte Road and follow the sign to the refuge headquarters. The road continues past the HQ to a parking area with restrooms. You can pick up the longer walking trails here if you go past the closed gate, and walk straight for about a half a mile down Headquarters Road, past Mullen Meadow.