QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 30,000 acres
- Trail Mileage: Short to long walks possible
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: historical Native American site, old ski lifts, viewing platforms
The vast conservation area around the 629-foot Mt. Agamenticus includes many miles of well-blazed paths, as well as several old woods roads that carry over onto hundreds of abutting acres of public land. These nearby tracts include York and Kittery’s water district lands and several preserves, like Highland Farm and McIntire Highlands. In other words, you can start a walk here and not be done for many hours! If you like that kind of thing. AllTrails has a fairly good map of the many intersecting trails here (but there are blank areas).
Another wonderful quality to this popular place is the variety of trails. There is a beautiful wheelchair-accessible loop at the top of the main summit (called First Hill), with views in every direction along its curving way. (And yes, you can drive to the summit!) On a clear day, you can see astonishingly far, to the sea in one direction and to the frosty tips of the White Mountains in the other.
If you start from the bottom, you have a choice about how to hike up — there are many trails that make the short jaunt to the large, open summit of ledge and scrubby bush. Most, if not all, are kid friendly. This place is also a magnet for mountain bikers and long-distance trail runners. Only three or so of the trails don’t permit bikes (these are blazed in red and marked on the map.) Just a note for mountain bikers: all of the trails are rough, rocky, and rooty, and so aren’t appropriate for beginners.
If you want to go for a longer walk, you can leave the First Hill of Mt. Agamenticus and continue to Second Hill (550 ft.). From there, you can head over to Third Hill (526 ft.). The view from First Hill (Mt. Agamenticus) is stunning! Second and Third Hills have ledges at top, but the ocean views are obscured by spindly trees. Third Hill has a few views westward to the mountains from its Ledges Trail. This detailed map of trails is great, and copies are placed at several of the trail heads. From the parking lot at the base of Mt. Agamenticus, it’s roughly 1.5 miles to Second Hill. From Second Hill to Third Hill, depending on which route you take, it’s another 1.5 miles or so. You can hike from the top to the bottom of Mt. Agamenticus in just over a 0.5 mile, if you take the shortest route.
Directions: The main road to the area is Mountain Road. There are several places to park, including at the summit. You can also park at the bottom of the mountain, or along the dirt Mountain Road that continues west after the main gate (and is closed during the winter, according to Google maps). There are small pull-offs along this road, one of them near the Wintergreen trail head. There is also a larger area to park at the trailhead for Beaver Road, farther along Mountain Road. Farther away, to the north of the park, you can leave a car off Bennett Lot Road and follow the easy, wide Norman Mill Trail for about 1.6 miles to the park’s trail systems. Farthest away, you can park at the large lot for Orris Falls Conservation Area, off Emerys Bridge Road, and walk the 100 feet west along the road to the Checkerberry Trail (it’ll be on your left).
Trailheads with no parking: There is no parking on the dead-end Old County Road in South Berwick. You’ll see the trail into the park to your left, if you’re facing south; it runs along the perimeter of a private home’s yard. If you walk 100 yards or so along this path, you’ll reach the trailhead and sign for the conservation area and Great Marsh Trail. There is no parking at Norman Mill Trail’s southern trailhead. On my map, you’ll also see a spindly, long trail come out onto Ogunquit Road, near the Hilton Winn Preserve trailhead and parking area. This trail crosses some protected and some private land. It is not blazed but is easy to follow.