Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, Steuben
What a glorious place to visit. The Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge is part of a large expanse of protected land containing several preserves and more than 40 islands! This particular part of the refuge, on a peninsula in Steuben, offers two trail systems and “jack pine stands, coastal raised heath peatlands, blueberry barrens, old hayfields, freshwater and saltwater marshes, cedar swamps, granite shores, and cobble beaches,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The two trails are called Hollingsworth Trail and Birch Point Trail. Driving into the refuge, you’ll come to Birch Point first, on your right. The there-and-back walk begins in blueberry fields before entering the forest, leading you along a gentle but rutted track to the end of the point and two scenic areas: Lobster Cove and a cobbled beach. The beach, which you walk along as part of the trail, has a trash can at one end, so if you’re inspired to pick up plastic waste deposited by the tides, I believe you should!
Driving farther along the access road, you’ll come to the next trail system: Hollingsworth. If you only have time to do one, do this one. It’s the more dramatic of the two. It’s also a bit shorter, a 1.8-mile loop. The refuge says it’s tougher going than Birch Point, but that’s only slightly true. The walking is still pretty easy; it’s just not quite as smooth as Birch Point. The path takes you to Chair Pond Head and a lovely cove with a sandy/rocky beach and a pond behind.
Directions: From Route 1, turn south onto Pigeon Hill Road in Steuben. Drive 5.8 miles to reach the Birch Point trailhead on your right. To get to the Hollingsworth parking area, drive another .4 miles to a second parking area on your right. The trail starts across the road.