Monument Hill, Leeds

This loop trail offers a short, brisk climb to an open ledge, looking west, and a Civil War monument erected in 1895 by Major General Oliver Otis Howard. Howard, who was from Leeds, was an interesting fellow who graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850. Among his career highlights was his appointment by President Lincoln to commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, where he oversaw the integration of former slaves into American society. The college has digitized his letters, photographs and diaries.

Soon after the trailhead kiosk, you’ll have a choice of going left or right. I think both routes are equally steep, but thankfully short! The trail is well marked, but there do appear to be other, unofficial trails heading off into the woods close to the top.

Directions: There is a narrow pull-off for several cars on North Road, where the trailhead is located. From Route 106, turn onto Church Hill Road. The turn to North Road on the right will be approximately a mile. Go another mile on North Road, and the trailhead will be on the right.  

Sawyer Mountain Highlands, Limerick and Limington

I find it kind of sweet that this area is called the ‘highlands,’ since we’re not talking immensely high elevations! What you do find here seem to be foothills that step up gradually to the great mountains of New Hampshire and northern Maine. Nonetheless, the little mountains in this area are great — they’re relatively easy to climb and some offer fine views, including this one. Don’t expect spectacular majesty and you’ll come away fulfilled by this hike, I think.

This preserve encompasses more than 1,400 acres. “The Sawyer Mountain Highlands are located in the largest un-fragmented block of undeveloped forested areas in York and Cumberland counties,” according to the Francis Small Heritage Trust.

There are two ways to summit summit the 1,213-feet Sawyer Mountain. The trailhead off Route 117 in Limington seems more popular — probably because it is easier to get to. You can do a .7-mile, easy nature loop from this trailhead. If you want to summit the mountain, you have two options: take a 2.8-mile footpath, which starts by climbing gradually and then levels out before climbing gently again. The other slightly shorter 2-mile or so route goes up the old Sawyer Road, which offers a relatively steady, easy incline. The footing is somewhat rocky, though. At .8-mile, you’ll pass a route off to the right, leading to Norton Road. A side path from this trail leads to old home foundations and appears to be a dead end.

If you keep going to the summit from this intersection, you’ll soon come to an intersection (with some interesting old remains from earlier settlements). You can continue up Sawyer Road (on your right) to the final .3-mile trail (to your left) that leads to the summit. Or you can take a left, and pick up the footpath (on your right), which leads to the summit.

On the other side of the mountain, you will find a 1.4-mile trail thats starts from the gravel Sawyer Mountain Road. This trail is marked with little wooden turtle signs. You start up a steep walking path from the trailhead, which levels off for a pretty stretch through forest, crisscrossed with stone walls, before joining the old Sawyer Road (rocky and slippery when wet). The road continues up the mountain to your right. About .4 miles later, you’ll come to an intersection with a sign for the summit, which is another .3 miles to the right and up. 

At the summit there’s an open grassy area. If you are standing facing the views, you’ll see a trail off to your left, heading over to another scenic overlook (not as nice as the summit). From there, you can hike down and back up the old Sawyer Road. You’ll come to an intersection with the footpath that leads down to the Route 117 trailhead in Limington.

There is a gorge off the old Sawyer Road on the Limerick side of the mountain. The path unfortunately has been closed off by the landowners to hikers, and I couldn’t see an alternative way to get there, although I didn’t look too hard. (This was in July 2017.)

Directions: For the Limerick trailhead, take Route 11 in Limerick and turn on to the Emery Corner Road. Follow the Emery Corner Road for 2 miles until it ends at the Sawyer Mountain Road. Turn left on the Sawyer Mountain Road and follow it for 1.1 miles (it turns into a dirt road) up a steep hill to the parking lot on the right. For the Limington trailhead, you’ll find a parking lot off Route 117 at a sharp turn in the highway, 2.5 miles south of the junction of Routes 25 and 117, and 2.4 miles north of the junction of Routes 11 and 117.

Milliken Mills Trails, Old Orchard Beach

The community seems really proud of this trail system — and they should be! It is a good place to walk. The trail are well-marked, and there are surprises along the way, including an old gravesite and pretty spots along the stream. Students have been involved in creating guides to the preserve. There are picnic tables. Thanks to a group of talented fourth graders, you can read more here.

To access the gravesite, walk along the orange-blazed trail. When you see the information panel about the grave, you’ll see a blue-marked trail in front of you. The gravestone is down the hill, slightly to the left. Some of the trails end at a housing development.

On the east side of the trail system (the one that does not have the parking lot), you’ll find the trail to the left of the kiosk if you are facing away from the road.

Directions: The parking lot is at 192 Portland Avenue. There are two parts of the trail system on either side of Portland Avenue.

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Turkey Hill Farm Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This is an interesting parcel close to the Shore Acres neighborhood, used mostly by neighbors. The trails are unmarked, and it’s unclear exactly where the preserve boundaries begin and end. The trails seem to continue on to someone’s private land — someone who doesn’t seem to mind people walking there — and up to some dilapidated military towers from a bygone era. I’ve tried to show the trails that I think are mostly on public property. Also nearby are some trails called Whaleback trails, across Old Ocean House and down Whaleback Way. Check out a map here and here.

Directions: The best place to access these trails is from Old Ocean House Road, close to where it meets Trundy Road. Or you can go down Aaron Road, which dead ends at a water tower and close to the very small trail system.

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Old Narrow Gauge Rail Trail, Randolph

This was a surprisingly sweet walk, about 1.8 miles one way, from Water Street to Birmingham Road. Someone has taken the time to construct bridges over the little streams, and to add funny trail signs. I was expecting a rather straightforward (literally) and somewhat dull walk, but the trail meandered as it followed a stream. While trees have grown up on the old bed, it’s still possible to see you’re walking along an old train route. The path follows part of the section of the 1890-1929 Kennebec Central Railroad between Togus and Randolph. The train used to transport coal and other goods the five miles to the former Veterans Home in Togus. More info on Maine Trail Finder.

Directions: You can pick up the trail next to the IGA parking lot in Randolph, or you can park on the side of Windsor Street (Route 226). The trail cuts through the woods and comes out on a snowmobile track. Turn right at the end, onto the snowmobile track, and you’ll come to Birmingham Road.

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Brunswick Landing Trails, Brunswick

Kate Furbish Preserve East trails in red; Neptune Trails in pink; wheelchair accessible trails in blue

Since the Navy moved out in 2009, and the base was formally decommissioned two years later, the 3,200-acre area has gradually been opened for civilian use. Barbed wire fences have been clipped, trails have been opened, and businesses have moved into industrial space. Snowy owls have been spotted here in the winter. The airplane runway is still open.

A bit of the trail on the western side is paved and wheelchair accessible. The part that does not run near the busy Bath Road is the nicest section. Many of the trails on the old base are wide and flat, more like roads. Close to the southern portion of this segment there is a nice picnic area near a small pond.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust  (BTLT) has developed some very squiggly  mountain bike trails in a 64-acre area called Neptune Woods, on the east side of the preserve. The easy, winding trails here interlace with older dirt roads, but the land trust has blazed them all well, as well as posted maps at what would have been confusing intersections.

In addition, the BTLA is developing beautiful trails at the Kate Furbish Preserve. Right now, you can catch some of these trails off Ordinance Road, which leads you through a neighborhood of old military bunkers. (We know where Brunswick townspeople will be headed when the nuclear winter arrives!) The long perimeter trail at Kate Furbish East is groomed for skiing. It is also nice for walking when there is no snow. If you do this 3.5-mile loop clockwise, you begin on an old Navy road that passes through a meadow and to the tip of a small pond. (You have to walk through holes in old metal fencing and pass by warnings of the munitions items you might still find on the land. ) At the end of the meadow, the path turns sharply right to enter the woods. The road follows the southern end of the preserve before arriving at the shores of Harpswell Cove. The walking is very easy on this section, wide and clear, with some rolling hills. The last winding leg of the path, along the cove and marsh, is beautiful, but the walking is slightly more difficult, with more roots and a few deep gullies.

Directions: To access the upper-western segment of trails, take Pine Street from Bath Road, and drive to the end of the street. Park where the road curves. You’ll see the paved trails ahead. To reach Neptune Road, make your way to Neptune Drive, off of Forrestal Drive, and park on the side of the road, across from a housing development. Kate Furbish Preserve East is off Ordinance Road. 

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Perkins Farm Trail and Fort Baldwin, Phippsburg

If you want to get away from the sun and the crowds at Popham Beach, you can head out on this delightful and easy trail to check out a crumbling old fort, or rather, its batteries, as well as a couple of nice spots by the bay.

The Perkins Farm Trail is a 1.2-mile walk through lovely woods to the site of Fort Baldwin, a series of three interesting batteries built between 1905 and 1912, with dripping tunnels, old living quarters with fireplaces, and crumbling stairs to explore. You can climb to the top of the grassy batteries and see a view through the trees of the sea. The fort is part of a state park. Go a bit farther on the path, and you wind up at the shore with a view across the bay to Fort Popham. To get to Fort Popham, carry on down Route 209 to its end.

The path to the first ocean view point is blazed in blue; the path to the forts is blazed in yellow. It is a bit easy to miss the path that branches off right to the batteries, at .4 miles, if you’re starting at Perkins Farm Lane, so keep your eyes out. You’ll reach the first tower and old battery at around .8 of a mile.

Directions: From Popham State Park, continue on Route 209 to the east. Take a left on Perkins Farm Lane, drive almost to the end and park at a small lot on the left.

View Perkins Farm Trail, Phippsburg in a larger map