Great Wass Island Preserve, Beals

This is a dramatic place to walk, on an island jutting far into the sea. The 4.5-mile loop trail should only be completed if you have a few hours and are fairly steady on your feet. About 1.5 miles of the trail is along the rocky shore, which requires quite a lot of scrambling. At high tide, the going is even a bit rougher. And in bad weather, the rocks are slippery.

If you do the loop counter clockwise, you’ll first cross the island and its heath on the roughly 1.5-mile Little Cape Point Trail. Look for sundew and pitcher plants on the side of the boardwalk. Once you reach the shoreline, you’ll see sporadic blue blazes along the rocks marking the trail. The blazes aren’t always visible but you basically follow the exposed coast all around the island (except for brief stretches when you head inland behind a screen of trees) until you reach the Mud Hole Trail. At this point, you turn into protected woods again. This trail, with its exposed ledges and crooked coastal jack pines, is charming.

Note that no dogs are allowed on this Nature Conservancy preserve.

Directions: From Route 1, take Route 187 south to Jonesport. Turn south (at the Coast Guard Station) onto Bridge Street and cross the bridge over Moosabec Reach to Beals; turn left at the end of the bridge onto Bay View Drive. Continue approximately 1.1 miles to the causeway to Great Wass Island. Just beyond the causeway at the intersection turn right onto Black Duck Cove Road and continue 2 miles, past the Downeast Institute, to a parking area on the left. 




Saco Heath, Saco

People in Saco are lucky they have this spot so close by. The heath is an amazing place to visit. The palette of the landscape and the bog plants are beautiful, and on the foggy day I walked there, the colors were muted, the place had an enchanted feel. The multicolored boardwalk makes walking comfortable, dry and very fun, too, since the colors of the boards pop out against the heath background.

This Nature Conservancy preserve encompasses more than 1,200 acres of land, and the trail is 1.8 miles there and back. No dogs are allowed. According to Saco Bay Trails, walkers on the boardwalk at times are standing over 20 feet of water filled with partially decayed sphagnum moss. “Do not leave the trail,” the organization advises. “There are legends of people sinking out of sigh forever in this ‘bottomless’ bog.”

Springtime is evidently a wonderful time to visit this heathland. When the plants bloom, they spread “a carpet of lavender, pink and white across the heath,” according to the Conservancy.

Directions: Drive northwest on the Buxton Road (Rt. 112) for 1.7 miles after passing over the Maine Turnpike. A parking area, marked by a TNC sign, on the right side of the road may be missed as it sits behind a border of trees. Look for a small Nature Conservancy sign at the entrance to the parking lot.

Check out more info and photos from Saco Heath Preserve at Carefree Creative, a Maine-based web company that has helped us with our website!

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New Meadows Trail, Phippsburg


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

This is part of the Basin Preserve, a vast, sprawling tract of conserved land. The Nature Conservancy maintains several trails here: Mica Mine trail, Denny Reed Trail and the Sprague Pond Trail. The New Meadows Trail isn’t so much a walking path as a collection of a few old roads popular with ATVs and horseback riders.

To reach the water, head straight on the main path/road from the parking area. Where the road seems to split in two (very soon after leaving), stay left. (The road to the right goes to a small clearing and then reconnects with the main road.) In .5 miles you’ll pass a road on your left. Don’t take it, you’ll end up in someone else’s back yard. In .8 miles from the parking area, you’ll reach the shore of the river. You can do a small loop here — it passes through pretty forest.

Directions: From Route 209 southbound in Phippsburg, turn right onto Basin Road. Proceed on Basin Road (it turns to gravel) about 1.6 miles, passing two gravel roads intersecting from the right. At the intersection at mile ~1.6, stay right to continue on Basin Road, shortly passing a boat launch and viewpoint on the right. Keep going for another ~0.7 miles. You’ll see a dirt road with a series of boulders lining the right side of the road. This is Hedgehog Road and the beginning of New Meadows Trail.

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Flying Point, Georgetown



This is a beautiful place to walk, with two miles in total of trails, a marsh crossing, and a 3-mile loop around a quiet, wooded point.

But be careful: the first part of the path/road crosses that crosses the marsh to access the protected island can get covered with water at high tide. 

Despite the dangers!, the crossing to the island is one of the walk’s high points, as is the .4-mile spur that leads to a beautiful view. You could probably swim from the rocks here on a hot day. 

Back on the main route, if you continue along the road for another .6 miles or so, you’ll reach a loop that’s about 1.15 miles. The trails here follow old woods roads. They’re not blazed, but they’re easy to follow. The Nature Conservancy protects the land.

Directions: From Route 127, take Robinhood Road. Proceed about .5 miles and turn left on Flying Point Road, and then keep left at Jamison Way. At the end of the road there is a small parking lot for about 4 cars just before the marsh. Don’t drive across the marsh!




Josephine Newman Audubon Sanctuary, Georgetown

Map above show the Josephine Newman trails in blue and the Berry Woods preserve trails in red. I also include the town’s Round the Cove preserve on the west side of the Sasanoa River. (Dogs are allowed there but not on the Audubon land.)

Tucked away in Georgetown is an Audubon preserve with well-marked trails through lovely land. Josephine Newman Preserve is accessible three ways: via its trailhead off of Route 127, from behind the historical society on Bay Point Road, or from the Berry Woods Preserve trails. You can do a long, leisurely walk here if you carry on to Berry Woods Preserve. Some of the trails are more rugged and up-and-down than others. The blue-blazed Geology Trail is a bit harder, while the orange-blazed Horseshoe Trail is the easiest. There’s a beautiful point on the red Rocky End Trail that you shouldn’t miss.

There is one slightly befuddling part of the trail where you head up hill following yellow blazes toward an abandoned cabin. The trail ends at the cabin’s ruins that you can’t really see if there’s snow on the ground. Head back down and continue your walk.

Directions: From the junction of U.S. Route 1 and Route 127 in Woolwich, just east of the Woolwich-Bath bridge, head south on 127 for 9.1 miles to Georgetown. From the junction of U.S. Route 1 and Route 127 in Woolwich, just east of the Woolwich-Bath bridge, head south on 127 for 9.1 miles to Georgetown. Turn right at the sanctuary sign and follow the entrance road to the parking area. You can also pick up the trail at the town hall at 20 Bay Point Road, behind the historical society.

View Josephine Newman Audubon Sanctuary, Georgetown in a larger map




Berry Woods Preserve, Georgetown


Berry Woods trails are marked in red and Josephine Newman trails in blue

This Nature Conservancy preserve is a beautiful spot, with miles of trails spanning out from the trailhead. The 377-acre parcel connects with another 1,300 acres of conserved lands, including Maine Audubon’s Josephine Newman Sanctuary.

Berry Woods is well-blazed, but it is easy to miss the trail off to the right and to the view of Kennebec River if you’re not looking out for it.

To find the trail that continues across Bay Point Road from the Berry Woods Preserve parking lot, follow the driveway of the bearings business to the end. You’ll see a trail sign, and the path heads down to the left to the pond’s edge. No dogs allowed.

Directions: From Route 1, drive south on Route 127 South approximately 10 miles. Turn right on to Bay Point Road. The parking area is approximately 1 mile down on the right.

 

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Sprague Pond Trail, Phippsburg


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

You can do a lovely and long walk in the varied woods around Sprague Pond on the Basin Preserve, a huge tract of land protected by The Nature Conservancy. 

The high points of the Sprague Pond trail, literally, are massive boulders with ledge tops and scruffy pitch pines. The preserve also has a deep water pond, with rock ledges for sunning and for jumping off of into the cold water. There is a short trail, called the Meditation Trail, that goes about halfway round the pond.

The loop is 3.5 miles. The access trail from Basin Road is about .7 miles. 

TNC says that in 2006 an anonymous donor gave The Nature Conservancy 1,910 acres in Phippsburg, including miles of coastline around The Basin, a saltwater inlet on the New Meadows River. The Denny Reed, Mica Mine and New Meadows trails are also part of this land.

Directions: To access this loop, find the parking area off Basin Road, a bit less than a mile from Route 209. TNC is growing chestnut trees in the field by the trailhead as part of an effort to produce blight-resistant seeds. There is also a parking lot off Route 209, which is much closer to the little swimming pond.

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Denny Reed Point Trail, Phippsburg


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

Like the Mica Mine trail, the Denny Reed trail  is part of The Nature Conservancy’s Basin Preserve. Denny Reed is a beautiful walk, with trails to two ledgy points where swimming is possible. To the first point, it’s approximately .9 miles. And from there, it’s another .3 miles to the second point. Both are spectacular. 

The trail head is off Decker Hill Road, a dirt road that’s also good for a walk (if there aren’t too many trucks and four-wheelers zooming by). There are a few other trails in the basin, which I’ve marked on my map. They’re connected by a dirt road.

Directions (from Maine Trail Finder): From Route 209 southbound in Phippsburg, turn right onto Basin Road (about 0.7 miles south of the intersection of 209 and Parker Head Road). Proceed on Basin Road (it turns to gravel) about 1.6 miles, passing two gravel roads intersecting from the right. At the intersection at mile ~1.6, stay right to continue on Basin Road, shortly passing a boat launch on the right. As you ascend away from the shore, at ~2miles from route 209, bear right on Decker Hill Road. Travel ~0.25 miles and park on the right at the east trailhead.

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Mica Mine, Phippsburg


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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