Thorpe Preserve, Boothbay

This is a tiny but pleasant preserve, with about 10 to 15 minutes of walking. But you might want to spend a bit of time on the protected pebbly beach (if the tide is right!), which is on the other side of McKown Point Road from the parking area/trailhead. It’s about 0.1 miles from the parking area.

To find the trail to the beach, head out of the public boat launch driveway and cross the street. Follow the guardrail to where it breaks, and you’ll see a marked path down to the shore. There are old concrete stairs stepping down to boulders on the beach. My elderly mom had a bit of trouble here—but you can also make your way to the water by walking down the grassy bank before you reach the stairs.

From the parking lot, you can also climb 0.1 mile to a little bench with views.

Directions: From Boothbay Harbor, continue southwest on Route 27 about 1.5 miles. Turn left on McKown Point Rd. (follow signs to Coast Guard Station, Blake’s Boatyard and Aquarium.) Turn right in 0.2 miles (sign pointing to Public Boat Ramp.)


Houghton Graves Park, Harpswell

This is a teensy walk, but pretty. It starts out through a little field and comes out at a view of Beal’s Cove. There is a place to have a picnic. The preserve is protected by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust.

Directions: Houghton Graves Park is located at 1714 Harpswell Islands Road, Orr’s Island. From Cook’s Corner in Brunswick, follow Rt 24 south for 11.9 miles. The park is on the right, opposite Lowell’s Cove Road. Park by the side of the road and follow the trail between the rail fence and the marsh.

Giant Stairs, Harpswell

This is a stunning, albeit short trail along a particularly dramatic part of Harpswell’s coast. The preserve is named for the Giant Stairs, a geological curiosity. The stairs look like blocks of darker rock, set within the flaky coastal rocks, which descend into the frothy sea. The trail is well marked, and offers easy footing.

Directions: Parking is located at 19 Ocean Street, Bailey Island. From Cook’s Corner in Brunswick, follow Rt 24 south for 14.5 miles, crossing the Cribstone Bridge. Turn left on Washington Ave. Park at the Episcopal Chapel at the intersection of Washington Ave and Ocean St (except during services) or at the four designated spots along Washington Ave.

Mt. Percival Preserve, Northport

Well, this 73-acre preserve certainly sounds like it was once quite a stunning destination! At the trailhead, the Coastal Mountains Land Trust has posted an ad from 1886 that is one of the best descriptions of a walk I’ve ever read: “[It’s a] most desirable and enchanting spot on earth…upon the Summit of MT. PERCIVAL, Northport, whose shores are washed by the Atlantic. Tourists from all quarters of the globe say the view from its summit is more ravishing than can be obtained from any other mountain.” And it continues.

Sadly, the tower tourists used to climb to see the “city and hamlets, mountains, forests, and fields, cattle, horses, and sheep…and the most beautiful bay in the world,” is in crumbles, with just the bottom stones remaining. And the growing forests block the view. The tower is about an easy .3-mile walk up through the woods.

Directions: From Camden via Route 1, follow Route 1 north. Approximately 5.4 miles north of Lincolnville Beach, turn right onto Saturday Cove Road. Turn left onto Shore Road. Follow to bottom of hill and turn left onto Upper Bluff Road. Follow Upper Bluff Road, past Nealey Road and stay right onto Bluff Road passing Pound Hill Road. After Pound Hill Road, follow Upper Bluff road about 1/2 mile. The preserve is on left across from 220 Upper Bluff Road. There isn’t much room to park on the side of the road. From Belfast via Route 1, follow Route 1 south. After passing the Little River, turn left onto the Bayside Road towards Bayside. Turn right onto the Upper Bluff Road at the golf course. Follow Upper Bluff Road to the top of steep hill (not open in winter). The preserve is on the right of Upper Bluff Road several hundred meters beyond the crest.

Marine Park, Waldoboro

I couldn’t resist including this walk because it’s so scenic, although the trails I found were really short! I think the 20-acre marine park is probably mostly used as a boat launch. One trail I found was a bit overgrown, but the little one that goes to the edge of the point is pretty.

Here’s a bit of info about the park, and about some other parks in Waldoboro.

Directions:  The Marine Park is 6.5 miles south of Route 1 near the lower end of Dutch Neck Road.

Canco Woods, Portland

This is a small woods, with a few trails and a small wetland area. According to Portland Trails, this little park and other urban forest like it provide crucial habitat and travel corridors for birds and animals, and absorb and filter storm water. The trails link up adjacent neighborhoods.

Directions: The trail can be accessed from Canco Road, or trailheads at the end of Frye, Rosedale or Torrey Streets.

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Hatchtown Preserve, Bristol

The trail makes two short loops on a little peninsula that juts out into Pemaquid River wetlands before the river flows into Boyd Pond. It’s pretty, and can be wet. The 35-acre preserve is protected by the Pemaquid Water Association. When I visited in spring of 2017, I picked up a lot of ticks.

Directions: The kiosk and trailhead is on Boyd Pond Lane, a narrow lane off of Sproul Hill Road in Bristol. The turn off to the lane is fairly close to Hatchtown Farm.

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Mike Michaud Walking and Biking Trail, Millinocket

This is an in-town paved trail, about 1.7 miles if you do the full loop. It’s really well done! And wheelchair accessible. More than half of it is paved trail along the river. The rest is along quiet residential sidewalks. The path is a nice tribute to Michael Michaud, a long-serving, well-respected congressman from East Millinocket. More info at Maine Trail Finder.

Directions: The best place to start is at Crandell Park, on Congress Street.

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Turkey Hill Farm Trail, Cape Elizabeth

This is an interesting Cape Elizabeth Land Trust 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.

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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Beach Plum Farm, Ogunquit

Beach Plum Farm, a former salt-water farm, is the headquarters of the Great Works Regional Land Trust and the site of a community garden. The public is welcome to make a half-mile stroll along the edges of the fields down to the salt marsh.

The address is 610 Main St, Ogunquit.

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Hardy Road Conservation Area, Falmouth

Map shows Hardy Road Conservation Area trails in green, and Pride Preserve trails in blue.

This is a well-blazed, short walk (under a mile of trails) in woods and fields (a former landfill). It’s pleasant, and a gift for people living nearby. Maintained by the Falmouth Land Trust.

The 63 acres of the Hardy preserve is connected to the 188 acres of Pride Preserve in Westbrook, creating a possible ~4.5-mile big loop.

(Note: We noticed in our visit during January, 2020, that part of the trail in the Hardy preserve had flooded (on the west side). So you had to cross a large icy area.)

Directions: The preserve is located off Hardy Road about 1/2 mile from Blackstrap Road. You can also park at the bigger lot off Duck Pond Road to access Pride Preserve.

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Hendricks Head Preserve, Southport

This is a .4-mile Boothbay Land Trust walk to do after looking at the sea from the beautiful beach, owned and managed by the town of Southport. Note that the trail ends at the small loop, and return the way you come. Dogs on a leash are allowed on the trail. Be mindful of protecting the privacy of nearby property owners.

Directions: From downtown Boothbay Harbor, head west on Route 27. Cross the Southport swing bridge and stay on Route 27 for two miles. Bear right at the monument by the Southport General Store onto Dogfish Head Road, then immediately left onto Beach Road. Go .3 miles, passing the entrance of the trail on the right. The land trust advises walkers to park at Hendricks Head Beach.

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Huston Landing, Damariscotta

Huston Landing includes a very short walk from the roadside parking spot, down a sloping bank (be mindful of watching for the tree blazes) to a wondrous view. The small preserve is maintained by the Damariscotta River Association. According to Maine Trail Finder, Huston Landing is named for the spot where, in 1740, the Huston family settled after landing just to the south.

Directions: From US Route 1 in Damariscotta head south on ME Route 129 for 1.6 miles. A preserve sign marks a small pull-off on the right.

Quarry Woods, Freeport

Quarry Woods offers a small wooded walk near the center of town and behind Mast Landing School. If you start at the school, first walk around a little fenced-in water retention pool to access the blazed trail heading into the woods. Soon, after crossing a rickety bridge, you’ll come to a blazed loop. Red blazes will take you counter-clockwise to the quarry, before the trail meets up with the green trail. Lots of bog bridges here, and easy to follow trail.

Directions: Follow Bow Street from downtown Freeport, and turn right onto Lower Mast Landing Road. A trailhead is located approximately .3 mile south, on the right by a woodchip pile. During non-school hours, the Woods may also be accessed from Mast Landing School on Bow Street. At the back of the School parking lot, visitors should pass the pond to find a trail behind it, leading into the woods.


Ocean Point Preserve, Boothbay

This small preserve has is an  almost 1-mile loop (maintained by the Boothbay Region Land Trust). Its high point is a view over a marshy habitat. Lots of bird song overheard here. The pond is very pretty as well.

Directions: From the junction of Route 27 and Route 96 at the light in Boothbay Harbor travel east on Route 96. Go 5.2 miles on Route 96 and turn right onto Van Horn Road and travel .3 miles, to a small parking area on your left. Parking is discouraged along the road.


Intervale Preserve, New Gloucester

This is a 1/2-mile walk, good for birding. The short loop takes you to some lookouts over the wetlands. Don’t do like I did and try to walk along the beaver path along the river — it’s rather steep and muddy. I didn’t see any when I was there in the spring of 2014, although I might have missed them since I wasn’t looking for them. I did see pretty carvings in the wood kiosks. More info at the Royal River Conservation Trust.

Directions: From the intersection of Intervale Road & Cobbs Bridge Road in New Gloucester Village, proceed south on ME 231 one mile and look for a blue sign on a kiosk on the left, just after crossing the first set of railroad tracks. From the other direction, proceed north on ME 231 several miles past Pineland Farms, and look for a blue sign on a kiosk on the right, 1/4 mile north of Woodman Road, after crossing one set of railroad tracks and immediately after crossing the Royal River, but just before the second set of tracks. Ample parking is available on the wide grassy shoulder of the road.

View Intervale Preserve in a larger map