QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 789 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~6 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: The Basin, remnants of former quarrying, Old Harbor Pond, high rocky ledge
Map shows four trail systems in the Basin Preserve: Granite Island trail is blue; Wharf Quarry Road trail is red; Folly Pond trail is green; and Platform trail is yellow.
At Vinalhaven’s Basin Preserve, you have a choice of several trails, exploring different parts of the beautiful 789-acre protected area. The Basin itself is a 360-acre tidal bay. All together there’s about six miles of trails in the network.
Ralph and Peggy Williams Preserve trail (off Wharf Quarry Road): My map showed the loop to be 1.8 miles, which includes a couple of nice spots on the shore, accessible via short side paths. (This number doesn’t include the .3-mile access road, which some will be able to drive.) If you do the trail loop clockwise, you’ll come to a fantastically high and open rocky area close to the end of your walk. The trail first takes you underneath the cliff to its northern end, but then it turns right, and after a short scramble up, you’ll come out onto open ledge spotted with pitch pine, where you can look down on the area you just came from and see the bay between the treetops. Directions: Wharf Quarry Road, which is about three miles from town, can be very rough, so drive carefully with a high-clearance car. (Google maps doesn’t seem to know where Wharf Quarry Road is.) After reaching the road, turn left and go 3/10 of a mile where you’ll see a place to park and the trail to the left. A goat farm on Wharf Quarry Road asks you to keep your dog on a leash.
Watershed Preserve (off Folly Pond Road): A 1.5-mile trail takes you through forest, including Maritime Spruce-Fir, to a high pitch-pine woodland on rock ledge, and back again. (When we visited, the private access road continuing on straight ahead was well trampled, making us wonder whether the views at the end were a local attraction?) Directions: Turn onto Folly Pond Road and go .3 miles. The kiosk will be on your left when the road bends to the right and turns into a driveway. Continue straight up the rough track ahead for 500 feet until it splits. Bear left and follow an old woods road until you reach the footpath, and the start of the loop. This point is .4 miles from the trailhead. The footpath will head uphill to your right, and is marked with a sign.
Granite Island Trail Loop: Perhaps this is the most popular of the four trails in the Basin Preserve? It seemed to have the most foot traffic. Two short loops include spots to enjoy views of The Basin. It’s just .3 miles from the parking lot to the shore, and there are roughly 1.2 mile of trails in the network. When we visited, we saw at least nine or ten juvenile bald eagles hanging out, seemingly together, with a few more mature ones nearby. Directions: Take Old Harbor Road out of town for 2.25 miles to the parking area on the right.
Platform Loop Trail: This trail is the longest of the four, with a roughly 2.1-mile loop. It includes diverse habitat and a platform with a view through trees of the basin, recommended at sunset. A .4-mile side trail takes you to a .3-mile loop to views of Old Harbor Pond and a sweet stream and little waterfall. Directions: Take Old Harbor Road out of town and look for the trailhead on your right in 1.5 miles. There is a small pullover area lined with rocks where you can leave your car.
(Side note: As a West Bath resident who lives close to another magnificent Basin Preserve in Phippsburg, I am beginning to think people should perk up at the mention of a basin in the context of walking trails.)