Posted on July 19, 2022 and last updated on July 25, 2022

Vining Lake Community Preserve, Cooper and Cathance Township


  • Preserve Size: 407 acres
  • Trail Mileage: 3.2 miles in network
  • Pets: yes
  • Difficulty: easy to moderate
  • Sights: bogs and fens, woodland, remote lake

This is an amazing place protected by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy. I love that it’s called a community preserve, such a welcoming name, and it reflects a history of people enjoying the pond even when it was under private ownership. The 407-acre preserve offers a lot, including a 1.6-mile loop trail around the undeveloped 26-acre lake. The trail brings you through forest, including a bright section of open pine woodland. You can take a 0.4-mile spur to a fabulous swimming spot where smooth(ish) ledges slope into the refreshing lake water.

There is also a boat launch and metal dock close to the large parking area, where canoes have been locked up and left. Contact the Downeast Coastal Conservancy if you would like to borrow one.

The roughly 2.5-mile loop trail, if you are walking it clockwise, begins at the main parking lot and trailhead kiosk, behind a gate. Follow a dirt road for a short ways and look out for a trail sign and footpath on your right. Then you’ll make your way around the pond and wetlands on a well-blazed path, eventually emerging back onto a dirt road that you can follow to the parking lot. Keep your eyes peeled for a 0.4-mile footpath to the swimming hole on your right.

Directions: From Route 191, turn into Vining Lake Road, which is 16.3 miles from the intersection of Route 191 and Route 1 in East Machias, or 17.8 miles from the intersection of Route 191 and Route 1 in Baring. Continue 0.4 mile; stay left at the Y in the road to the large parking lot. There is more parking closer to the boat launch, too.


Let me know if you have any trail updates or corrections!