Exploring the Midcoast

Colby Wildlife Preserve in East Edgecomb

Posted:  Sunday, November 1, 2015 - 7:30am

Fall is here and with the changing of the seasons come shorter, cooler days and excellent trail hiking featuring bright colors and spectacular scenery in the Boothbay-Wiscasset region.

One hike suitable for any age and close to home is the Colby Wildlife Preserve, a part of the Boothbay Region Land Trust. This is an ideal place for a short but enjoyable hike or walk through the forest to a sheltered cove on Damariscotta River.

Getting there is easy. It’s about seven miles from Wiscasset village. Take Route 1 across the Davey Bridge and then make a right onto Route 27 headed to Boothbay. Just past Edgecomb Potters you’ll want to make a left onto McKay Road which carries you through some scenic countryside. The turnoff comes up fast and is just past the curve.

On McKay Road you’ll pass the parking area and kiosk for the River Link Trail featured in the Oct. 1 edition of the Wiscasset Newspaper. Continuing on you’ll soon come to a stop sign on the River Road; turn left, the Colby Preserve is exactly a half-mile down the road on your right. It’s marked with a sign but comes up fast.

A small kiosk offers information about the preserve, rules and a little information about the area’s history. The trail is an old tote road on the right and is blazed in white. It’s hard-packed and easily followed. On my last visit, I met a young mother who was out for a morning walk with her daughter and the family dog. The trail runs due east through the woods. Just off to the right is a fairly high rocky ridge that was logged out years ago.

I found the path heavily carpeted with gold and brown leaves. Although it’s the end of October, the woods are still surprisingly dry. The way leads you directly east and eventually to the water and a beautiful cove on Damariscotta River.

It was low tide during both my visits. Walking along the shore, I found a few chunks of orange and blackened bricks worn smooth by the coming and going of the tide. This inlet is known as Salt Marsh Cove and long ago was a thriving manufacturing center in the 19th century. Once upon a time there was a saltworks here and also a grist mill. Lumber was milled too, cut by an old-fashioned up-and-down saw and shipped from nearby Poole’s Landing just south of here. When those industries faded away, a brickworks opened and ice was cut and harvested during the winter. Nearly all traces of these early enterprises have completely vanished.

I searched along the shore looking for a ring bolt where scowls and lighters would tie on to. They’re fairly easy to find pinioned into the ledge and offer a clue where, in bygone days, a landing might have been located. Instead I discovered a good deal of sea lavender here. This plant that grows along the mudflat is often used in floral arrangements, although these specimens had lost much of their color having already gone by for the season.

Returning to the path, it gradually loops around and heads back to the parking area. A downed tree limb blocked the path at one point but was easy enough to climb over. Along with the white blaze marks on the trees there’s also small green and white BRLT signage to keep you on the path as it winds and twists its way back through the woods. The only tricky area is where the path crosses a small, rock-strewn rivulet, dry when I visited.  It’s easy enough to hop across but probably should be bridged.

Remember when you’re hiking in October and November you should wear a blaze orange vest or hat. Many land preserves permit hunting on their properties. No hunting is permitted anywhere in the state of Maine on Sundays.

Although the weather is cooler, 43 on the morning of my hike, deer ticks are still a concern because of Lyme disease. I didn’t find any ticks on me following my hike but had worn an insect repellent as a precaution.

In 1994, the property that became the Colby Wildlife Preserve was donated to the Boothbay Region Land Trust in memory of Kitzi Colby of Edgecomb. The 12-acre parcel was a gift of Mrs. Colby’s daughters, Joanna Cameron and Anni Black.

The preserve is open year-round and is free of charge. No overnight camping or open fires are permitted here. Dogs are permitted but should always be leashed during hunting season. For additional information about the Colby Wildlife Preserve and other BRLT properties go to: www.bbrlt.org.