Let’s count our blessings. We’re very fortunate to live in a beautiful area abundant with many preserves and land trusts free to explore and enjoy. Being outdoors under a blue sky in the fresh air and sunshine is good for you. It doesn’t cost any money, relieves stress and helps you sleep better, too. Walking or hiking is something nearly everyone can do at almost any age. It’s also a great family activity.
Here are a few places close to home I’ve hiked that are suitable for all ages:
Ovens Mouth Preserve, part of Boothbay Region Land Trust, is on a wooded peninsula. If you could see it from high in the sky, it would look somewhat like a lobster claw, rather fitting for the Boothbay region.
There are two halves of the 146-acre preserve to hike, each with its own entrance and linked together by a footbridge spanning a peaceful tidal inlet. The entire trail system is over three miles long, so you may want to explore it on separate days, starting with the shorter and much easier “Eastern Shore Loop.” Its entrance and parking area are off Dover Road.
The parking area for the western half is off Dover Cross Road. There are several trails here; the “Shore Loop” is the longest and starts and finishes at the kiosk.
On Route 27 headed to Boothbay Center, take Adams Pond Road on the left by Cottage Connection, and then the first right onto Dover Road. This brings you to the eastern entrance of the preserve. Bearing left on Dover Cross Road takes you to the preserve’s western entrance. To learn more, visit www.bbrlt.org
Taking in the view for the very first time at the summit of the Beech Hill Preserve in Rockport is awe-inspiring. This scenic preserve is part of Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Visiting it makes for a nice morning or afternoon day trip. From the Wiscasset-Boothbay Region it’s about a 50-minute drive north. The easiest way to get there is to follow Route 1 through downtown Rockland to Rockport.
Once you’re in Rockport, you’ll want to make a left turn onto South Street across from the entrance to Glen Cove Inn. Where South Street forks, bear right and continue until you come to Beech Hill Road. Turn right here. You’ll soon see a small wooden sign on the right marking the preserve’s entrance.
The “Summit Road Trail” begins as a narrow path winding through the woods alongside a tumbling stone wall. After a short walk, it ends at a gravel road that takes you to the top of the hill.
It’s a short, easy walk rising gradually to the summit, 3/4 of a mile according the preserve’s brochure. At the top is “Beech Nut,” a stone cottage with its very unique sod roof. From its veranda, you can admire the scenery for miles around and learn some of the building’s history from an informational sign.
Beech Hill rises 533 feet and offers beautiful views of Rockport Harbor, Mount Battie, the Camden Hills and Penobscot Bay. On a clear day, you can see Owls Head in Rockland and far behind it Vinylhaven Island on the horizon. Bring along a set of binoculars.
For details, visit www.coastalmountains.org
There’s no better way to start or end the day than by taking a calming walk in the woods. Kennebec Estuary Land Trust’s Green Point Preserve in West Bath offers the perfect place. Its one, half-mile path carries you through a grove of majestic northern pines over a small hill and to the shore of Brigham’s Cove on Winnegance Bay. While you’re there, see if you can find an unusual rock carving of an anchor in the ledge.
The trail which is very easily followed was dry most of the way during our recent visit.
From Bath, follow Route 209, bear right at Winnegance Store onto High Street, which becomes Campbell Pond Road. Turn right onto Birch Point Road; the preserve entrance is on the left a mile down the road. To see more, go to www.kennebecestuary.org
Bass Falls Preserve in Alna is a vast stretch of property with meadowland and a forest. The preserve borders the roiling upper waters of the Sheepscot River. Part of Midcoast Conservancy, the preserve is off Route 218 in Alna, 7.2 miles north of the Wiscasset Post Office.
There’s one main trail leading into and out of the preserve along with several challenging side trails to explore. Staying on the main path brings you to a rustic fishing cabin overlooking the river. From the cabin, a secondary trail carries you along the river shore where you’ll discover some calmer waters and nice places for picture-taking. Mallard ducks and mergansers can often be seen here.
A short distance away is an earthen dike, where in the springtime a small waterfall spills from a pond. Be prepared for a fair amount of up and down walking and some mud, too! The longest stretch is the final leg walking uphill back through the meadow to the parking area. To learn more, go to www.midcoastconservancy.org
Phil Di Vece earned a B.A. in journalism studies from Colorado State University and an M.A. in journalism at the University of South Florida. He is the author of three Wiscasset books and is a frequent news contributor to the Wiscasset Newspaper and Boothbay Register. He resides in Wiscasset. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org