Blueberry Ledges

Morning light, Abol Stream Trail, Baxter State Park, ME

Some trails at Baxter State Park are quieter than others, and Blueberry Ledges, on the south side of the park, approximately midway between Katahdin Stream Campground and Abol Beach, is a beautiful spot you just might have all to yourself. Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikers this close to Katahdin are unlikely to take side trails, and day-hikers are often focused on the more robust peaks to the north and east. The lollipop loop trail to Blueberry Ledges from the trailhead at the end of Abol Beach Road is a 6.6 mile hike (if you take the side trails like I did), using the Abol Stream Trail to briefly leave the Park, then pick up the Appalachian Trail (AT) northbound on the way out, and Abol Pond Trail on the return. On a bright mid-September morning, I used this route recommended by the book Hiking Maine’s Baxter State Park. The Blueberry Ledges are also accessible from the north by using the AT southbound from the Park Tote Road near Katahdin Stream Campground, an out-and-back hike of about three miles each way. The trails are all on the downloadable Kidney-Daicey map from Baxter State Park, and in my pack, as usual, was the durable Map Adventures’ Katahdin Baxter State Park Waterproof Trail Map.

Mount Katahdin from Abol Stream Trail, Baxter State Park, ME

I began by crossing the small bridge at the outlet of Abol Pond, following the trail along a wide, wooded floor dotted with colorful late-season mushrooms. The path rises on an esker above Abol Stream. A little over a quarter mile in, there’s a short side path along the stream, which dead-ends at a robust beaver dam, and after about .4 miles, a small sign-in kiosk for hikers. At about .7 and 1.1 miles are more turnouts with excellent views of Katahdin’s bulk rising clear and crisp over multi-colored marsh grasses. The trail at this point is an old woods road bounded by sweet fern and pine, and serenaded by the chattering of red squirrels and jays.

Appalachian Trail northbound near Abol Pond Trail, Baxter State Park, ME

As the marsh opened up wide to the right, I reached the junction with the Appalachian Trail and turned right, reaching to another kiosk and the re-entry to Baxter State Park, where a friendly Ranger awaited inbound entries off the Appalachian Trail, which he said had slowed for the season, with clumps of hikers every now and again making their last push to Katahdin. I took my leave and continued north, turning right (left would take you out to Abol Bridge) at an intersection after about 1.5 miles to stay on the AT, moving up through long, thin white birches. A fire danger sign at the intersection with the Abol Pond Trail yields a clue to a likely reason for the thin forest bounding the trail, as a 45-acre wildfire burned its way through here in May 2020.

Waterfall on Katahdin Stream south of Blueberry Ledges, Baxter State Park, ME

A massive boulder looking like a giant’s tooth sat to the right of the trail, and erratics that size and smaller peeked through the small trees on either side of the path, remnants of a glacial past. A little before two miles, I started hearing rushing water to the left and followed a small side trail towards the sound, finding some small Katahdin Stream waterfalls in what would be a nice place to dip in on a hot day. I returned to a trail that began to move uphill, then levelled out on a tree-lined ridge, with more side trails at about 2.6 miles and 2.8 miles leading down to waterfalls, with rocks treacherously slick from runoff, morning dew, spray, and algae.

Ledges off Appalachian Trail south of Blueberry Ledges, Baxter State Park, ME

As I approached the Blueberry Ledges spur trail, the reason for its name became immediately apparent, with wide expenses of exposed rock covered in berry bushes (to my admittedly untrained eye, they appeared however to primarily be huckleberry bushes, rather than blueberries, a guess I later confirmed through the Picture This application). Sparrows, chickadees, and red squirrels bounced around, feeding on the berries. The apex of the ridge led to a trail gently sloping downhill to the left, flowing to Katahdin Stream, lined by full berry bushes. These granite ledges, flat and sunny, bounded by berries, make for a perfect picnic spot. From here, you can listen to the birds and the rushing stream and enjoy the beautiful views across and down the stream.

Pool before dropoff on Katahdin Stream, Blueberry Ledges, Baxter State Park, ME

I returned downhill on the AT and turned left this time to complete the loop on the Abol Pond Trail. The path started with a gradual uphill climb before leveling out and becoming a narrow path through the deciduous forest. I then moved downhill over the rolling terrain, passing a woodland pond to the left, which sat improbably above the trail, thanks to a carefully woven web of branches, each bearing the trademark conical ends of beaver-chewed wood.

Blueberry Ledges, Baxter State Park, ME

After a short downhill run, the trail changed to a darker green, with more conifers lining its edges. I crossed the slippery Abol Stream, inadvertently dunking my trail runners, just before emerging onto Abol Beach Road. The trail itself continued across to connect with the Kettle Pond Trail, but I turned right and went back to my car, conveniently parked at the picnic area at Abol Beach, completing the easy loop in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. This is, however, a hike with plenty of spots to stop and picnic, explore, pick blueberries, or cool off in a chilly stream, and can easily be made into a full day.

Fat, ripe huckleberries on “Blueberry” Ledges, Baxter State Park, ME

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate Hiking in Maine blog earns from qualifying purchases.)

Schiller Coastal Studies Center Trails (Harpswell)

Spruce Fir-Forest Trail, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

Schiller Coastal Studies Center, a 118 acre preserve on Harpswell’s Orrs Island, is owned by Bowdoin College, with trails made open to the public (foot traffic only, dogs on leash) from dawn to dusk. We discovered this special place using Maine Trailfinder, and did an early September hike of just under 3 miles, seeing most of the peninsula in under an hour-and-a-half through a long loop using the Spruce Fir-Forest Trail, Dipper Cove Path, Pine Needle Path, Brewer Cove Trail, Long Cove Loop, and Stone Wall Walk. We planned and hiked this loop using the excellent printable map available on the Schiller Coastal Studies website, as well as at an information kiosk at the small parking area off Bayview Road (it’s hard to see, due to the map’s colors, but the Long Cove Loop does connect to the Stone Wall Walk to complete the circle).

Harpswell Sound by Dipper Path, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

We started by walking south on Bayview Road, turning right (west) onto the blue-blazed Spruce Fir-Forest Trail. This trail descended quickly through its namesake forest to Dipper Cove on Harpswell Sound, meeting the Dipper Cove Path (green blazes) to head north along the shoreline, with glimpses of the water peeking through the sunlit trees. We enjoyed broader high tide views from the rocky shore of the emerald water and Wyer Island. According to Schiller Coastal Studies’ trail guide, the footpath to access Wyer Island is open at low tide only. The descent to the shore and the return climb along the Dipper Cove Path are the only real elevation along this loop.

Terminus of Pine Needle Path, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

We moved through the sunny campus along the road to rejoin the Pine Needle Path to the point of the peninsula, where a rocky promontory guarded the entrance to Brewer Cove. Several students could be seen moving around the quiet campus. This amazing coastal property was deeded to Bowdoin College in 1981 by William (a Bowdoin graduate) and Irma Thalheimer, who continued to reside in the farmhouse there until their respective deaths in 1986 and 1994. The Center is named for Philip Schiller and Kim Gassett-Schiller, who more recently donated $10 million for laboratory and facility construction.

Late afternoon light, Brewer Cove Trail, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

A chair tucked into a large bush gripping the rocks appeared to be a quiet, secret study spot, seen only by mergansers gliding by across the flat surface of Brewer Cove. We returned south, briefly retracing our steps to get onto the Brewer Cove Trail (blue blazes), which skirted the bottom of the cove, then headed north at a stone wall. The Brewer Cove Trail hugged tight to the small ridge along the way to Dog’s Head, with views down to the sheltered waters of Brewer Cove throughout, past twisted cedar trees.

Dog’s Head views, Long Cove Loop, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

At the point of this peninsula, where the Brewer Cove Trail gives way to the Long Cove Loop (yellow blazes), a bench looks out over Dog’s Head and Harpswell Sound, where gulls, cormorants, and mergansers competed for territory. Here, we saw a small group of hikers heading back to the trailhead in the late-afternoon light. We paused briefly to enjoy the ocean views. The walk south along Long Cove seemed familiar, and looking at the map, it became apparent why – the Schiller Coastal Studies trails lie immediately across the Cove from the Devil’s Back Area Trails, which I explored previously on an unseasonably warm winter’s day. At a rocky open area in the trees, we heard, then saw, a pair of osprey wheeling overhead.

Bright yellow and green ferns, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

We headed uphill through evergreens and brightly colored changing ferns to pick up the Stone Wall Walk, the last leg of our loop. This trail passed a large section of blowdown trees and then moved through open fields. As we moved into the forest on the home stretch, I caught sight of a porcupine making its way out of the fields and across the trail. At our approach, it turned away from us, raising its tail toward us to telegraph its willingness to protect itself. The porcupine then lumbered through the pines, and made its way quickly up a tree, watching us from its perch as we walked back to the parking area.

Porcupine on Stone Wall Walk, Bowdoin’s Schiller Coastal Studies Center, Harpswell, ME

Winnick Woods Long Loop

Winnick Woods, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Winnick Woods is a 71 acre parcel of land owned by the Town of Cape Elizabeth, part of the Cape Elizabeth Greenbelt, which has a page with maps and a description. The trailhead is at a small gravel parking area with a map kiosk and space for eight vehicles off Sawyer Road. Be forewarned – the maps, including the ones posted along the trail, are not good ones. I used AllTrails to navigate an easy 3.8-mile Winnick Woods Long Loop that covered most of the preserve, and used the Cross Hill Trails to extend the hike, which took about an hour and forty minutes, with plenty of time to stop and examine the varied flora.

Stagnant pond, Winnick Woods, Cape Elizabeth, ME

This winds past some adjoining backyards, follows power lines in places, and crosses Cross Hill Road twice, but stays on established trails. Like many trails designed for mountain bikes, there are multiple twists and turns and intersections to maximize mileage and track length, which can be confusing for hikers and bikers alike. We encountered many mountain bikers and stepped briefly off the path to allow them to pass. The trail was also populated by trail runners and dog walkers.

Single-track through junipers on Winnick Woods Long Loop, Cape Elizabeth, ME

The trail begins with a wooded path (the White Trail), opening on a large meadow, where we saw (and heard) a large red-tailed hawk patrolling the skies above. We then turned left onto the Yellow Trail, which crosses the north side of a small, stagnant pond, and passes behind a neighborhood through a mixed forest. Throughout the early September hike, we saw a wide variety of berries, trees, shrubs, late summer flowers, colorful mushrooms, and birds. Regarding the fern family alone, we identified bracken fern, cinnamon fern, eastern hay-scented fern, Japanese painted fern, and Christmas fern. Nuthatches and brown creepers serenaded the woods and foraged along the tree trunks.

Winnick Woods Long Loop, Cape Elizabeth, ME

The marshy area to the east of the loop signals a move to higher ground along power lines, and the beginning of the Cross Hill Trails, lined with juniper and wildflowers. Here, a cacophony of catbird sounds greeted us in the lower-lying areas, before turning west and north to return to the Winnick Woods Trails, where the forest opens up to sunlight. A flat, easy walk brought us back to the start of the hike.

Winnick Woods Long Loop, Cape Elizabeth, ME

Stroudwater Trail

Stroudwater River, Stroudwater Trail, Portland, ME

Stroudwater Trail, part of Portland Trails’ extensive network, is a 3.3 mile one-way (6.6 mile out-and-back) path beginning at Rivers’ Edge Drive, off outer Congress Street, that primarily follows the slow, muddy, meandering Stroudwater River where Portland meets Westbrook, crosses Spring Street, and ends at Smiling Hill Farm. This trail is popular with trail runners and dog walkers. The full trail (see Portland Trails’ page) is unavailable from November 1 to April 1, as the area west from Portland’s Blueberry Road to Westbrook’s Cardinal Street is closed in the winter as a deeryard to provide a winter habitat for these animals.

Stroudwater Trail, Portland, ME

Stroudwater Trail is an island of green in a fairly developed area of Maine, and the sounds and smells of industry and transit permeate much of the walk. The trail crosses underneath I-95, and is flown over by Jetport air traffic, but still maintains intervals of peace and quiet. On a late June day, we saw a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey vertical takeoff/landing plane doing test flights overhead.

USMC Osprey flying over Stroudwater Trail, Portland, ME

The Rivers’ Edge Drive lot is very small, and parking in the surrounding neighborhood is unauthorized. Parking abounds on Hutchins Drive, but so do shifty characters waiting in idling cars, as this remote Portland spot is apparently a place frequented by men seeking brief, anonymous interludes with other men. Thankfully, this pursuit is likely harmless to other hikers and walkers. The trail itself is relatively easy and shaded, with switchbacks, stairs, and hills in spots, traveling through varied forest terrain, boardwalk bridges, and the grassy open areas created by power lines.

Stroudwater Trail, Portland, ME

A sign along the river marks the future location of a pedestrian bridge across the Stroudwater. Birds and seasonal wildflowers abound, particularly by the banks of the river. Unfortunately, insects also flourish in the late spring, so wear appropriate clothing or repellent. While Stroudwater Trail is not sufficiently remote to separate oneself from the bustle of modern life, for those working nearby or stranded at the Jetport, this easy trail presents a good way to get outside for a lunch break or a flight delay.

Stroudwater Trail, Portland, ME

Gear Review: KÜHL Hiking Shorts

We recently tested three pairs of KÜHL hiking shorts, two women’s and one men’s, at a trail by the Presumpscot River in Portland, Maine. KÜHL prides itself on “top-notch outdoor clothing for rugged and relentless adventurers, travelers, and outdoor enthusiasts,” and as we fit in at least one or two of those categories and probably aspire to some others, we tried them out. These shorts are a tad more expensive than some less durable brands, but a single pair will last you as long as 2-3 pairs of the lesser kind.

Women’s Hiking Shorts – KÜHL Cabo and Kontour

KÜHL Women’s Cabo short, color Mountain Air
KÜHL Women’s Cabo short, color Mountain Air

Mom’s review: The Kuhl Cabo short is versatile, durable and breathable. Post hike, just swap out hiking boots for a pair of sandals and change your sweaty t-shirt for a dry tank top and you can easily feel comfortable in a nice après hike lunch at a local cafe. This is my second pair of the Cabo and they wash so well, you can barely tell I have worn my first pair for years. They run bigger than the Kontour shorts and are substantially longer. They have a drawstring at the waist that you will need if ͑you are on the leaner side. Remarkably comfortable, cool and fast drying.

KÜHL Women’s Kontour short (4″ inseam), color Metal Blue
KÜHL Women’s Kontour short (4″ inseam), color Metal Blue

Daughter’s review: The Kontour short has a lean fit and is comfortable and minimalist. This short is fashionable, cool in warm weather, and comfortable. The stretch makes it easy to move and walk.

Find KÜHL women’s hiking shorts here.

Men’s Hiking Shorts – KÜHL Silencr Cargo

KÜHL Men’s Silencr Cargo Short (8″ inseam), color Gun Metal
KÜHL Men’s Silencr Cargo Short (8″ inseam), color Gun Metal

Dad’s review: According to KÜHL, their exclusive REFLEX fabric provides durability and stretch to the Silencr Cargo shorts, along with water resistance and maximum sun protection (UPF 50+). These were clearly positive attributes of these shorts, which were strongly constructed. The downside for me was that they are clearly designed for someone with a slimmer build, and at about 5’10” and 200 lbs, they were a bit more clingy than I prefer. That’s obviously a referendum on my own life choices, but I would likely pick a more relaxed fit for hiking. The tight fit made the cargo pockets less useful for me, as things like a phone or keys pulled on the fabric.

Find KÜHL men’s hiking shorts here.

Book Review: This Wild Land by Andrew Vietze

This Wild Land by Andrew Vietze

As humans, we can be dilettantes by nature, sifting through life by discarding difficulty and glamorizing what seems to be a simpler path. It’s not our fault – the world is too complex to completely understand, and shortcuts like this help our tiny brains operate and avoid pain. One of the ascendant thoughts that some keyboard warriors may cling to on Sunday nights (in the pre-work “scaries”) is the perceived freedom of being a park ranger. In the aptly-titled This Wild Land: Two Decades of Adventure as a Park Ranger in the Shadow of Katahdin by Andrew Vietze (AMC Books, 2021), the author, who is a former editor at Down East magazine, explores such a transition, relating stories from his time as a park ranger at Maine’s Baxter State Park.

Vietze skillfully cycles through stories over his twenty-year career involving the various and legendary animals at Baxter State Park, relating stories and history about deer (the original “Bambi”), moose, bear, beaver, the various blood-sucking insects, and their collective futures. The winter tick and habitat challenges facing the moose are particularly compelling. Baxter State Park is different in many ways from other state and national parks, due to the unique nature of its charter: as Vietze says, “Here, wildlife has dominion,” making recreation secondary to conservation. Vietze explores the essence of being the referee between human and wilderness, with the predictable ranges of experience and attitude on the human side. These are the most resonant and interesting of his stories, casting careless thru-hikers or overmatched tourists against the uncaring monolith of Maine’s North Woods. The takeaways? Be humble, carry water, and maybe go for a walk or two before you try Maine’s highest, most remote mountain. According to Vietze, fatigue is considered “causative” in 66 percent of the park’s medical calls.

The book dives into the history of park rangers, Baxter State Park, and the Appalachian Trail. The uneven relationship between the Park and the Appalachian Trail thru-hikers who view it as their finish line is the subject of several anecdotes, including a (tongue-in-cheek) “Navy SEAL” operation by rangers nabbing thru-hikers camping illegally.

My sole critique is one of expectation – not the author’s fault. When a journalist investigates a topic, it is dispassion which can make the writing true and clear. Norman Maclean’s father in A River Runs Through It encouraged him to write fiction, saying, “Only then will you understand what happened and why. It is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.” Vietze, currently a ranger, clearly loves and respects his co-workers at Baxter State Park, so the “inside scoop” about working at the park is elusive. This is forgivable, and by the end of the book, endearing. His critiques are mostly self-effacing. But there were likely very good stories and insights left on the cutting room floor due to kindness, loyalty, and discretion.

Vietze also explores the family dynamics of being a park ranger, and the inherent sacrifice of living in the wilderness in public service makes Vietze’s accounts of interactions with his sons and wife more poignant, as well as clarifying the shared bond between park rangers. In a nod to the current understanding regarding the stress on first responders, the book ties in the stories about death and near-death encounters with those of training and debriefs to help rangers cope with loss.

This Wild Land contains enough variety of experience to sustain multiple books, with each story existing as a vignette that could be otherwise examined from vectors of conservation and psychology. Written during the “Year of Covid,” this book reminds us why we cherish the wilderness, why it must be protected, and is a gift to anyone who enjoys Baxter State Park and the North Maine Woods.

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate Hiking in Maine blog earns from qualifying purchases.)

Long Mountain (Greenwood, ME)

Long Mountain views, Greenwood, ME

Long Mountain (1,828 ft), located in Greenwood Maine, partially within the 12,000-acre Crooked River Headwaters conservation land, is accessed by a relatively recently completed lollipop-type loop trail, opened in the fall of 2021. We hiked this loop, listed as 5.5 miles, in early July. Given the many spur trails to overlooks, my recorded mileage was a bit longer, about 5.8 miles, for a little over two and a half hours. The Long Mountain Trail is accessed from a trailhead with a relatively large parking area off Vernon Street in Bethel (GPS is 1268 Vernon Street, Bethel, ME) and diverges to the left from Bacon Hill single-track biking trails. The size of the parking lot owes to its former role as a log yard.

Board walkway, Long Mountain Trail, Greenwood, ME

A trail map is posted to the kiosk at the parking area, but difficult to find online. The trail itself is very well-marked and maintained, and I used the AllTrails app to navigate. As much of the summer of 2022 has been, it was a hot day, and the forested trail offered shade through much of the hike. The first part of the trail moves over a series of boardwalks through some marshy areas, then crosses a logging road by Mill Brook. Here at the edge of the road, we saw a large, tattered Luna moth near the end of its lifecycle.

Mill Brook, Long Mountain Trail, Greenwood, ME

The trail then moves upstream past clear, cool Mill Brook, which is covered in moss and flows through large rock slabs. At about .9 miles, the trail splits into a lollipop loop, which we took clockwise, heading up first to the North Ledge. This is a challenging hike, heading steadily uphill until levelling out a bit, and becoming a ridge hike between the North and South Ledges. Long Mountain does not have a cleared summit with views, but the viewpoints from the ledges are outstanding.

Continue reading

McGaffey Mountain

A Trail to summit of McGaffey Mountain.

McGaffey Mountain (1,288 ft), named for 19th century Mount Vernon resident Charles McGaffey, is the highest point in Kennebec County, and the trail to its wooded summit shares a Kennebec Highlands parking area in Rome with the trail to Round Top Mountain. The “A” Trail, a multi-use trail, diverges from the trail to Round Top a little less than a quarter mile in, in an unsigned left turn (Round Top Trail, however, is marked). It was quiet on the early July morning I visited, and I only saw two others, who were riding mountain bikes.

Flora along the A Trail, McGaffey Mountain, Rome, ME

I navigated using AllTrails, but a printable trail map is available from the 7 Lakes Alliance, which maintains the trails. A map is also inside the Maine Mountain Guide. AllTrails listed this hike as “Hard,” which relates to the distance (9.6 miles) and time, rather than the elevation. The A Trail is mostly unmarked, but provides a clear path, shared by mountain bikes. Like any mixed-used trail, it is graded relatively flat, and made to move quickly. At just under a mile, the trail crosses a logging road or ATV trail, and at about 1.3 miles, another old logging road, and passes over a moss-covered brook.

Viewpoint from A Trail, McGaffey Mountain, Rome, ME

The series of switchbacks heading up the mountain coincided with the beginning of hermit thrush songs. At about 3.3 miles, there is an open overlook looking east over Long Pond. The trail proceeds over rolling terrain, including sunlit boulders and blueberries, until reaching the summit, marked by the wooden handle of a tool protruding from a rock cairn.

Continue reading

Puzzle Mountain

Map kiosk, Puzzle Mountain parking area, Newry, Maine

Puzzle Mountain (3,133 ft) in Newry, Maine, is a lollipop-style loop hike incorporating the Grafton Loop Trail and the Woodsum Trail, for an approximately 7.7 mile hike with expansive western Maine views, including Sunday River. The mountain is supposedly named after the discovery of a soft vein of rock on the mountain that was subsequently lost, making it a puzzle. Parking is available at a medium-sized parking area off Route 26, with a map kiosk. A map is available from the Mahoosuc Land Trust, which manages the 485 acres of Stewart Family Preserve land on which Puzzle Mountain sits. A detailed description is also available in the venerable Maine Mountain Guide.

Morning sun, Grafton Loop Trail, Puzzle Mountain

The blue-blazed trail crosses an ATV trail and then after about a quarter mile, a logging road, until beginning to climb by a small stream cascading down. Due to recent late May rains, the trail was slippery and the streams in the surrounding woods seemed to multiply. I knew this presaged a slippery trail with lots of bugs, and the clouds of mosquitoes were unrelenting. Clear spring streams criss-crossed the trail, which was a spooky green tunnel in the morning fog of beech leaves, birch, and hobblebush, with toads hopping out of the way.

A Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) register box was there to log the hike a little over 3/4 of a mile in. The sun began to light the way and changed the tunnel to an emerald forest, with trillium and other wildflowers dotting the sides of the trail, awaiting full bloom. This green deciduous forest ended abruptly as the trail circled a ridge with viewpoints over the valley surrounding the Bear River, switching to rocks, moss, and pine.

Viewpoint, Grafton Loop Trail, Puzzle Mountain
Continue reading

Reid State Park Loop

East Beach, Reid State Park, Georgetown, ME

Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine is at the southeast corner of the long coastal peninsula formed by the Kennebec River to the west and the Sheepscot River to the east. In 2015, Reid’s popular beaches were named #1 in New England for surfing by the Boston Globe. The fee for day use of Reid State Park, payable at the entry gate, is $6 for Maine residents, $8 for non-residents, and $2 for non-resident seniors. We visited at the tail-end of the winter season, enjoying the peace and quiet. As the parking lot at Todd’s Point was not yet open, we parked by the East Beach, and began our hike there, moving in an easy 4.8 mile clockwise loop covering Reid State Park’s best features in about two hours. The park does have a map, accessible from a link on the state park website. This map, though no doubt made available by a dedicated public servant, is terrible for hiking. First, know that the official map is upside-down, meaning north is at the bottom. Additionally, no trails are listed. Below is a screenshot of the correctly-oriented All Trails route we took, with helpful labels added by daughter.

The East Beach has a group picnic site overlooking the ocean, with a large shelter from the sun or inclement weather. Paths connect picnic sites, but to start our hike, we walked south along Griffith’s Head Road, crossing a small tidal inlet of the Sheepscot, where a red-breasted merganser rode the current foraging for food. We quickly arrived at Griffith Head, with the buildings shuttered for the winter (note: a pit toilet here was the only open winter bathroom). We walked down a stone staircase to Mile Beach, and the sun, sea air, and the sound of the waves filled the next mile of our walk along the sand.

Mile Beach from Griffith Head, Reid State Park, Georgetown, ME

The rocky promentory of Todd’s Point rises above the water, with a short climb yielding great views in all directions. Here, the bathing facilities were shuttered, as well, with the empty parking lots between Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach roped off until the summer season. We looked briefly at Half Mile Beach, then walked behind the dunes on a spur trail between the beach and the Little River, emerging with a long view towards Popham Beach.

Half Mile Beach, Reid State Park, Georgetown, ME
Continue reading