The Devil’s Back Trail area in Harpswell, Maine, is another jewel managed by the Town of Harpswell. This rugged but narrow area straddles Route 24 on the way to Orr’s Island, with the east side overlooking Gun Point Cove, and the west on Long Cove. The Town of Harpswell has descriptions and a trail map here, and there is an excellent treatment of this hike in Maine Hikes off the Beaten Path.
The trails depart from a small parking lot, and contain matching butterfly wing or infinity loops (whichever comparison you prefer) on each side of 24, totaling about 2.5 miles (I take every side trail and viewpoint). I started to the east on a January morning, descending the winding and narrow path to immediate ocean views on the Gun Point Cove Loop. The path was empty, with only the sound of the crashing winter waves and I watched a variety of seabirds bobbing slowly up and down on the tide.
Recent storms seemed to have resulted in some blowdowns on the north side of the east portion, but the trail was otherwise clear. I frequently saw small deer tracks in the muddy margins and curves. The shore was covered with quartz-encrusted rocks, and the breeze off the water on the Seal Rock trail carried the smell of pine from recent trail work.
Crossing over Route 24 to descend to the Byles Point and Otter Creek trails of the western loop, the views remained peaceful and expansive. After turning south, a brief ascent led to moss-covered stonewalls, cedar trees, red squirrels, and chipmunks in a surprisingly green (for January) forest. Healthy ferns, emerald moss, and evergreens in abundance lined the trail as it looped back to the intersection and finish line at the parking area, a little less than an hour total.
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