Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR), comprised of separate divisions in the Downeast towns of Baring and Edmunds, is almost 30,000 acres of federally protected land. In mid-August, we stopped by the larger Baring Division, just south of the border outpost of Calais, to walk the trails near the MNWR Headquarters. The trails listed as Headquarters Trails are relatively short (see MNWR HQ trail map), but the .3 mile Woodcock Trail is handicap accessible. For those with substantial mobility issues (including tired, overheated children), viewing areas are located on Charlotte Road, and the eastern part of Moosehorn Baring is an Auto Tour option (just cross Charlotte Road from the Headquarters and follow signs on Goodall Heath Road), with views of beaver ponds, marshes, and meadows. You can also check out one of our favorite books, Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path for an alternate loop option from the Headquarters.
We consulted the larger map, and chose to create our own loop on the quiet logging roads of Moosehorn NWR, heading west from the Headquarters to the Trailhead area, then south on Mile Bridge Rd and Hanson Pit Rd, and back north on Two Mile Meadow Rd. This skirted a closed area (labeled the Greenway Trail on AllTrails) in the center of the loop. This made for about 3.5 miles, which took about an hour or so. These lightly-traveled roads are level and grassy, closed to vehicles, with space for two to walk side-by-side in the former wheel ruts. They are, however, thick with mosquitoes and biting flies, so plan ahead with repellent and/or clothing. As we turned on Mile Bridge Road, we were even dive-bombed by a large, misguided cicada.
We saw a garter snake, wildflowers, many small songbirds, and heard the cartoonish call of a pileated woodpecker. We were late in the wild berry season, but still saw abundant roadside blueberry and blackberry bushes. Interpretive signs along the route discussed topics like prescribed burns, vernal pools, beaver ponds, and wetlands. Eagles and woodcocks highlight the brochures and nature logs here. The trails themselves were pleasantly empty, with a few gaggles of people near the trailhead. We look forward to exploring more of Moosehorn NWR’s quiet wilderness area, and maybe bird-watching during the late spring migration season.
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