Moosehorn NWR Loop (Baring)

Mile Bridge Road, Moosehorn NWR, Baring, ME

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.

Milkweed and wildflowers, Two Mile Meadow Road, Moosehorn NWR, Baring, ME
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Wabassus Mountain (T43 MD BPP)

Wabassus Mountain trailhead, Washington County, ME

It’s not easy to get to Wabassus Mountain (844 ft), part of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) in central Washington County. We stopped there to hike this short (1.5 mile total out/back) trail off Wabassus Mountain Road on the way to Grand Lake Stream. Township (T) 43 Machias District (MD) of Bingham’s Penobscot Purchase (BPP) is the clunky name of the mountain’s location, a naming remnant of old Massachusetts maps used to delineate areas of land survey. For detailed driving directions from Route 9, check out the DLLT Visitor Guide or the Maine Mountain Guide. Or use your Maine Gazetteer the way it was intended (see Map 35). Either way, don’t rely on cellular signal-based GPS, because you won’t have it. A small (2-3 vehicle) parking area is immediately on the left before the trailhead.

Wabassus Mountain trail, Washington County, ME
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Ingersoll Point Preserve (Addison)

Ingersoll Point Preserve, Addison, ME

Sometimes Downeast Maine, particularly Acadia, can feel overrun by an invading force in the late summer, one equipped with out-of-state SUV’s and brand-new hiking gear. Even the formerly lesser-known Bold Coast oases of Lubec and Cutler seem to be, well, a little compromised in the crush of tourists seeking an authentic Maine experience. Ingersoll Point Preserve in Addison is a 145 acre corner of forest and ocean that has maintained its quiet pine coast aesthetic, thanks to its location, and the stewardship of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy. Trail maps and a brochure can be found on their website, or in the excellent book Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path. Trailhead parking is at the rear of the South Addison Community of Christ Church at 316 Moosehorn Road in Addison, marked by a sign.

Adler Woods Trail, Ingersoll Point Preserve, Addison, ME
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Pride Preserve (Westbrook, ME)

Pride Preserve, Westbrook, Maine

Pride Preserve in Westbrook, Maine, is a beautiful newborn 188 acre forest and wetlands preserve, opened in 2020 and owned and managed by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) (see map and info here). According to PRLT, it is “the largest conserved forestland in urban greater Portland.” The 3.5 miles of trails on the Preserve connect to Falmouth’s 63-acre Hardy Road Conservation Area trails. Parking is located in a lot off Duck Pond Road, as well as overflow on the side of Duck Pond Road itself. The 1 mile and 1.5 mile loop trails, joined by a connector, lead to a .5 mile out-and-back spur, and there are ponds, cascading streams, meadows, and a historic cemetery.

Blue Loop Trail, Pride Preserve, Westbrook, Maine
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Fish River Falls (Fort Kent)

Entry to Fish River Falls Trail at the end of the runway, Fort Kent Municipal Airport

The Fish River, popular with fishermen and boaters, completes its run north to the St. John River in Fort Kent in a line roughly parallel to Route 11 in Aroostook County, Maine. This portion of the road, beginning at Portage Lake to the south, is the Fish River Scenic Byway. According to a link on the site of the Northern Door Inn, a quiet, clean hotel where we spent a couple nights, locals bring inner tubes to the base of Fish River Falls to float down the approximately four miles to Fort Kent. But even if you don’t have the time or equipment to navigate this stretch, the hike to Fish River Falls is an easy twenty to forty minute round trip with great views.

Descending Fish River Falls Trail, Fort Kent, ME
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Burnt Meadow Mountain (Brownfield, ME)

Descending from North Peak via the Twin Brook Trail, Burnt Meadow Mountain, Brownfield, ME
Descending from North Peak via the Twin Brook Trail, Burnt Meadow Mountain, Brownfield, Maine

Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield, Maine, is a favorite hike of ours in all seasons, including when daughter was much younger. Brownfield is less than an hour from Portland, and during mid-late summer, the wild blueberries all the way to the summit make for a pleasant distraction and motivator for younger children. In winter, the moderate climb through vanished foliage yields great views of the White Mountains.

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Baldface Circle Trail (Chatham, NH)

Bicknell Ridge and beyond, from Baldface Circle Trail, Chatham, NH

The Baldfaces (North and South) are a difficult but rewarding hike just over the (Maine) border in Chatham, NH, part of the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). I used the Baldface Circle Trail, with stops at the spur for Emerald Pool, and a short diversion through Chandler Gorge, for a challenging 10.1 mile clockwise “lollipop” loop that took a little under five hours, and hit the peaks of South Baldface (3,570 ft) and North Baldface (3,610 ft). To navigate, I used my well-worn AMC White Mountain Guide, with the Baldface Loop on Map 5. A digital map is also available on the WMNF U.S. Forest Service site. The well-maintained parking area (with toilets) is located on NH route 113 in Chatham, with parking for approximately fifteen cars, and is usually full on summer days and weekends.

Emerald Pool, Baldface Circle Trail, WMNF, Chatham, NH
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Peaks Island Loop

Casco Bay Lines Ferry Terminal, Portland, Maine

What is a hike, really, but a long walk, preferably in the countryside? Sometimes the sense of getting away can be amplified by the journey to get to the hike’s starting point, whether it be a long drive through strange places, a bus ride, or in this case, a boat trip. While it may seem hard to escape the (relative) bustle of Maine’s largest city, a 4-mile loop with birds, flowers, and ocean vistas is only seventeen minutes away via Casco Bay Lines. Like Moosehead’s Mount Kineo, this hike begins after a short ferry ride, a trip across Portland Harbor to Peaks Island, part of the city of Portland. The Casco Bay Lines Terminal is located at 56 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine, and the ferry schedule is posted here. As of May 2021, round-trip tickets are $7.70 for adults (14 and over), $3.85 for kids/seniors/disabled, and free for children under 5. You can bring bikes for a small fee, or rent them on-island (golf carts can also be rented, but that’s not hiking). The voyage from Portland to Peaks allows views of Fort Gorges, the harbor, seabirds, and occasional seals.

Rugosa roses and view of Cushing Island from Peaks Island, Maine
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Evergreen Trails (Portland, ME)

Evergreen Loop Trail, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine

Evergreen Cemetery in Portland is Maine’s second largest, checking in at 239 acres. The combination of green space habitat and (relative) solitude make it a popular birdwatching and walking area, located directly behind the University of New England (UNE) Portland Campus. The small ponds at the northwest edge of Evergreen are places to observe tadpoles, frogs, newts, turtles, snakes, large snapping turtles, and waterfowl throughout the warmer seasons. In addition to the paved, gravel, and dirt roads of the cemetery itself, Evergreen is traversed by Portland Trails’ extensive network, including the 10-mile Forest City Trail, which runs from the Presumpscot River to the Stroudwater.

Ledges in Evergreen Woods, Evergreen Cemetery, Portland, Maine
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Step Falls Preserve (Newry, ME)

Afternoon sunlight on Wight Brook, Step Falls Preserve, Newry, Maine

Step Falls Preserve is a twenty-four acre parcel hugging the banks of Wight Brook in Newry, Maine. We visited at the beginning of May, during a road trip to see waterfalls during the spring melt. In the summer months, the shallow pools and falls are refreshing places to cool off with a dip, wade, or swim. Parking is available in a lot off Bear River Road/Route 26. The 3/4 mile trail to the top of the falls is fairly easy, with some roots and steep spots towards the end. Due to the popularity of this spot, it often fills up quickly on weekends and nice summer days.

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