The Libby Hill Forest in Gray, Maine, maintained by the Friends of Libby Hill, contains nine miles of multi-use trails, spanning properties owned by the Town of Gray, Mathew Morrill Trust, SAD 15, and the Gray Community Endowment (GCE). The parking area is not far off the Maine Turnpike and Route 26, located at 50 Libby Hill Road in Gray, and the trailhead is behind Gray-New Gloucester Middle School (see trail maps here). These trails are open year-round, and are designated differently based on width, terrain, and season for hikers, bikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoe travel.
On the July day we visited, we took the 3.1 mile Moose Odyssey Trail (white blazes), which loops through the center of the trail complex. This broad, winding path is carpeted by grass and pine needles, and wide enough in most places for two people to walk abreast, making it more of a social trail. The margins of the gently rolling trail are covered with wild blueberry and sweet fern.
The Libby Hill website contains a variety of maps on its Trail Maps page, including a digital smart phone map, Longest Day 5K race course map, individual trail descriptions and history, orienteering tour, Libby Farmstead tour, and a Tree ID Sign map, perfect for a 17-point scavenger hunt from American Beech (#3, #7) to Yellow Birch (#8). The forest abounds with birds, and we saw an Eastern Towhee close to the trail.
Once you are on the trail network, navigation is self-correcting, with laminated maps at each intersection. To the south, the Harold Libbey and Outback trails, accessible from the Moose Odyssey Trail near the Harold Libbey Memorial, continue over wetlands, and contain areas to look for wildlife, including beaver activity (according to the Libby Hill website, Harold’s father changed the spelling from Libby to Libbey to avoid being confused with two others with the same initials and last name). A note of caution – ticks can abound in the grassy areas, so be sure to take the appropriate precautions, and check yourself after the hike.
For pre- and post-hike snacks, there is a Hannaford at the end of Libby Hill Road, which according to the Libby Hill website, is the former site of William Libby’s Revolutionary War-era farm. For more outdoor activities, Libby Hill Forest is also in close proximity to the Maine Wildlife Park and Gillespie Farm (Pick Your Own).