Originally published in Seasonal Guide, January 10, 2013
Hiking and walking in winter
There are many trails, parks or other public areas to stroll around in our area. Some are easily accessible in winter, and others are more challenging to reach once, or if, snow has fallen.
If nature offers us another mild winter, the trails listed in full online at penobscotbaypress.com/visitors will be available for use, as parking and access won’t be an issue.
All of the trails managed by Island Heritage Trust and Blue Hill Heritage Trust are open in the winter, though none of the trails are groomed. Witherle Woods, managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, is also open for winter use, and Holbrook Island Sanctuary on Cape Rosier in Brooksville maintains some parking areas for winter trail use.
Some are suitable for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, some are not. None of the trails are available for use by motorized vehicles such as ATVs or snowmobiles.
Hikers should use caution during the winter, said Adam Bishop, BHHT’s Conservation Lands Manager. Rocks can be slippery with ice and snow.
The view from the top of Blue Hill Mountain is lovely during all seasons, said Bishop. He also suggests those looking for even quieter trails and routes to check out the trails at the Kingdom Woods Conservation Area.
Executive Director for IHT Mike Little said the fields at Scott’s Landing are good for cross-country skiing after a hike through the initial woods. Places such as the Settlement Quarry and Shore Acres are recommended for snowshoeing.
The few trails listed here are those with trailheads that are kept plowed or accessible when there is only a little snow. For a full list of area trails, visit our website at penobscotbaypress.com/visitors.
^Denotes trails maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, bluehillheritagetrust.org.
*Denotes trails maintained by Island Heritage Trust, islandheritagetrust.org.
^Blue Hill Mountain. In Blue Hill, take Rte. 15 north to Mountain Rd. Follow Mountain Rd. to top of the hill and park. The mountain is 934 feet high and provides views of the surrounding area, from the Camden Hills to Acadia National Park. Two trails start on the Mountain Rd. and end at the summit. The Osgood Trail (0.9 miles) on Blue Hill Heritage Trust property provides a more leisurely hike up through the forest. The Hayes Trail (0.7 miles) starts in the large field owned by the Town of Blue Hill and heads up a steep rock staircase. The least steep but longest path up the mountain is the radio tower access road (0.7 miles) which departs from the Hayes Trail at the top of the field. See feature story in this guide. The Hayes Trail parking lot is plowed.
^Kingdom Woods Conservation Area. 878 acres of protected wetland and forest that provide access to undeveloped Fourth Pond. The main trailhead is 1 mile from Rte. 177 on the south side of the Kingdom Rd. A half-mile further down the Kingdom Rd. a second parking area marks the start of a family-friendly, flat nature trail loop (0.5 mile). Not plowed, but can be accessible depending on snow conditions, said Adam Bishop.
^Peters Brook trail. Peter’s Cove and Peter’s Brook Trail, Rte. 172 to East Blue Hill Rd., then 0.6 mile; parking on roadside. Shore access, picnicking. Parking and plowing is not guaranteed in winter.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary, from Blue Hill, Rte. 15 to Rte. 175, then left on Rte. 176; follow brown signs. System of nine trails on both sides of Falls Rd., 0.7 to 2 miles, from beginner to strenuous, encompassing beach, mud flats, rocky coast, mixed woodlands, wetlands, meadows; abundant wildlife. Trails may be used for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Witherle Woods Preserve, Rte. 166 from Penobscot, right on Battle Ave. to near end of road. A preserve of 185 acres of old-growth woods, beginner to moderate, 4.2 miles of trails. Some trails date back to colonial times, and the Woods saw military action during the Revolutionary War and the war of 1812. Great for cross-country skiing when conditions permit. For more information, visit mcht.org.
Deer Isle and Stonington
*Scott’s Landing, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 just after the causeway, across from Causeway Beach. Twenty acres of fields, scenic vistas and shorefront, easy trails. The parking lot for Scott’s Landing is plowed.
*Settlement Quarry, Stonington. Rte. 15 to Oceanville Rd., then 0.9 mile on the right. Short trails and old quarry roads through former granite quarry, 2 miles total. Informational signs describe granite quarrying and geology of area. The road to and parking lot for Settlement Quarry is plowed.
*Shore Acres Preserve, Deer Isle. Rte. 15 to Sunshine Rd. south of Deer Isle village; travel Sunshine Rd. for 1.2 miles, bear left onto Greenlaw District Rd., then 0.9 mile to parking area (plowed in winter). Moderate, 1.5 mile loop, uneven terrain through woods and along shore. Spectacular views of Greenlaw Cove and Campbell Island.
Isle au Haut
Accessible via mail boat ferry, departing from the bottom of Seabreeze Ave. in Stonington. Check isleauhaut.com for the fall/winter schedule. The ferry service to Duck Harbor stops September 25, as does Sunday ferry service.
Isle au Haut/Acadia National Park trail system, Eighteen miles of trails, 0.2 to 3.8 miles, easy to strenuous. Be sure to stay on public land. Interior trails are quiet, and travel through forest, marshes, bogs, mountain summits, and a freshwater lake. The park roads are not plowed in winter and close from December through March. The town roads are maintained all winter.
^Cooper Farm trail, off Rte. 15, Caterpillar Hill. Take Cooper Farm Rd. to small parking lot on right. One-mile loop through woods and blueberry barrens, two cut-off trails; moderate with some uneven terrain; moderate uphill climb. Bog bridges and mossy trails. The scenic overlook on Caterpillar Hill Rd. is plowed.