On a recent gorgeous Saturday morning, Linda and I walked a wonderful loop trail alongside the Damariscotta River, on lands conserved by the Damariscotta River Association. Having driven through Damariscotta many times, enroute to Boothbay Harbor, we were astonished to discover these amazing lands and trails for the first time.
This would be a good summer for you to discover some of Maine’s less-known gems. That’s what we’re doing! From the 6000 acre Kennebec Highlands (ten minutes from our house) to Down East’s Bold Coast, we’ve selected a few new trails and lands to explore.
Start by contacting your local land trust. When I told Steve Hufnagel at the Damariscotta River Association (www.damariscottariver.org
) that we were headed to his town for one of our newspaper travel columns, he quickly put together a package of great information on the town’s special features, trails, and conservation areas that really enhanced our weekend visit.
For years, we’ve used Jeff Romano’s Best Loop Hikes, New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the Maine Coast, published by Mountaineers Books in 2006, as a good hiking guide, and last year Jeff added 100 Classic Hikes, covering the six New England states, and also published by Mountaineers Books.
We’ve also developed an interest in Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness, after staying in that area at Gorman-Chairback Camps, owned and operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. So I ordered a copy of AMC’s new 10th edition Maine Mountain Guide, featuring hikes all over the state. You’ll find this one in most bookstores, or online at www.outdoors.org/amcstore.
It’s great, with a couple of excellent maps and very detailed instructions on hikes to more than 200 summits. I especially appreciate the ratings of trail difficulty because at our age, we like the less strenuous hikes. And I was amused when I checked out Waterford’s Mt. Tire’m – expecting a high degree of difficulty. Turns out the hike, rated as “easy,” doesn’t tire’m out as much as I thought!
And then there’s our birding bible, Bob Duchesne’s Maine Birding Trail
, published in 2009 by Down East. We’ve been giving away these books to inns and B&Bs that we’ve visited for our travel column, to encourage them to focus some effort on traveling birders.
But it’s a great book for you too, because Bob identifies more than 260 accessible sites and tells you the specific birds you’ll see there. A few years ago, not having seen a Scarlet Tanager all summer, we opened Bob’s book to read about a trail nearby in Belgrade Lakes where we would have “a better than average chance of Scarlet Tanagers.” Two hundred yards up the trail, on the right, there they were!