Petit Manan Point hike winds through forest to scenic shore

Posted Sept. 09, 2010, at 10:22 a.m.

For a different hiking experience this fall, visit Petit Manan Point in Steuben.

Separating Dyer Bay and Pigeon Hill Bay, narrow Petit Manan Point juts like a dagger into the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service preserves 2,195 acres as part of Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses several islands and three other mainland properties in Hancock and Washington counties. The refuge protects key nesting habitat for sea-birds and songbirds, as well as such upland game birds as the woodcock.

At its Petit Manan Point Division, the USFWS has created two hiking trails that access the shore:

• Named after a naturalist who photographed more than 400 national wildlife refuges, the 1.5-mile John Hollingsworth Memorial Trail crosses a field and, at an arrow-marked intersection, winds through a typical coastal upland forest and a cedar swamp. Past the swamp, hikers briefly glimpse the sea and Petit Manan Island Lighthouse and soon hear waves lapping at the shore.

The trail emerges near a beautiful half-moon cove and a gray sand beach backed by a freshwater pond and a spruce-fir forest. Hikers can picnic on the rocks or explore the beach and its far shore.

From the beach, the trail leads to a rocky point with views extending across Pigeon Hill Bay to Bois Bubert Island and Petit Manan Lighthouse. The Hollingsworth Trail parallels the shore perhaps a quarter mile to a rocky beach, then turns inland toward the trailhead.

Along the trail, check out the plac-ards that provide interesting information about the local wildlife and eco-systems. Note how the rocky shore transitions from gray granite to sand-hued granite near where an Adirondack chair stands next to a plaque honoring John Hollingsworth.

• The lesser-used 4.0-mile Birch Point Trail crosses a blueberry field and winds through an upland forest. The trail emerges at Birch Point and offers views across Dyer Bay to Dyer Neck. This trail also reaches Carrying Place Cove.

Bring binoculars to see what mi-grating birds are resting and feeding on the Dyer Bay salt marshes.

To reach the two trailheads at Petit Manan Point Division, take Route 1 to Pigeon Hill Road in Steuben (for visitors traveling east from Ellsworth, this road lies beyond Steuben Village). Turn south and drive 5.8 miles to the Birch Point Trail parking lot (marked by an information kiosk) and 6.2 miles to the Hollingsworth Trail parking lot.

Pack a light lunch, drinks, and bin-oculars. Dogs must be leashed at all times.

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