Favorite Places in Maine: Thorne Head Preserve

Merrymeeting Bay, a confluence of six rivers just a few miles from the mouth of the Kennebec River, dominates the view from the height of Thorne Head Preserve in Bath, which was purchased and protected in perpetuity by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust in 2000.
PHOTO COURTESY OF HEATHER PERRY
Merrymeeting Bay, a confluence of six rivers just a few miles from the mouth of the Kennebec River, dominates the view from the height of Thorne Head Preserve in Bath, which was purchased and protected in perpetuity by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust in 2000.
Posted Feb. 16, 2011, at 6:23 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 16, 2011, at 7:08 p.m.

Nestled at the northern tip of the small but bustling city of Bath is a natural refuge: the Thorne Head Preserve.

A mixed-growth forest insulates Thorne Head’s trails from the sound of virtually anything man-made, reducing the auditory experience to the whispering breeze, bird songs and, at dawn and dusk, the whine of insects.

From the parking lot, the walk to the highest point takes less than 20 minutes. From the top is a striking view of Merrymeeting Bay, where six rivers converge to form one of the state’s most treasured and unique natural habitats.

The Narrows trail, marked by an almost-overgrown steel pole near the summit, skirts the preserve’s perimeter. Along that trail is a tranquil boulder-strewn slope bathed in the mixed fragrances of tidal mud flats, pine and an endless collage of wildflowers and other plants.

At the shore, ragged bedrock fingers provide riparian paradises that would feel totally secluded if not for the occasional boat motoring into the bay and drifting peacefully back again, fishing lines in tow.

The high ground in the middle of the preserve serves as a landmark. Keeping it to the left will guide you back toward the parking area. At the end, you might encounter the rusty remains of a long-abandoned pickup truck and finally, an unfortunate view of the city’s landfill, but by then you’ll have experienced Thorne Head’s many unique and exceptional gifts.

How to get there: More information and a trail map are available at www.kennebecestuary.org/ThorneHeadPreserve.php. Thorne Head is located at the northern end of High Street in Bath.

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