I don’t need much of a reason to hike. Sometimes, just the thought of finding a new trail is enough for me lace up the boots. It has grown into a kind of game. I call it the, “let’s-see-if-I-can-hike-someplace-I’ve-never-been” game. There aren’t any rules except one. Wherever I go has to be to somewhere that I haven’t hiked before. It gives me another excuse to get out there, because usually when I set out for the weekend it’s to somewhere familiar.
There are lots of places that I visit regularly. I can’t get enough of those special spots and make as many trips as I can to them. Katahdin’s Knife Edge is a particular favorite. But a repeat visit to a favorite doesn’t leave much time to discover someplace new. So, it’s a challenge to find a place unexplored.
Last weekend, though, I discovered a unique, lightly traveled, trail network. It’s uncrowded, well-marked, and the trails lead to a variety of landscape features; ponds, saltwater access, waterfalls, farm fields, forests and a couple of small mountains.
They are located on the Blue Hill peninsula and are spread out over six towns, from Surry to Brooksville. The Blue Hill Heritage Trust owns 5,000 acres of conserved properties that contain the hiking trails and as you’d expect, Blue Hill Mountain is one of them. But I’ve hiked Blue Hill Mountain before, several times. Although it is a great hike with wonderful views from the top, it really didn’t qualify under the rules of the game.
Instead, I headed for three trails in three different towns. Sonny Whittaker, along with his girlfriend, Christina West, both from Ellsworth, joined me in playing the game last Sunday. We found one hike in a farm field in Sedgwick, another up a small mountain in Brooksville, and a third hike beside a brook to a waterfall in Blue Hill. None of us had hiked the trails before, so we satisfied the only rule.
Cooper Farm-Caterpillar Hill in Sedgwick
On this property are 134 acres protected by the trust, including farm fields and forest. The hike we took led us across a field, and there are several possible longer loops. We chose the shortest one at a half-mile, round trip. The trail is well-marked with stakes painted with blue blazes. It led us across the field that was filled with shoulder-high wildflowers. Where the flowers weren’t growing, we found enormous patches of blueberries, just ripe for picking. We picked and ate our fill in the morning sun, then moved on through the field to enter a spruce, fir and cedar forest.
Once In the woods, the trail crossed several bog bridges as we passed moss carpets on either side. The cool, shady air of the forest was a relief from the sun in the field. Moving in a broad loop, we returned across the other end of the field to the small parking area. On our morning hike we were the only ones on the trail.
Directions to Cooper Farm-Caterpillar Hill
Just south of the Maine DOT scenic turnout on Maine Route 15, look for Cooper Farm Road, a dirt road. Turn on that road and the trust has a small sign in a parking area on the right. The trailhead is reached here.
John B. Mountain in Brooksville
This 250-foot mountain is just right for a family hike. It sits on 38 protected acres. The trail is clearly marked with blue blazes and the short loop, the one we took, leads up to the summit. It passes by an old cemetery on the right then took us up gradually at first, then steeper over the ledges on the shoulder of the mountain to the partially forested top. The forest was made up of spruce, fir, red pine and cedar. In a little less than a quarter-mile, we reached the top and were rewarded with partial views of Eggemoggin Reach and Deer Isle.
We took a snack break on top, returned to the parking area and headed for the third hike of the day, a waterfall in Blue Hill. Again we were the only ones on the trail.
Directions to John B. Mountain
Take Maine Route 176 to Brooksville. In Brooksville, look for Breezemere Road, a paved road. Turn on Breezemere and follow it for 0.8 miles to the trailhead on the right, which is indicated with the Blue Hill Heritage Trust sign.
Peter’s Brook in Blue Hill
This hike is another easy hike of a mile round trip. It leads to a small waterfall, just the place to cool off on a hot summer day. The trail starts off on an old road. It parallels the brook for a short ways then climbs gradually away from it, through a white pine and cedar forest. Soon, the trail returns to the sound of the brook cascading through a small ravine. Turning toward the sound, it finally led us to a small 15-foot-high cascade. We took a few pictures and climbed on the rocks. It’s a perfect place to escape a hot, humid day, we agreed. We soaked heads and feet, then, returned the way we came. Once again we were the only ones on the trail.
Directions to Peter’s Brook
The trailhead is located half-mile from the village of Blue Hill on Maine Route 176. Look for a dirt parking area on the right, which is the AB Herrick Memorial Landing, a saltwater access point also conserved by the trust. The signed trailhead is on the opposite side of the road, across the bridge.
There you have it, a small selection of easy hikes. We played our game and we felt like we’d won. We discovered a few new trails, had a great morning of hiking and didn’t have to hike too strenuously on a hot summer day. We couldn’t have asked for more. Except now I want to hike all the rest of their trails.
For more information on all the trails maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, visit its website www.bluehillheritagetrust.org. There you’ll find information on trails, including maps, trail descriptions and directions to the trailheads. There are over a half-dozen other hikes on its other properties.