Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The two trails established at the old quarry are less than 0.5 mile each and travel over exposed tree roots and rough terrain that makes footing tricky in some places.
The trailhead is marked by a covered kiosk at the far end of the parking lot. You’ll start the hike following the old quarry road, which will soon lead to the Glacial Erratic Trail, which is marked with a sign on the right.
Information: Settlement Quarry is and old granite quarry in the island town of Stonington that was last active in 1980. The quarry and surrounding forestland was purchased by the Island Heritage Trust in 1996 so that the public could have access to the beautiful property. In addition to the old quarry, which offers a great view of the ocean, the preserve is now home to two hiking trails, the Glacial Erratic Trail and the Grout Pile Trail, as well as the old quarry road.
At the trailhead is a large, covered kiosk with displays that include information about property, preserve rules and a trail map. Also at the kiosk is a compartment containing a visitor registration book and preserve brochures.
The hike starts out on the old quarry road, just beyond the kiosk. After just a short stroll along the overgrown road, you’ll come to the Glacial Erratic Trail, which heads into the mossy woods on the right. The trail is marked with a sign that is low to the ground.
The Glacial Erratic Trail starts out with a long, wide wooden boardwalk, then travels through a beautiful mixed woodland full of different mosses, lichens, fungi and ferns. The trail is marked with orange blazes, usually painted on tree trunks. Many exposed tree roots make footing difficult in some places, and there are a few steep sections as the trail travels over hilly terrain. In the forest, a large glacial erratic (a rock left on the land by glacier) is marked with a sign.
In about 0.3 mile, the trail emerges from the forest at the old granite quarry. Continue to follow the orange blazes that mark the trail, which are painted on the exposed bedrock. The trail will lead around the edge of the quarry to a memorial bench. Continuing past the bench, the trail visits a number of memorial stones for members of the McGuire family, which used to own and managed the quarry.
The quarry was an active industrial site from the beginning of the 1900s through the 1920s, then briefly active again in the 1960’s, with a last effort in 1980, according displays at the preserve erected by the Island Heritage Trust. The granite of the quarry was used to construct courthouse columns and building blocks for buildings and bridges.
The Glacial Erratic Trail climbs gradually to a spot known as the “viewpoint” of the quarry, which is marked by a large circle of granite memorializing Francis S. McGuire. From that location, you can look out over the quarry and forest to nearby Webb Cove, and beyond to Isle Au Haut. A large diagram has been erected at the spot to help you identify the coves, islands and mountains that lie before you.
Just below the viewpoint is a wooden platform with benches. This area would makes for a good spot to rest, picnic or gather a group.
The Glacial Erratic Trail continues around the quarry to join with the Grout Pile Trail and the old quarry road at an intersection. The Grout Pile Trail is blazed in blue paint and further explores the quarry and the grout (huge rock piles) nearby. The trail creates a 0.25-mile loop through the forest, and along the way, you’ll notice a side trail (also blazed in blue) that leads to a viewpoint, as well as a trail that is only for the guests of Old Ocean Quarry Adventures.
To return back to the parking area, you can walk back along the Glacial Erratic Trail or simply take the old quarry road, which is only about 0.25 mile from the quarry to the parking lot.
Access to the preserve is free. While visiting, remember to respect the private property surrounding the quarry. Stay within the preserve boundaries, keeping in mind that there is no public access to the water from the preserve. Dogs are permitted on the property but must be on leash at all times. Camping, fires, firearms, motorized vehicles and bicycles are prohibited. And please carry out all trash.
For information about the preserve trails and the many other trails owned and maintained by the Island Heritage Trust, visit www.islandheritagetrust.org or call 348-2455.
Personal note: I’ve explored many trails throughout Maine over the four-some-odd years I’ve been writing this column, and along the way, I’ve learned about many wonderful land trusts that conserve land for wildlife and the public. One of these outstanding organizations is the Island Heritage Trust, which has conserved several pockets of beautiful, mossy forest in the Deer Isle area.
I’d like to some day say I’ve visited all of their preserves. On Aug. 27, I knocked Settlement Quarry off the long list.
I chose the quarry because it’s open to dogs, and I planned to spend the day with my dog, Oreo. But I also chose it because I thought it would be different from the regular woodland hike. And I was right. As I walked the trails, I learned about the history local quarry industry, as well as some tidbits about geology. I read the displays aloud, but Oreo wasn’t the best pupil.
It was a sunny Thursday, and I wasn’t surprised to run into a few other hikers — a family of four, a couple and a runner.
In conclusion, I’d say that the quarry is a great place for a variety of people to enjoy, including families. Families with small children can simply walk up the old quarry road, then turn right onto the Glacial Erratic Trail to hike a short distance to the viewpoint and the long wooden benches that make for a great picnic area. But be sure to exercise caution along the edge of the quarry. If Oreo hadn’t been on a leash, I’m afraid he would have jumped over the ledge without thinking, and it’s quite a drop.