Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The trail on the preserve is just under 0.5 mile. It travels over uneven forest floor and climbs stone steps to gradually reach the top of a hill.
Information: Lookout Rock is an outcropping on a rocky hill in Brooksville. Covered with pitch pines and other evergreen trees, the hill is a high point in the area, rising 244 feet above sea level. At Lookout Rock and two other open areas on the hill, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of the nearby Eggemoggin Reach.
The landmark is located on the 17.6-acre Lookout Rock Preserve, which is owned and maintained by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. The nonprofit acquired the property in 2017, to preserve the scenic spot and keep it open to the public.
At the preserve parking lot on Herrick Road, a kiosk displaying a trail map marks the trailhead. Sign into the trail register that’s affixed to the kiosk before starting your hike.
The trail measures just under 0.5 mile and is marked with blue blazes, wooden signs etched with blue arrows and the occasional cairn (rock pile). Starting at the kiosk, the trail enters the forest and climbs around a jumble of boulders on uneven stone steps. Be prepared for the footing to be tricky in some areas.
Before long, you’ll enter a stand of pitch pines. With twisted trunks and branches, these evergreen conifer trees have the Latin name of Pinus rigida, which describes their especially stiff needles, according to the American Conifer Society. In Maine, pitch pines are found in the south and along the coast. They’re a common sight on mountains in Acadia National Park.
Other plants you’ll find in Lookout Rock’s pitch pine forest include lowbush blueberry, lichens and mosses, sheep laurel and juniper. The hill is also home to a variety of evergreen trees, including white pine and spruce. In addition, a small cranberry bog is located in a bedrock depression at the first viewpoint on the hill, and two small vernal pools are located where granite quarrying took place in the past. The largest of these vernal pools is known locally as the “frog pond.”
Near this vernal pool, a little over 0.1 mile into the hike, a side trail veers off to the left and travels through private property to reach Oakland House Resort. Feel free to explore this trail to the preserve property line.
Back on the main trail, the blue blazes will lead you over rocky terrain to the top of the hill. There the first viewpoint is partially blocked by trees. Through one of the gaps in the trees, the Deer Isle Bridge is visible.
The second viewpoint, reached by a short side trail, is an open ledge. And the third viewpoint is similarly open, marked with a sign that says “Lookout.” Close to each other, the locations offer similar views of Eggemoggin Reach.
Looking straight down, you’ll find Deadman Cove. An online source called Maine Geology Trails states that a ship was wrecked just outside this cove, and the body of a sailor washed ashore. No date or further details are given.
Out in the ocean, the largest, closest land mass is Little Deer Island. To the right of that is a tiny island and lighthouse: Pumpkin Island Lighthouse. Beyond are several other islands, including Spectacle, Hog and Pond. And beyond those lie Islesboro and the Camden Hills.
The trail dead-ends at the third viewpoint.
Dogs are permitted but must be kept under control at all times. Exercise caution at the overlooks, where you’ll find small cliffs. Fires and camping are not permitted.
For information, visit mcht.org or call 207-729-7366.
Personal note: I stumbled across Lookout Rock while surfing the websites of local land trusts. That’s often how I find locations for my adventures, especially when looking for short, easy trails. My dog Oreo was joining me for the day, and since he’d just recovered from a small injury (a pulled muscle in his back or groin — we aren’t sure), I was searching for an easy trail. I also had an itch to see the ocean.
Lookout Rock exceeded my expectations, even though I really shouldn’t be surprised at the beauty of coastal Maine by now. We started our hike under a bluebird sky, squinting in the sun as snow melted off tree boughs and boulders. Oreo seemed giddy. He rolled in the snow and sniffed inquisitively at rocks and bushes. At one point, I had to wave him away from a pitch pine bough that he was intent on playing tug of war with. I couldn’t help but laugh.
We were the preserve’s only visitors that morning, but we weren’t exactly alone. Birdsong told us that we were surrounded by resident wildlife, though the singers were hard to spot. The only bird I actually saw was a brown creeper, which ironically is one of the toughest birds to spot. The tiny brown bird is well camouflaged, its feathers a mix of browns and white that resemble tree bark.
By the time we reached the third overlook, the weather was rapidly changing as a dark cloud swept in from the northwest. Out on the ocean, a wall of white moved across the water, blocking the view like a curtain closing on a stage. In minutes, tiny balls of snow were raining down on us. We had reached the top just in time to watch this cool transition from sun to snow.
How to get there: The preserve parking area is on Herrick Road in Brooksville, a town located on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Herrick Road is 3.6 miles long and spans between Route 176 and Route 15, bending around the west side of Walker Pond. If coming from Route 176, the preserve parking lot is about 1.8 miles down Herrick Road on your right, just after Winneganek Way (which will also be on your right). If coming from Route 15, the preserve parking lot is about 1.7 miles down Herrick Road on your left, just after Robin Hood Road (which will be on your right). The parking lot is marked with a sign and can hold several vehicles. It may not be plowed in the winter.
For more of Aislinn Sarnacki’s adventures, visit bangordailynews.com/act-out. Follow Aislinn Sarnacki on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors. Her guidebooks “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path” and “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine” are available at local bookstores and wherever books are sold.