Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The Clarry Hill Trail is 1.25 miles long, for an out-and-back hike of 2.5 miles. From the west trailhead, the trail travels up Clarry Hill. Expect a steady slope that will get your heart pumping. If looking for an easier, shorter walk, park at the east trailhead and you’ll begin the trail near the top of the hill. From there you only need to walk a small percentage of the trail to explore the uppermost blueberry barrens on the hill and enjoy open views of the region.
Information: Rising 643 feet above sea level, Clarry Hill is home to the largest contiguous acreage of productive blueberry land in the midcoast region — approximately 400 acres. Covering much of the hill, including its top, these fields of lowbush blueberries offer open panoramic views that extend to the ocean and the western mountains of Maine.
Straddling the towns of Union and Waldoboro, the hill forms a divide between the Medomak and St. George rivers. It’s one of the highest points in both watersheds.
Medomak Valley Land Trust worked with landowners to conserve over 500 acres of land on the hill through land purchases and the creation of conservation easements on privately owned land. The land trust then constructed a 1.25-mile hiking trail from near the top of the hill to the bottom, spanning from Elmer Hart Lane in Union to Jackson Road in Waldoboro.
Clockwise from left: A hiker walks along the Clarry Hill Trail in the afternoon of Oct. 14, in Union; Blue signs mark the trail in Union and Waldoboro; The trail is a narrow footpath that explores blueberry fields and forestland on Clarry Hill in Union and Waldoboro. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN
Marked with blue wooden signs and blue blazes, Clarry Hill Trail weaves through blueberry fields at the top of Clarry Hill, following old stone walls much of the way. The trail also explores forestland on the hill, where it’s marked with blue blazes painted on tree trunks. The westernmost stretch of the trail, near the bottom of the hill, is entirely forested.
In 2019, the Medomak Valley Land Trust became a part of the larger Midcoast Conservancy. That organization now maintains the trail and owns the property and conservation easements on the hill.
The hill is of high conservation value because its western side drains into the 75-acre Storer Pond, an undeveloped 869-acre headwater pond of the Medomak River. The pond includes habitat for warm and cold water fish species and contains significant wading bird and waterfowl habitat. The hill also features critical habitat for two rare grassland bird species, the upland sandpiper and the vesper sparrow.
Clarry Hill Trail crosses property that’s owned by Midcoast Conservancy, as well as conservation easements on privately owned land. It’s important to stay on trail to respect landowners and avoid trampling plants. The trail may be closed at certain times of year to protect the fields and prevent interference with harvesting or field maintenance.
Hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on the trail. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are prohibited. Dogs are permitted but must be kept under voice control and in sight at all times or on leash. Hunting is permitted on certain parcels of land on the hill. Hikers are advised to wear blaze orange during hunting season.
Midcoast Conservancy was built from the merger of five land trusts, becoming one of the largest regional conservation organizations in Maine, with over 13,000 acres of land conserved. For more information, visit midcoastconservancy.org or call 207-389-5150.
Clockwise from left: A robin perches on a rock in the middle of a blueberry field on Clarry Hill in Union; Old rock walls line the blueberry fields on Clarry Hill in Union and Waldoboro. Credit: Aislinn Sarnacki / BDN. BDN reporter Aislinn Sarnacki follows the Clarry Hill Trail through blueberry fields on Oct. 14, in Union. Credit: Courtesy of Derek Runnells.
Personal note: The bright afternoon sunlight slanted across Clarry Hill on Oct. 14, lighting up the tiny crimson leaves of the blueberry plants. The fields, criss-crossed with old rock walls, glowed red.
Our plan was to hike the hill from the west trailhead (so we would start at the bottom of the hill, climb to the top, then hike back down), but when we arrived, we found the trailhead — and a section of the forested trail — was closed for timber harvesting. A sign directed us to the east trailhead instead. So we drove about 3 miles, around the hill, to the east trailhead and started our hike from there.
The trail started to the right of the trailhead kiosk, on an old road. Not far down that road was the first blue wooden sign marking the trail, which soon narrowed into a traditional walking path. Walking our dog Oreo on leash, my husband, Derek, led the way.
We slowly hiked much of the trail, turning back where the final section of the trail was taped off for timber harvesting. Along the way, we spotted several robins flying about in the fields and perching on rock piles, their orange-red breasts flashing in the sun. We paused at a woodland brook so Oreo could have a long drink of water. And we passed a few fellow walkers, all cheerful for the warm weather and spectacular scenery.
How to get there: The west trailhead (at the bottom of the hill) is on Jackson Road in Waldoboro, about 1.2 miles from where it intersects with Old Augusta Road and Feylers Corner Road, near the east end of Little Medomak Pond. The east trailhead (near the top of the hill) is on Elmer Hart Lane in Union, about 0.2 mile from its intersection with Clarry Hill Lane.
If you go, make sure to only park in the designated parking area at each trailhead. At the west trailhead, the small parking area is obvious, extending into the woods from Jackson Road. At the east trailhead, the parking area is by the trailhead kiosk. Neighboring landowners have had trouble with visitors blocking the road and driveways. If the parking areas are both full, visit another time. Arrive with a plan B hike, just in case.
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her 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.