Sunshine and birdsong beckon us outdoors in the spring, to hike and explore the waking wilderness. Many hiking trails are great to visit during this time of year, while others are extra muddy and water-filled due to melting snow and April showers. So we did some research.
To help you decide where to go, we reached out to some local land trusts and asked them to provide information about trails and preserves that are ideal for visiting in the spring. Here are six of their suggestions.
Pike Lands Preserve in Lubec
Located on the eastern corner of Maine, Pike Lands Preserve features a large grove of apple trees that’s especially beautiful to visit in the spring, said Cathy Lookabaugh, membership and outreach director for the Downeast Coastal Conservancy, which owns and maintains the property.
“If you’re standing at the parking lot and begin down the trail, you are surrounded by hundreds of apple trees in all directions,” Lookabaugh said. “In late spring — late May and early June — the apple blossoms are in full bloom, which is so beautiful. They also attract a host of birds, bees and other wildlife.”
The property features about 1.5 miles of intersecting trails that loop through fields and spruce-fir and cedar woods. The trails also lead down to a pocket shingle beach.
Access is free. Dogs are permitted but must be leashed. For more information, visit downeastcoastalconservancy.org.
Taft Point in Gouldsboro
“It’s the recipient of brand new bog bridging to help keep hikers’ boots dry, as well as a beautiful new bridge with an inset bench that allows visitors to take in stunning views of Jones Cove and Flanders Bay,” said Kelsey Moore, community engagement coordinator for the Frenchman Bay Conservancy, the land trust that owns and manages the property.
A self-guided hike was created for the property by Maine Master Naturalist Alice Noyes. And along the shore, you could try some intertidal exploration, as demonstrated in this video produced with Maine Outdoor School.
Access is free. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on leash or under voice control at all times. For more information, visit frenchmanbay.org.
Central Penjajawoc Preserve in Bangor
The 265-acre Central Penjajawoc Preserve features a double-loop trail that totals 1.8 mile and weaves through a beautiful forest. Owned and maintained by the Bangor Land Trust, this property dries out faster than the land trust’s other preserves, making it a great choice for the spring, said Bangor Land Trust President Lucy Quimby.
“It’s a lovely spot for a walk and some bird watching,” Quimby said.
Access is free. To minimize impact on wildlife, the Bangor Land Trust decided that dogs are not allowed on the preserve. However, leashed dogs are permitted on all other trails owned by the land trust. For more information, visit bangorlandtrust.org.
Goose River Peace Corps Preserve in Waldoboro
Located side by side, Goose River Peace Corps and Mill Pond preserves feature a network of trails that together total about 2 miles. The trails form loops that trace the banks of Goose River and visit the shore of a mill pond.
“In addition to a waterfall soundtrack that accompanies the first half of the hike, there are riotous wildflowers, including cardinal flowers, which are these brilliant plumes and hard to find these days,” said Ali Stevenson, communications manager for the Midcoast Conservancy.
Access is free. Dogs are permitted if on leash or under their owner’s control at all times. For more information, visit midcoastconservancy.org.
Hatchet Mountain Preserve in Hope
Rising 1,103 feet above sea level, Hatchet Mountain is a great spring hiking location. A 27-acre preserve on the mountain’s southeast side, where a 0.6-mile trail zigzags to the top.
Ian Stewart, executive director of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, describes the hike as “high and dry, with one of the best views of the coastal mountains.”
Access is free. Dogs are permitted but must be on leash after noon. For more information, visit coastalmountains.org.
Patten Stream Preserve in Surry
The 41-acre Patten Stream Preserve in Surry offers a 1.5-mile hike on woodland paths beside the rushing waters of Patten Stream, which winds around giant boulders. It’s one of the many preserves that are owned and maintained by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust.
The preserve is fairly dry in the spring and features a variety of spring flowers such as lady slippers, trillium and Jack-in-the-pulpit. It’s also home to vernal pools, which are temporary woodland pools that attract salamanders and frogs in the spring.
Access is free. Dogs are permitted but must be leashed. For more information, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org.
For more ideas of preserves to visit in your area, call your local land trust. One way to find land trusts in your area is by visiting the Maine Land Trust Network at mltn.org and searching by county.
Some land trust properties may be more suitable to visit in the spring than others. And some trailhead parking areas may be briefly closed during mud season.
Spring is also a time when many of the trails are being cleaned up from winter storms. Expect downed trees to be blocking some trails. If you’re interested in helping with trail maintenance, land trusts are usually happy to enlist volunteers.