Saturday, July 25, 2020

Ledges, Lichens, and a Loop - Southern Maine Nature Trail

    In the late hours when other people are scrolling social media, reading a book, or binging Netflix, I am lying in bed internet-searching for new trails for myself and my kids.  Although I hike all year round - summer is truly my biggest "hiking season".  I have summers "off" and like to fill my days with my young children hitting the trails.  Here on the Seacoast, we have amazing kid-friendly, but I'm always looking for more.  And this week, I found one!  
    Nestled in a small preserve on the South Berwick/Ogunquit town lines is a perfect little-kid loop trail that provides views of ledges and even caves - all covered with beautiful lichens and mosses.  What's more, it's a loop!

Southern Maine Nature Trail with a cave

Here's how to recreate this adventure...

Adventure: Kenyon Hills Preserve Loop Trail in South Berwick, Maine

Getting there:  For GPS purposes, the official address location is 110 Ogunquit Rd, South Berwick, Maine.  To get there from Dover, NH take Route 4 (Portland Ave) towards South Berwick, Maine.  Continue on Route 4 until it splits in South Berwick.  Curve right to get on Agamenticus Rd and drive for a quarter mile.  Turn Right on Emerys Bridge Rd and continue for 1.6 miles.  Turn right at Bennettlot Rd and continue for 4 miles.  Finally, turn right onto Ogunquit Rd.  The trailhead is on the right about 2 miles up.  The trailhead is well signed saying "Kenyon Hill Preserve: Great Works Regional Land Trust" from the road and their is a small uneven (free) parking lot.  The trail is open dawn to dusk.
kenyon hill preserve sign in South Berwick Maine
Trail sign from the road: Kenyon Hill Preserve / Great Works Regional Land Trust

  From the parking lot, walk back from the road.  There is a small laminated signed stapled to a post showing the loop (see photo).  I also used AllTrails to record my hike so I wouldn't get lost. The trail is a well blazed one mile loop with blue blazes, however there are small small offshoot trails.  
    From the initial fork, we decided to start right - doing a counter clockwise trek.  This was a great choice because a lot of the "attractions" are early on this portion of the trail.  We saw huge glacial erratic boulders covered in lichen and moss, towering rock faces, and smaller rock piles perfect for toddler/preschoolers to climb. 
    The trail is easy but has some roots and rock tripping hazards (my four year old fell a few times).  There are small changes in elevation gain but nothing too noticeable. About half way through the loop we went up an incline and according to the AllTrails topo map, we were at the tallest point in elevation on the trail.  We scrambled up a large rock and enjoyed our lunch.   
    The last half mile of the trail was easy, flat, and straight.  Even though this trail is only one mile, our scrambling and exploring of small off-shoots clocked our hike at 1.8 miles, and we spent 90 minutes here!  The climbing rocks and cave made it a really fun one for kids, but adults will enjoy the varied views and beautiful lichen/moss covered rocks as well.
Curly lichens grown on large rock faces throughout the trail
Curly lichens grown on large rock faces throughout the trail

Difficulty: The short distance and fairly easy terrain makes me categorize this trail as over all EASY but Great Works Regional Land Trust that manages it, labeled it "moderate".

Distance: 1 mile loop. However, we must have done a lot of off-trail rock exploring because I clocked our trek at 1.8 miles total.  


- Parking is limited but it was not busy.  We only saw one other hiker on a sunny, summer weekday morning. There are no bathrooms or trash receptacles at the trailhead.

- The trail was clean.  Please keep it this way by carrying out your trash.

- Keep track of the blue blazes.  There are other "non-official" trails that are not blazed.  We accidentally meandered down a couple.  

- Bring bug spray.  The bugs weren't horrible but there were a few wetland type areas along the trail where the mosquitoes were noticeable.  

- Dogs are allowed on the trail.

This trail reminded me of one of our other favorite loops - the Winnie-the-Pooh Trail - that also has rock ledges and caves.  The kids really liked it and so did I.  I'm so glad my late night internet searches paid off!

Southern maine trail for kids

You might enjoy these similar adventures...

Beautiful kid friendly hike in southern maine