Dan and Hannah Hike the Dodge Point Preserve in Newcastle, Maine

Our mid-November day on the Mid-Coast of Maine wraps up with another hike, this time along the Damariscotta River in Newcastle.  Thanks to the recommendation of our friend Molly Hogan, we drive a simple 18 miles back up the Pemaquid Peninsula, cross the tidal Damariscotta River and head south towards the Gulf of Maine on the appropriately named River Street.

By the way, Molly is a preeminent Maine nature photographer, a blogger/poet, (click here for her Nix the Comfort Zone blog), current elementary school teacher/hero during a pandemic, and a former student of mine in Teacher Education at the University of New England.

With sunset at 420P, we park at the Dodge Point Preserve.  When the information kiosk recommends that we wear hunter orange while hiking since it’s hunting season, Hannah and I don’t think twice about putting on our fluorescent yellow reflective vests for the trail. Momma didn’t raise no fool. 

A fashionable reflective vest, oui?
We start at the center of the map, head right on the Old Farm Road Trail, hike the Shore Trail, and return by way of the OFRT.

The trailhead map lays out a straightforward loop hike along the Old Farm Road Trail to the Damariscotta River.  Wide enough for a 19th century horse-drawn wagon, the sloping to-the-water, oak leaf-filled trail allows us to walk side by side on an unusually warm (64F!!). 

Old Farm Road Trail

At various junctions, the trail is well-marked and includes, for the first time hiker, the same map we saw at the trailhead.  Brilliant!

Ice Pond Hannah

By Ice Pond and then walking the wooden puncheons (planks set on boggy parts of the trail), we never lose the totally golden brown oak leaf covered trail as the river is always to our east.

Dan aboard the puncheons through the low lying area
Damariscotta River
Heading to the trailhead before sunset

From across the river we hear the sound of a gravel truck dumping its load.  Soon we realize that the sound is actually the echo from gunshots.  We are indeed in rural Maine and not in Kansas (and by that I mean York) anymore.

With the sun setting, we return by way of the Old Farm Road Trail as an orange-vested hound barrels at us (and by that I mean me). From 100’ away a woman loudly yells, Come, come.  Paying no attention, the pooch races at me at 70 miles per hour as I stare down the gun of a barrel.  Stopped dead in our tracks, not knowing what to expect, we watch it circle us and return to the distant woman.  As we pass, she genuinely apologizes and says, she always comes back.   Well not, this time.

Having been bitten and nipped on the road/trail while biking, hiking, and walking, it’s not hard to guess that I’m not a dog person.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I like dogs that don’t bark, are leashed, and don’t really care about me.

As Billy Shakespeare writes, All’s well that ends well!  The minor incident hardly disturbs our third celebratory adventure of the day hiking the preserves in coastal Maine.

Click here for the first at the La Verna Preserve blog and click here for the second to the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.

10 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah Hike the Dodge Point Preserve in Newcastle, Maine

  1. Thanks for the shout out, Dan. I’m so sorry about the dog incident. I am dog-bitten, dog-shy and that kind of episode terrifies me. I am totally in your camp about the type of dogs you do like. I do have hours of fond memories of wandering along Dodge Point trails. Thanks for bringing a few back!

  2. Puncheon. Now there’s a new word I’ll have to remember. I’m not a dog person either, especially when it weighs more than I do. We had two monster dogs launch at us, their owner in the distance calling them back, which of course they had no intention of obeying. What part of “Keep dogs leashed” do you not understand?

  3. Good Morning, Dan and your preeminent hiker pal, Your encounters with dogs really hit my heart. I’ve heard from more than one hiker, about scary dogs and worse!!! Sooooo sorry that people can so rude, and crude to let their barking or aggressive mutts run! I, too, hate it when they would come up to my mild Goldens, growl and shove my dog. I don’t relate to these owners – what are they thinking, Or not, is more like it. Like your clueless lady owner – isn’t that a reassuring comment she makes.

    Growing up, I had a Collie, beautiful, mild and probably not super bright. Lassie on TV who did all kinds of wonderful rescues was a fraud. Targe and I had a couple small dogs, then Randy introduced us to Golden Retrievers. His, named Budweiser. Smart, loving and live to please their owners. I try to live up to my Tigger dog. Then there is an opposite group who buy an animal to “protect or aggress”. And these dogs fill the Animal Rescue.

    (and, what a coincidence – I have h.s. friends (in Gothem or Gorham Maine) sp? they pick berries, make jam, hunt a bit, feed the wild animals (send me pictures of bears, deer, raccoons) they are the rural to your city. . .their dog of choice is a poodle (cares only for the owner – not interested in anything else).

    It looks like the dog population is about the human one.

    Loving thoughts to you and Han, diane


    • Goldens sound like my kind of dog! Gorham is 40 minutes away in the Portland, Maine area. Did you visit them when you came to Maine in the 80s? I limit where I walk in our neighborhood knowing where the unleashed dogs are.

  4. ‘damariscotta caught my eye again….I want to do this FLAT hike ! and…we have friends 15 miles north of this spot on Damariscotta Lake, I shall remember this. love your photographs.

    PS/ I must be coming out of my 2020 personal and political fog b/c I’m making more time for things i used to do. xo ox

    • Welcome back! And thanks again for your tireless work in NH to make the current president a one term president. A grateful nation thanks you. Come late spring, these preserves would be just the place for you to hike on level ground!

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