Dan and Hannah Hike the Brave Boat Harbor Farm Lane Trail in York, Maine

On a Sunday in early April 2021, Hannah and I notice cars parked by the side of the Route 103 as we approach Kittery coming from York.  The collection of vehicles has the feel of a Sunday afternoon family gathering in this rural shoreline part of York.

The unmarked trailhead is just above the 103 on this map.
The York/Kittery line is at the curve at the far end of the road.

Little do we know until this morning, we have two to three miles of farmland paths wide enough for a 19th century wagon to easily pass through the shoreline forest of oaks and firs.  We’ve lived here for nearly forty years and never knew that this unmarked trail existed.

Again, at the curve in the road is the trailhead on the left.

Parking roadside one hundred yards from the trailhead, Hannah and I have the tidal river to our right and are freewheeling straight ahead on what appears to be a one-time farm lane, easily wide enough for two.

Tidal creek that divides York and Kittery

As shoreline trails in southern Maine often are, this farm lane skirts the expanding tidal creek without much gain in elevation.   The trail that would handle a four wheeler doesn’t appear to have seen mountain bikes or motorized vehicles of any sort.

A freshwater stream crosses our path, but a few well placed rocks allow us to easily step across.

Maybe a mile and a half in, we take the hard right towards the tidal river.

Passing the Payne Cemetery, we walk out on a marshland berm with the mudflats and the wetlands bracketing the trail.  Soon we are looking over to the Kittery shore, not far from the Cutts Island Trail (Click here for that blog.).

The man-made berm through the marsh.

The trestle posts from the one-time railroad from Portsmouth, NH to York, ME.

Doubling back on this 55F degree morning, we hike on our own until near the trailhead we we run into a woman with her free-ranging, friendly dog. Not a fan of out-of-control canines, I even pet this amiable golden retriever.

Heading back to the trailhead

Fifty minutes later we return to the unmarked trailhead knowing we have found a hiking jewel for families and nature lovers who come to visit us.  Please do.

Ten days later we hike this same trail with our local friend Karen.

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Emmons Preserve in Kennebunkport, Maine

Pumped by the news that our sister-in-law Becky is coming to Maine, Hannah and I have just the trail for us all to hike.  Thanks to the recommendation of our friends, Donna and George, we head 30 minutes north from our home in York for the Emmons Preserve curated by the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust.

Yes, that Kennebunkport, home of the presidential Bushes (41 and 43).  By the way, we are tight with Becky as she married Hannah’s older brother, Doug.

Let me tell you Becky has lived a full life.  She spent a year as a child in Australia with her family, went to college in Colorado, earned a piano performance Master’s at our Ithaca College, worked aside her hubby Doug for twenty years on a buffalo farm, dealt with Doug’s early death at the age of 56, came to Maine to care for her mom, spent a year WOOF-ing (volunteering on farms and homesteads from South Carolina to Arkansas to New Mexico for no pay but for room and board), and currently resides in North Carolina as a talented musician with her guy Derek.

Meeting on a Friday in late May at the spectacular Emmons Preserve in Kennebunkport, we three lunch on Hannah’s cole slaw and chicken salad on the visitor’s center’s upper deck.  Becky has brought a frog to place on Hannah’s Frog Wall and Hannah found a mug from Becky’s Diner (Portland, Maine) for our Becky.

Hannah’s latest addition to her Frog Wall
The trail begins! Love spring green in May

Heading out on the wide Batson River Trail (detailed trail map at the end of the blog), we stumble upon and are blown away by the stone labyrinth of rocks donated by locals to commemorate a loved one. 

We walk the walk.
Cool is the rule!

Crossing the creek, we have a clearly marked trail into the wilds of Kennebunkport.  In mid-May the spring green leaves spread a softness all around us.  We catch up on Becky’s adult kids out Oregon way and share our times with our five grandchildren in Massachusetts and New York state.

Yellow blaze of the Batson River Trail

After 45 minutes we have still not reached the terminus of the Batson River Trail but turn around to return to the trailhead for our good-byes.

Batson River
The wilds of Kennebunkport

Fact is, there are no good-byes.  There’s just see you soon, raccoon and blow a kiss, jellyfish.

(portrait mode on my iPhone12)

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Brave Boat Headwaters in Kittery, Maine

The second of our daily double of short local hikes is just over the York line into Kittery.  (Click here for the first, the Fuller Forest Preserve in York.)  Travel south on Route 103 from York Harbor and on your right after two miles or so you’ll see the trailhead parking for this hiking jewel developed by the Kittery Land Trust.

This mid-April late morning finds women with their dogs and a mom with her three-month-old papoose.  The trail is often wide enough for the two of us to walk side-by-side through the forested land.

Crossing the little creek on wooden puncheons with roof shingles for traction, we are minutes from home but really away into the Maine woods.

Ever the Mr. Cool with his shades.

Having hiked this trail before with our grandsons Owen and Max, today we discover the new Sawyer Farm Trail spur at the far end of the loop trail; red plastic blazes on the trees guide us all the way to Bartlett Road near the York/Kittery line.

Without haste but walking steadily, Hannah and I cover the mile and a half or so of trail in forty some minutes.

Paired with the Fuller Forest Preserve trail not five minutes away, the Brave Boat Headlands trail gives those new to hiking/walking and those seeking the solitude of nature a double-barreled hiking experience.

Five days later we took our friend Karen to explore this same trail.

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally at the Fuller Forest Preserve in York, Maine

Finding outdoor alternatives to working out at our local gym, Hannah and I discover the Fuller Forest Preserve right here in town.

From the center of town, take Lindsay Road, cross Sewell’s Bridge by the York Golf and Tennis Club.  Take the gentle right onto Southside Road.  After a half mile, take the first left onto Bartlett Road, and voila, the extensive trailhead parking is to your right within 0.3 of a mile.

Thanks to the generous donation of the Fuller Brown family to the York Land Trust, York has the first stages of a forest trail at its doorstep.  As a conservation area, this 220 acre parcel is part of 1300 acres of contiguous undeveloped lands in southern York County. 

Let me give you a little background of how this land came to be set aside for the public.  In 1986, Marion Fuller Brown founded the York Land Trust.  In 2017, her heirs sold this acreage at a bargain rate to the York Land Trust and then donated some of the proceeds back to the YLT.  They are our local version of Warren Buffet and MacKenzie Scott (Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife).

This trail stump was criss-crossed by a chainsaw to let precipitation in to help decompose it.

Evidence of a recent wind storm that fell conveniently to the side of the trail

Currently, the Red Oak Trail is 0.75 miles through forested wetlands and remnants of coastal agricultural of a bygone era.  With new wood plank puncheons over swampy areas which are fed by seasonal vernal pools, we hike among the oaks, maples, and firs just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.  For you Ice Age buffs, this land was under a mile of ice during the last Ice Age some 11,000 years ago.

With Hannah in the foreground, volunteers build another wood plank puncheon over low lying wetlands.

Encountering pickleball friend Gary working on a new set of puncheons with another volunteer this mid-April Tuesday, we see the beginnings of a new trail all the way to Dolly Gordon Creek.

The next trail is beyond the two volunteers.

In April 2021, the less than a mile trail takes just twenty minutes of ambling.  Come back this fall and surely next spring to see the fine trail work of the volunteers of the York Land Trust.

Hannah is a real cut-up.

For more information about the Fuller Forest Preserve click here.

Returning to the trailhead.
Check out the twists in this pine.

Five days later we hiked the Red Oak trail with our friend Karen. The picture below is of the same tree that trapped Hannah.

More Hannah and Karen on the same puncheons where the volunteers were building the day we hiked.

Karen and Hannah on the trail after an all-day rain storm two days ago.

Dan and Hannah Hike Locally on Cutts Island in Kittery, Maine

On an overcast mid-April morning, Hannah and I head to the Maine coastline to explore the Cutts Island Trail on the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve in Kittery.

Though 70 degrees filled our Saturday past, today Monday, it’s a blustery 48.  You may not know it, but April in Maine is a tempest, a volatile lover.  Driving south from York on coastal Route 103, we turn left on Cutts Road for a few hundred yards to a stop sign.  At the junction of Sea Point Road, we veer left over the small bridge, within sight of the modest trailhead parking on Cutts Island.

Chauncey Creek at the trailhead

The trailhead is at the lower left of the map. The “YOU ARE HERE” on the map is when we were nearly to the Salt Marsh on this 1.8 mile round-trip trail.
Hannah on the puncheons, albeit during a dry spell

Pulling behind a van with Oregon plates, we have before us nearly two miles of flatland trails along Chauncey Creek on to the Salt Marsh.  The forest ahead is a collection of brown pick-up sticks of fallen oaks, maples, and pines among the healthy trees ready to leaf out.  In a month, the softness of green will bracket the trail and calm the winter beast within us all.

The stone walls suggest a bygone era when men were men and women were women and stone walls were made of real stones.
Chauncey Creek at high tide
Dan on the trail hiking in his LL Bean zip-offs and his Merrell hiking shoes. He’s nothing if he’s not trendy.

With a trail of soft dirt that is easy on our feet, we head out on level terrain exploring to see if this is a suitable trail for our grandsons, Owen (8) and Max (6).

Signs directing us at junctures of the trail tell us of quite the American hero, Rachel Carson. 

As an American biologist, Rachel Carson wrote on environmental pollution and the natural history of the sea.  Her book, Silent Spring (1962), was the spark for the modern environmental movement as well as five alarm fire for the need to control pesticides, including DDT.  A graduate of Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, incidentally where my mother earned her B.A. in French and Latin, Ms. Carson in the prime of her life was weakened by breast cancer and died of a heart attack at 56 in 1964. 

Trail’s end

Chatting up the Oregonians, fully masked thirteen months into the Covid-19 pandemic, we learn they are vandwellers traveling the country.  Vandwellers!!

Following this encounter, I think how appealing it would be to travel the Lower Forty-Eight in a van as William Least Heat Moon described in Blue Highways (1982).   Staying wherever we want for as long as we want.  Hiking, visiting family and friends as modern day free-spirited, albeit upper middle class, hobos.  Of course, I would be doing this alone since Hannah wants no part of van-ity.

Even with all our stops to read the informative trail signs, we are back at the trailhead in 50 minutes.  Have hiked with Owen and Max before, we know this hike will easily take an hour and a half as they climb trailside logs and boulders, scamper down to the water’s edge, and throw whatever is close at hand.   

Can’t wait.

What do you know, during a “24 Hours with Owen and Max,” one month late (mid-May 2021) Hannah and I brought the boys to Cutts Island.

We assisted Margo (someone I just asked if she needed help) with her kayak from the car to Chauncey Creek.
Owen and his Omi as the leaves start filling in.

Meeting three others, we were fortunate that they lent Max (in the picture) and Owen their binoculars to see the birds of the marsh.

Bunny ears are always a popular photo option at the end of the trail at the marsh.

And yes, I occasionally make the cut of the photo editor.

Dan Hikes to the Squirrel Point Lighthouse in Arrowsic, Maine

How would you pronounce Arrowsic?  Answer below from a born and bred Mainer.

After hiking at Reid State Park on the coast of Maine near Georgetown (click here for that blog) this early sub-freezing December morning, my hiking buddy Paul Rosenblum has one more trail for us.  Driving back up Route 127 from the coast, Paul turns in at Bald Head Road for the parking area at the end of this gravelly road.

With crusty snow still on the ground after a weekend storm, we have a clearly-marked, blue blaze trail into the woods to the Kennebec River.  Though I step carefully in places, the trail is basically snow-free.

Off to Squirrel Point Lighthouse

Amigo Paul leading the way

In the 18th and 19th century, the Kennebec River was the most important commercial waterway in Maine. Raw materials, including a lucrative trade in beaver pelts, were exported from Au Canada.  With few roads and many islands, local residents used the river as their highway.

On to the Kennebec River

Just a mile hike to the lighthouse, the trail takes us to the well-maintained lighthouse, keeper’s home, sloping-to-the-water boat house, and oil house.  The lighthouse keeper is so named for his responsibility to keep the wick burning for the lighthouse flame that is then reflected off the Fresnel lens; he also had the responsibility to rescue boats that ran aground in this narrow part of the waterway.

Some nut at Squirrel Point Light

The keeper’s place to the left

Boathouse with a ramp to slide the rescue boat into the Kennebec River

Our conversation turns to making retirement work.  As a ten year veteran of the retirement game, I offer that after an initial period of post-work angst of how am I ever going to fill the time, I now find that retirement gives me the gift of time. By that I mean, I don’t have to squeeze in what I want to do.  Of course, retirement can suck the burly rag without one’s health, enough resources, social contacts, and a suitable partner.

In Big Sur, California in retirement with a very suitable partner

My days in retirement with Hannah have me drafting and fine tuning my hiking pieces for this blog.  I picked up pickleball and found a cadre of athletic, active folks for regular contact.  And that’s just the beginning of my active life! In addition to pickleball, I choose from going to the gym, attacking the ping pong ball, walking the beaches, biking country roads, or hiking coastal and mountain trails.  If you can keep your lunch down, I apologize for these incessant humble brags.

Ideal on a still, sub-freezing morning on the coast of Maine, the trail to Squirrel Point Light is an easy, level family-friendly hike with parking for ten vehicles.  Having a good buddy to hike with makes it even better.

Good buddy PR and his pearly whites

Arrowsic – Longtime resident of Maine, Paul gives me the down low on this pronunciation.  – A-rue-sic.  No arrow at all.

Dan Hikes at Reid State Park in Georgetown, Maine

My hiking buddy Paul Rosenblum is toughening me up in ways that would make you proud.  Believe it or not, he has me hiking in winter in Maine.  Though the word on the street had been that I am soft, but maybe, times, they are achangin’.

PR with some Dunkin’

Let’s be clear, I’m not that tough.  Paul originally wanted to hike up Mount Pleasant near Bridgeton in the damn mountains of Maine in winter.  That hike was to take place just days after 6-12” snowstorm would hit the area.  Wisely, I spoke up, wondering if he had anything coastal?

And coastal he did! 

Tougher than believed to be, bundled up and ready to rock and roll at sunrise

Paul and I hike early, I mean early, in winter when there is less than nine hours of daylight.  Awaking to a 4A, I prep for what promises to be a 24F morning.  That includes three layers of shirts, winter hiking tights under my jeans, heavy winter coat, ski cap, and double layer mittens, and an “expect the good” attitude. 

With 90 miles of driving ahead up the coast through Brunswick and Bath, then turning towards the Atlantic on the Georgetown peninsula, in Freeport (north of Portland) I pick up Dunkin’ coffee and a muffin for me and donut for Paul. The pandemic has eliminated our usual pre-hike breakfast at a local greasy spoon dishing with the waitress and feasting on coffee, eggs over easy, home fries, and multi-grain toast. 

Arriving simultaneously outside the gate to Reid State Park, Paul and I have a ¾ mile paved road to Half Mile Beach just as the sun comes up. 

With the winds calm, we have an ideal morning for hiking/beach walking.  Really, you Arizonans and Californians! It’s quite pleasant to hike in the twenties, as long as there is no wind. Turning south towards the coastal inlet, we have snow-covered sand for firmer walking.

Half Mile Beach

U-turning back up the beach, we cross the rocks to One Mile Beach, with the rising sun to the east.  Paul and I go way back to my days as a prof at the U (that is University of New England) and he an elementary school teacher with out-sized enthusiasm who came to my teacher education classes to wow my students.  Hiking has kept us connected since I retired nearly ten years ago.

Mile Beach

Our early December morning has us getting outdoor, mask-free exercise in these Coronavirus Times. And best of all, a vaccine is on the horizon.  Our exemplary Governor Janet Mills is challenged to decide the priority for getting the vaccine; which I will get it in a heartbeat now that Dr. Fauci says so and together Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama are lifting their sleeves to get it publicly.

But who gets the vaccine after front line health care workers and nursing homes? Some wonder why give a vaccine to a 90-year-old with dementia before a single mother of four who works at Wal-Mart? Me included. 

Dr. Shah and Governor Mills

Maine’s top CDC public health official, Dr. Nirav Shah, says that he disagrees with the policy of giving the vaccine to the elderly first.  His recommendation for his in-laws who, though older are in good health and can socially distance, is, You know what?  I’m sorry, but there are others that I need to get the vaccine to first, so that when you guys get vaccinated, the world you come back into is ready to receive you.

No easy decision.  I am happy not to be Governor Rothermel.

Reid State Park