Pine trees aren’t going to solve your problems, no matter how many hours you spend spilling your guts to their trunks (they are great listeners, though, aren’t they?). And an empathetic squirrel won’t take a break from his nut-hunting to give you a comforting hug and tell you everything’s going to be OK. But there is some kind of magic that happens in the woods—a natural effect of nature that can calm a worrying mind. It doesn’t take long, either. An hour on a local trail amid the rustling leaves and the dirt is enough to set my mind right again.
- Hilton-Winn Preserve: Parking and trailhead off Berwick Road, Ogunquit
Walk amid forested wetlands and past open fields on this 1.3-mile hike. The River Loop Trail crosses the Ogunquit River, where you’ll hear frogs diving for cover as you pass. The boardwalk is easy-going and flat, but there are some hills to get your heart rate up, too.
- Viles Arboretum: Trailhead and parking at the arboretum, 153 Hospital St., Augusta
Wander 224 acres that include wide open fields, a rock garden and a diversity of trees and plants. There’s an incredible hosta garden to check out in warmer months, and the art installations are worth stopping to ponder over. It’s right off a main road, but feels remote once you’re on the trails.
- Dodge Point: Trailhead and parking off River Road, Newcastle
There are 6.1 miles of trails to explore here, and they’re all lovely. But the Shore Trail, with its pine needle floor and that view of the Damariscotta River, is simply perfect. Stop to hang out by the water’s edge for a bit. You won’t regret it
- Saco Heath: Trailhead and parking off Buxton Road, Saco
There’s a scenic gem sitting just beyond an unassuming trailhead off Buxton Road in Saco. This 1,223-acre preserve includes woodland areas and a raised coalesced bog. The 1-mile trail includes a boardwalk built with wonderfully mismatched planks that seem to extend on into forever.
- Cliff Trail: Trailhead is off the Harpswell Town Office parking lot, 263 Mountain Road, Harpswell
The Cliff Trail is a splendid 2.3-mile loop that runs along Strawberry Creek on one side and has stunning views of Long Reach from 150-foot cliffs on the other. You might even spot some fairy houses.
An excellent resource for trail information around the state is www.mainetrailfinder.com. More info and directions to the trails listed above can be found there.
Shannon Bryan is the editor of Maine Women Magazine.