Oh sure, the tender greens of spring are sweet. The crunch of snow underfoot is crisp and satisfying. The shifting shadows of a summer walk are a delight. But really, is there any time more spectacular to hike than in autumn, in Maine? We are blessed with the magical palette of staunch evergreens against the chorus of the deciduous orchestra, and perfect temps that invite your sweater to come along even if it ends up around your waist mid-hike.
There is a hike for everyone among our many preserves: flat and broad, gnarly and challenging, or anything in between. One way to find your path is to jump in on one of our guided hikes: Wednesday Wanders is a weekly offering that explores a different preserve each time; our Queer Outing Club meets monthly to offer camaraderie and community. Year-round naturalist hikes focus on particular themes, like fall trees, lichens, or vernal pools. A call to our office for a hike suggestion is always welcome!
With autumn, however, comes hunting season so safety is our top priority. With the exception of Hidden Valley Nature Center, hunting is permitted on all of our preserves so we encourage all hikers and dogs to wear prominent blaze outerwear. Hats and bandanas are an inexpensive way to sport your bright orange, as are vests – both human and canine. We know our hunter friends are careful and mindful but an abundance of caution is never a bad idea.
Because there is no hunting at Hidden Valley Nature Center, it provides a place to wander 30 miles of trails without the possibility of running into a hunter. Leashed dogs are encouraged to accompany their people and assured they will not be mistaken for a deer or turkey! Soon, our Roland S. Barth Welcome Center will offer a place to check in, get a trail recommendation and warm up at the fire pit. For now, though, a trail map at the kiosk will direct to the glories of the kettle hole bog’s scarlet carpet, the glowing birches along the shores of Little Dyer Pond and the valley vistas from the Bluff Trail. Along the way, be sure to check out the cabins and yurt that could be your home base for a weekend of hiking (or skiing, come winter).
Regardless of where you go, get out into this enchanted time in the cycle of Midcoast Maine’s wondrous seasons and let the essence of nature fill your lungs and your soul.
(Midcoast Conservancy is an innovative conservation organization working to protect and restore vital lands and waters on a scale that matters. For more information, go to midcoastconservancy.org.)