Directions: From Main Street in Damariscotta, turn south onto School Street. Drive 0.3 miles and turn left onto Piper Mill Road. Drive 0.3 mile and there will be a small parking area for about 2-3 cars on the left on a sharp corner.
Castner Creek Community Forest in Damariscotta is a diamond in the rough. Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust acquired the 85-acre property in 2019. It was part of the Piper Village Subdivision. In 2020 University of Maine forestry graduate student Noah Begin did a site analysis of the property.
Currently there is only an old snowmobile trail on the property. COVID-19 has prevented trail development on the property, but Coastal Rivers plans to expand the trail system in the future.
From the parking area, a narrow, short trail enters the woods and leads to a wide snowmobile trail. The shaded trail goes through mixed growth forest, and is out of earshot of busy Damariscotta traffic.
This is a good trail to introduce young children to hiking, as the trail is short and goes out to tranquil Castner Creek. The trail is muddy in spots, where animal foot prints can be easily spotted. Look for small fish and frogs in the creek.
Cross the creek over a rustic rock bridge, go around a downed tree and enter the woods on the other side. Climb over a downed pine tree. The trail is easy to follow until it comes to a small clearing, where the bushes obscure the trail. On a recent hike, navigating to a second snowmobile trail sign (first before the creek) was possible, but the trail was closed in after that.
The property was once the site of an old mill and impoundment. Coastal Rivers acquired the property for recreation and to improve the water quality of Castner Creek, a tributary to the Damariscotta River.
Plan on 10-15 minutes to hike to the creek and back, and a little longer to hike on the other side of the creek to the second snowmobile sign and back.
(Paula Roberts writes the column “On the Trail in Lincoln County” for The Lincoln County News. The sixth edition of the book by the same name, which collects columns about 140-plus trails, is available at Lincoln County Publishing Co. in Newcastle and many other locations in the region. Proceeds from the sale of the book benefit local conservation organizations.)