If you like hikes with a little mystery, you’ll enjoy the trail at the new Frank E. Woodworth Preserve on Ripley Neck in the Washington County town of Harrington.
“We designed it so you’re not really sure where the next blaze is going to be,” trail steward Deirdre Whitehead said. “Instead of doing every other tree blazed, I made sure that you kind of walk a few steps before you see the next one.”
“Blaze” refers to a bright blue mark painted on trees to keep hikers from accidentally straying off the 2.4-mile loop that winds through moss-carpeted woods and eventually emerges on the shore overlooking Pleasant Bay. The trail takes about an hour and a half to hike.
The newly completed loop was created by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a coastal land conservation group. The loop encompasses 32 preserves ranging from Babson Creek in the Mount Desert village of Somesville to Hog Island on Eggemoggin Reach.
The Frank E. Woodworth Preserve totals 130 acres. Most of the land is on Willard Point, but the refuge also includes parcels on Hog, Peter and George islands.
The preserve is named for a deceased local lobsterman. Frank E. Woodworth was a friend of the Milmine and Parsons families, who originally owned much of the 100-plus acres around Ripley Neck, including Narrows Island.
The fisherman often camped on the northern tip of Narrows Island during the summer fishing season. When Charles Milmine was growing up, Woodworth allowed him to accompany him to haul his traps.
“He was very patient with a young fellow,” Milmine recalled, during a phone interview from his Georgia home.
The summer resident remained friends with Woodworth, who died in 2002. Milmine admired the fisherman for his hard work ethic and unwavering integrity, not to mention his excellent cribbage skills.
So naming the preserve wasn’t hard when Milmine sold his family’s 130-acre property to Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 2007.
“I wanted to make a contribution to the coast of Maine, and I decided that would be a good piece to contribute,” Milmine said. “I wasn’t interested in having it developed.”
The preserve is somewhat off the beaten path. From Route 1, one drives about eight miles down Marshville Road. The four-vehicle parking area virtually guarantees no crowds.
On the wooded trail, where many of the trees are more than a century old, Whitehead could be found wrapping chicken wire around rough-sawn boards traversing boggy areas. The tread provides traction to keep hikers from slipping.
At times, Whitehead said, folks may come across squirrels, chipmunks, deer, porcupines, fox or even the occasional moose or black bear.
Listen to the chirping above and you’ll hear thrushes, warblers, robins, chickadees and kinglets.
At lookout points just off the trail, hikers can take in views of Alaska Cove and Pleasant Bay.
The terrain, itself, is not particularly difficult, but there are some steep uphills and downhills and several bogs to cross. It is not suitable for biking or handicapped access.
The preserve is open year-round, but the winding, hilly road to get there could make winter travel treacherous.
Frank E. Woodworth Preserve
Getting there: On Route 1 in Harrington, turn right onto Marshville Road. Drive eight miles, looking for a small, gravel parking lot on the left. A wooden sign marks the preserve.
Permitted uses: Hiking, hunting, picnics, pets (under owner’s control)
Not allowed: Camping, campfires, wheeled vehicles