Superb scenery rewards motorists navigating Brooksville

Oh, can there be anything in life to equal the joyous mélange of a beautiful day, glorious scenery, anfractuous roads and a hot motorcycle?

Well, there are a few things, some of them even done outdoors. But for a motorcycle rider whose “adventure riding” plans don’t include the Pan American Highway or the desert madness of the Dakar Rally, it would be hard to top an exploration of Brooksville on a warm, sunny day.

The loop through Brooksville offers the rider smooth pavement and gravel roads, sweeping curves, panoramic vistas and the chance to get thoroughly lost without much risk of encountering marauding terrorists, drug cartels or a civil war.

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Comprising both state-numbered highways and local byways, the route out to and around Cape Rosier winds through fields and woods past narrow beaches, peaceful coves and beautiful, working farms, some of which even the best navigator is likely to pass two or three times before realizing he has no idea where in Brooksville he is.

Fortunately, all roads seem to lead, eventually, either to the Bagaduce Lunch — home of some of the best crab and lobster rolls in Maine — or the Bucks Harbor Market, a great source of sandwiches and pizza, and the attached Bucks restaurant, where chef Jonathan Chase can provide a fine dinner.

From Blue Hill, the most direct approach to Brooksville is out the Mines Road — Route 15 — to the T where it joins Route 175 —  Snow’s Cove Road. Take a left toward Stonington and, about 2½ miles farther on, turn right on Route 175 toward Brooksville.

That’s where the fun begins, as well as the confusion.

Just past Walker Pond on the left, Route 176 heads up the hill toward blueberry barrens and distant views, then down the hill to Bucks Harbor, and the market where Sal and Jane got ice cream cones in Robert McCloskey’s “One Morning in Maine.”

Stay on Route 176 — the Coastal Road — past picturesque Orcutt Harbor then turn left on Cape Rosier Road. Historic Castine will be visible across Smith Cove.

A right onto Back Road leads through the Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park, across the Goose Falls Bridge, where the tide rushes through the mouth of Goose Pond and an inlet of Penobscot Bay, and into the tiny community of Harborside.

Take the unpaved Orrs Cove Road — also identified as the Harborside Road — past the Good Life Center founded by Scott and Helen Nearing on their Forest Farm in the 1950s.

The Ames Cove Road bears off to the right through woods and past farms, passing close to the outermost tip of Cape Rosier. The Weir Cove Road bears left and, just past its junction with the Ames Cove Road, sweeps down to the shore of secluded Bakeman Cove and its tiny beach.

Follow the Weir Cove Road, then turn right back onto the Cape Rosier Road. Turn left and you’ll find yourself headed back to Harborside.

After passing Smith Cove again, this time on the left, take a left onto Route 176, pass the Brooksville Free Public Library, and keep right on going. Eventually, you’ll pass the Tinder Hearth Bakery — superb bread baked in wood-fired ovens — the Brooksville Elementary School and, a few miles down the road, come to a junction with Route 175. Remember that?

A left turn will take you down the sweeping curve of Bridge Road and across the reversing falls of the Bagaduce River. Bagaduce Lunch is on the left.

For a shorter ride, turn right at the intersection of Route 176 and the Varnumville Road. You’ll wind up at the same junction.

Just past Bagaduce Lunch, Route 175 bears left to Penobscot and Route 176 bears right to the intersection with the Mines Road and the way to Blue Hill.

The Brooksville loop ride covers 25 to 30 miles, but allow some extra time for gawking at the views, a stop in the state park or side trips down interesting side roads.

Oh, and don’t forget you’ll need some extra time for your second or third pass through the Deep Brooksville maze.

Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]