Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The trails total about 1.5 miles and travel over rocky, uneven terrain on the gentle slope of Caterpillar Hill.
How to get there: From Blue Hill, take the Route 15 (Mines Road) toward Brooksville and Sedgwick. Continue on Route 15 until you reach Caterpillar Hill Scenic Turnout. (The road will change names from Mines Road to Snow’s Cove Road to Caterpillar Hill Road.) Just after the turnout, turn right onto a gravel road called Cooper Farm Road. The trailhead parking area is a short distance down the road on the right, marked by a sign and a kiosk.
Information: While driving along Route 15 in Sedgwick, people often pullover at the Caterpillar Hill Scenic Overlook to take in stunning views of the coast. From atop the hill on a clear day, one can see to the islands of Penobscot Bay, Eggemoggin Reach, and the Camden Hills.
Fortunately for people who enjoy a good stroll, there are some trails in that scenic area as well. Just below the roadside overlook is a network of footpaths that travel around the blueberry fields and mossy woods of Caterpillar Hill, thanks to Blue Hill Heritage Trust.
In 2001, the BHHT purchased the 134-acre property known as Cooper Farm on Caterpillar Hill with the support of the former landowners, Island Heritage Trust, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and people from surrounding communities. Since then, BHHT has constructed about 1.5 miles of trails for the public to enjoy year round, dawn to dusk.
The trails form three loops and are marked with blue blazes. Signs mark each intersection, and a map is posted on a kiosk at the trailhead. Trail maps are also available online at bluehillheritagetrust.org. And $5 BHHT trail guides are available at BHHT office at 258 Mountain Road in Blue Hill. The office is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
According to the BHHT trail map of the network, it’s just 0.1 mile from the trailhead to where the trail splits and the Upper Loop begins. The Upper Loop is 0.5 miles, the Middle Loop is 0.7 miles, and the Lower Loop is 0.25 miles.
The signs can be confusing because they don’t match the trail names on the map. If you stay on what is signed as “Loop Trail,” you will travel along the outer edge of all three loops. The “Upper Cut-Off” trail and “Lower Cut-Off” trail are simply the two trails that travel across the network, breaking it into three loops rather than one.
Hunting on the property is by permission only. Hikers are encouraged to wear blaze orange, especially during the month of November. Hunting in Maine is not permitted on Sundays.
A few more rules: Dogs are permitted on the Caterpillar Hill trails if kept on a leash at all times. During the summer, the public is welcome to pick blueberries on the property, but blueberry rakes are not allowed. Carry out all trash. Stay on established trails. Camping and fires are not permitted unless explicitly authorized. Trails are for foot traffic only; this includes cross-country skis in the winter.
For information, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org or call 374-5118.
Personal note: A storm of snow and ice swept through Maine earlier this month, knocking down trees and powerlines across the state. Since then, land trusts and other organizations that maintain trials have been working to clean things up.
There was still some work to do on the trails of Caterpillar Hill on Sunday, Nov. 22, when Derek and I traveled to Sedgwick to walk the three loops with our dog Oreo. But because the trails are marked so well, we didn’t get lost. If we couldn’t see the next blue blaze, we knew that a tree (or several trees) was blocking the trail and we navigated around it. Whenever the fallen trees were small, we tried to move them off trail, but many of the fallen trees were too large to move safely.
“We should have brought a chainsaw or something,” Derek said to me during the walk, half joking. It got me to thinking, though. Land trusts really must need volunteers right now to help with the blowdowns.
The three of us followed signs for the Loop Trail, traveling counterclockwise. Starting in a blueberry field near the top of the hill, the trail descended and crossed a gravel road called Walker Pond Road, then headed into a mossy woods filled with tall cedar trees.
Throughout the hike, the forest changed. We passed red oaks, white pines, beech trees and fragrant balsam firs. Boulders strewn throughout the forest were covered in moss, lichen, ferns and fungi. We took time to pause at one especially mossy boulder to check out the mini ecosystem, noting the orderly clumps of cinnamon-colored spores on the underside of ferns.
While investigating the letterbox near the trail, a black spider crawled out and gracefully floated to the ground to take cover under the leaf litter. I may have let out a yelp of fear. I’m still getting over my spider fear, I guess.
As we walked uphill near the end of the hike, I warmed up enough to shed my fleece jacket. The temperature had climbed to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, when just two days
before, it was frozen in the 20s. Maine weather is crazy.
Back at the parking area, I was reluctant to leave the beautiful spot. But after checking ourselves and Oreo for ticks, we hopped back in the car and headed back to Bangor. On the way, I spotted an adult bald eagle perched in a tree beside the road. It appeared to be searching for prey in a field. As soon as I pointed it out, Derek pulled over so I could take a few photos from afar.