Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The preserve’s two miles of trails lead visitors through a hilly forest to the shore of the Bagaduce River. Exposed tree roots and rocks make footing tricky in some places. The trail is also windy in some places; always follow the blue blazes to stay on trail.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 15 and Route 176 in Sedgwick, drive south on Route 15 (Snow’s Cove Road) for approximately 1.3 miles to a small parking lot and a trailhead on the west side of the road.
Information: Snow’s Cove Preserve is a 58-acre tract of land that is home to roughly two miles of walking trails that lead to the shore of the scenic Bagaduce River in Sedgwick. Donated to the Blue Hill Heritage Trust in 2007 by Bill Brown and Paul Trowbridge, the small preserve is open for the public to enjoy year round.
If facing the trailhead kiosk, the Snow’s Cove Access Trail starts to your right and parallels the road to join with a wide trail used in the winter by snowmobiles. Follow the wide trail away from the road (noticing the blue blazes painted on trees along the way) and you’ll soon reach a wooden sign that reads “Trail” and points left into the woods. From that point on, the trail is narrow, more like a typical hiking trail.
You’ll start on the Fern Rock Loop, a 1.5-mile “lollipop trail,” meaning it resembles the shape of a lollipop by starting out as one trail and splitting into a loop. The trail is named after several fern-covered boulders that are located throughout the preserve. One especially large boulder is located near a footbridge where the trail approaches the shore of the Bagaduce River.
In addition to the Fern Rock Loop, hikers can explore the 0.25-mile Shore Trail, which traces the river, then arcs back to reconnect with the Fern Rock loop.
Both trails lead to outlooks on the river that are great for picnicking and watching for wildlife, such as eagles and osprey.
Other highlights of the preserve is the variety of plants thriving in the forest, including large cedar trees and giant white pines. The terrain is rather hilly, so prepare for a workout. Also, both trails are twisty, with abrupt turns that can cause hikers to walk off trail. Be sure to always follow the blue blazes.
Public use guidelines are listed on the trailhead kiosk and include staying on trail and carrying out all trash. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on leash at all times. The trails are for day use only; camping and fires are not permitted unless explicitly authorized. Hunting is by permission only. All inquiries and comments about the property should go to Blue Hill Heritage Trust at 374-5118. For information, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org.
Personal note: The sunniest and warmest day of the week, Sunday, March 29, truly felt like spring, with the temperature climbing up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, snowshoes were necessary for our hike of Snow’s Cove Preserve in Sedgwick. The snow was melting — but slowly. The snowcover was still knee deep.
As they often do, my fiance Derek and Oreo accompanied me on the little adventure. As I signed the register at the trailhead, Oreo pranced around and rolled on top of the crusty snow. It seemed that he was enjoying the sun just as much as we were.
As we snowshoed along the trail, I noticed a variety of trees and plants — yellow birch trees, their golden bark shining in the sun; a stand of large cedar trees; a skeletal tree cloaked with wispy green moss; and a giant white pine tree stretching up into the blue sky. These things combined made the forest an especially beautiful place to be that afternoon.
Oreo was less interested in the trees and more interested in the red squirrels scampering about.
At an outlook on the edge of the Bagaduce River, we sat on a rock to snack on chocolate chip cookies and iced tea. Oreo had his own treats — though I did sneak him a non-chocolatey piece of my cookie. The river was still frozen solid, but we made sure to keep a hold on Oreo’s leash as he rolled about on the snow. We didn’t want him galloping off into the center and breaking through thin ice.
Based on the names on the trail register, we were the first guests to visit the preserve since early winter. Nevertheless, the trail was clear of blowdowns and relatively easy to follow, with only a few sections that could have used a few more blue blazes on the trees. In those few spots where we lost the trail, we backtracked to the last blue blaze we’d seen, then did a little searching. It never took us more than a few minutes to find the next blaze. In some of those situations, I’m guessing that a tree that had been marked previously was on the ground, under the snow. Usually trail volunteers will visit trails in the spring to freshen up the trail markers and clear the trails. If you’re interested in helping your local land trust do that kind of work, I bet they could use your help.
On the way home, we stopped by a public landing in Ellsworth so I could look for birds. In the distance, I spied at least four pairs of goldeneyes — little ducks with golden eyes — as well as a large group of gulls and a few mallards. And just before I was about to head back to the car, the group of gulls scattered, and a bald eagle appeared around the bend. I craned my neck as it flew directly overhead, so close I could see its pale yellow eyes inspecting me. Directly overhead, the bird barely fit in the frame of my 100-400mm camera lens from wingtip to wingtip. It circled a few times, then headed inland, pursued by three pesky gulls. I watched until it was just a speck in the sky.