Difficulty: Easy. The intersecting trails in the network total 1.6 miles and travel over a fairly smooth and even forest floor much of the way. Some of the trails are also mowed paths through small fields.
How to get there: Parking for this preserve is at the east trailhead for the Old Pond Railway Trail. From Route 1 in Hancock, take Point Road and drive 0.1 mile to the parking lot on the right, across from Hancock Town Hall. From there, walk along the side of Point Road (against traffic) for about 0.3 miles and the trailhead to Ice Pond Preserve will be on your left. Marked with a large sign, the trailhead is set back from the road and can be reached by a wide, mowed path. A driveway is located just before this mowed path. Be sure to stay on trail and respect the privacy of nearby landowners.
Information: Home to a small pond that area residents used to cut ice from, Ice Pond Preserve covers 42 acres of mossy forestland and small meadows. Owned and maintained by Crabtree Neck Land Trust, the preserve also features 1.6 miles of hiking trails, a brook and small wetland areas.
From the trailhead, Pond Trail passes through a stand of weeping evergreen trees (not native to the region) then travels along the edge of a tiny meadow as a mowed path. At about 0.1 mile, just before the ice pond, Pond Trail intersects with South Loop, which is 0.5 mile long and explores the southern end of the preserve.
Continuing on the Pond Trail, you’ll soon come to the ice pond where you’ll find a pair of wooden Adirondack chairs on both the south and north side. East of the pond is a tiny wetland featuring tall cattails, and near the edge of the pond is a tall tamarack (or eastern larch) tree. With needles, this tree looks like an evergreen, but it actually sheds its soft needles each fall and grows them back each spring.
Continuing on Pond Trail, which passes along the northwest side of the pond, you’ll come to an intersection with Brook Trail and East Trail in about 0.1 mile.
Brook Trail is about 0.3 mile long and leads through a mossy forest to Ironbound Restaurant off Route 1. Along the way, the trail passes close to a small brook. Keep an eye out for wild blueberries along this trail.
East Trail is about 0.6 mile long and ends with a small loop. It, too, travels through an incredibly mossy forest. The trail also features clusters of tall ferns and large beds of pale green lichen.
At about the 0.2 mile mark, the East Trail intersects with the South Loop. While all other trails are marked in blue blazes, the South Loop is marked with yellow. It also travels through a mossy forest, but it enters an open area just before the ice pond.
Short sections of cedar bog bridges are located in damp areas throughout the trail network. Each intersection is marked, and a trail map is located on a small kiosk at the trailhead.
In addition to blueberries, the preserve features a cranberry bog and wild strawberries, according to Crabtree Neck Land Trust. It’s an excellent habitat for a variety of animals. Foxes, deer, fishers, raccoons, bears and moose have been spotted by visitors. In addition, the forest is home to a wide variety of birds.
The trails are open to the public during daylight hours. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Off-road bicycles are permitted. Dogs are permitted but must be under control at all times. For more information, visit crabtreenecklandtrust.org.
Personal note: I planned to brave the crowds at Acadia National Park on Aug. 29, but my dog, Oreo, convinced me to change course and head for a lesser-known outdoor destination.
“How did he do that?” you might ask. Well, Oreo isn’t good with crowds. People and other dogs excite him to the point that he’ll yank on his leash. Sometimes he’ll bark. It’s not fun. So when I planned to hike in Acadia, I was going to leave Oreo home. The problem is, Oreo knows what hiking gear looks like. As I prepared for my outing, he watched me like a hawk. A sad hawk.
Fortunately for him, I’m a sucker for puppy eyes. “Adventure?” I asked. His ears perked up. His head tilted to the side. And just like that, I changed my plans.
Using the new Frenchman Bay Conservancy-Crabtree Neck Land Trust trail guide, I selected Ice Pond Preserve. Though I’d never been there before, I guessed that it would be relatively quiet on a Wednesday morning. I was right. We had the whole place to ourselves.
During the hike, I spotted a wide variety of mushrooms. Red, orange, pink, yellow — the fungi came in all colors. It popped from the moss and clung to the trees. In some areas of the forest, every few feet presented a new species.
We also spotted a few birds, including two robins that squawked and flew around us in circles. I assume they were being territorial. Oreo was quite intimidated.
While the ice pond was pretty, I wouldn’t let Oreo swim in it. Vibrant green algae had collected along its edges, and swirls of it floated over the pond’s surface. Having just written a story for the BDN about how blue-green algae can be harmful to dogs, I was wary.
After the hike, to make it up to Oreo, we drove to the nearby Little Tunk Pond Preserve. (Twenty-five minutes is “nearby” in Maine.) There we found a sandy beach and clear water.