Taking advantage of what is probably the last day of summer until next year, Bre and I headed out to Orr's Island for a walk in the Coastal Studies Center woods belonging to Bowdoin College. The land was a gift to the college from Irma & William Thalheimer to be protected and used as a research and teaching facility.
We missed the turn (so pay attention when you're headed out there!) and arrived at the cribstone bridge over to Bailey Island. We turned around and headed back, looking very carefully at the directions and realizing we (ok, you're right, the dog can't read) were looking the wrong way as we drove right by Bayview Rd.
You'll drive all the way to the parking area which is on either side of the road. Check in at the information station (pictured above) and then head out to the trails. Try not to do what we did, which was to get turned around immediately and end up in the 'Laboratory area- no access' parts of the trails. I'm still not sure where I went wrong! I could say I was following Bre. Once she picks up a scent and realizes I am going the same way, she'll follow that person, dog or other animal right off a cliff!
I was attempting to get to Dog's Head (appropriately enough!) following first the Stone Wall Walk and the Long Cove Loop. Got lost on the Stone Wall Loop and came out at one of the labs (pictured below). After wandering around, realized the sign at the 'end' of the trail showed 'Restricted Access' - but it was such a nice, mowed pathway!
Reoriented and headed down the Brewer Cove Trail which we stuck with until we came to a downed tree across the path. Bre is showing her age and did not want to jump that log. She climbed over and it was a pathetic sight to behold. She did not want to continue along if this was what awaited, so we turned back at that point. We did make it around to where the Brewer Cove Trail and the Pine Needle Trail intersect.
This is a similar walk to what you find at Wolfe Neck Woods Park but it is much more 'natural'. Trees that have fallen across the paths are cut and moved aside but there are lots of tree roots, rocks and wet spots to wade through. I would not suggest going out, as I did, after a hard rain. Very soggy in spots. Very slick with all the fallen leaves and pine needles.
OK, so that's the hard part. The easy part? The pine scent all around you. The salty, tidal flats scent. Being out in the middle of the woods with no one else around. The peace and quiet. The water lapping on the shore as the tide comes in. The woodpeckers. The deer (3 whitetails). The end of the summer, the end of fall.
How to get there: Take Rt 24 from Cooks Corners and head toward Bailey Island. When you're on Great Island you will pass Mountain Rd (which, along with the bridge, connects Rts 24 + 123) on the right. Go 2.6 miles past Mountain Rd and turn right on Bayview Rd. It is 1 mile to the parking area.
Make a whole day of it and hike along the Giant Stairs Trail on Bailey Island, drive out to Land's End for fudge, have lunch at the Giants Stairs Seafood Grille and walk the CSC trails above.
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