This story was originally published in September 2013.
Ever since my dog Oreo came into my life, new questions come to mind every day. And during our short time together, we’ve already found a number of beautiful and fun trails to explore.
The following 10 places are just a few examples of the many wilderness areas you can explore with your dog in Maine:
Great Pond Mountain Wilderness in Orland totals over 2,300 acres and includes several multi-use roads and trails, and leashed dogs are permitted on all of these roads and trails except Hothole Brook Trail and Great Meadow Trail, due to the abundance of porcupines on these two trails. Great Pond Mountain and Flagg Hill are two great hikes for dogs and have amazing views at the top. Access is free. For more information, visit greatpondtrust.org.
Petit Manan Point Division of the Coastal Maine Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Steuben is a 2,166-acre refuge featuring two interpretive hiking trails – the Hollingsworth Trail (a 1.5 mile loop) and the Birch Point Trail (about 4 miles round trip) – which are open to the public and dogs on a leash, from dawn to dusk. The trails lead walkers through a variety of habitats, from raised coastal bogs to blueberry barrens to shingle beaches. Interpretation panels help hikers understand their surroundings. Access is free. For more information, visit fws.gov/refuges.
Pineland Public Reserved Land includes over 600 acres in the towns of Gray, North Yarmouth and New Gloucester. In this beautiful forest, your dog will enjoy challenging sections along the 3.2 miles of loop trails. On the north side of Depot Road is the 1.7 mile North Loop Trail, and on the south side of the road is the 1.5 mile South Loop Trail. Access is free. For more information, visit mainetrailfinder.com/trail/pineland-public-reserved-land/.
Cliff Trail on Great Island is a 2.3 mile loop trail near the highest point in Harpswell. On the trail, you can lead your dog through beautiful forest and cliffs up to 150 feet with spectacular views of Long Reach, where you might want to choke on a leash. And I’m sure your pup will love helping you find natural materials to build a fairy house in one of two areas along the designated fairy house trail. And if that’s not enough exercise for your pup, there are several other dog-friendly trails in Harpswell. Access is free. For more information, visit healthymainewalks.com/walks/cliff-trail.
Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island contains an extensive, if not daunting, network of multi-purpose trails and roads that help visitors and their leashed dogs explore the park’s many mountains, lakes, ponds, and beaches. Choose a route from the 120 miles of hiking trails and 28 miles of motorable roads, but for your dog’s sake, avoid Precipice Trail, Beehive, and other trails that include ladders and rungs. A dog-friendly suggestion: Gorham Mountain. Admission varies by length of use, time of year and vehicle. For more information, visit nps.gov/acad/index.htm.
Alewife wood reserve in Kennebunk is approximately 625 acres of woodland and the 45-acre Alewive Pond, conserved by the Kennebunk Land Trust in 1990. The reserve’s trial network, which is open to leashed dogs, totals 2.5 miles of multipurpose trails (mountain biking, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing) of easy to moderate difficulty. And if your dog doesn’t get all of his energy there, take him to another of the reserves near the trust, like Wonder Brook-Murphy Preserve (with its 2.5-mile trail system) or The Secret Garden. (with its 1.5 mile loop course). For more information, visit kennebunklandtrust.org.
Aroostook State Park in Près Isle is Maine’s first state park, established in 1939 on a 100-acre tract. Today, the park totals nearly 800 hectares thanks to donations and purchases of land. In addition to Quaggy Jo Mountain, the park encompasses Echo Lake. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash and are not allowed on the ski slopes in winter. Admission to the park varies by age and residence from free to $3. For more information, visit maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/index.pl.
Scraggly Lake Reserved Public Land in T7 R8 WELS is just northeast of Baxter State Park (where no pets are allowed) and includes a campground, hiking trail, and boat ramp for visitors and their dogs. The 10,000 acres of heavily forested land includes Scraggly Lake and a number of ponds, streams and bogs. The Owl’s Head Trail, which starts off Scraggly Lake Road, is a 4 mile, round trip hike. Access is free. For more information, visit mainetrailfinder.com/Trail/scraggly-lake-public-reserved-land-owls-head-trail.
Mont Bleu State Park at Weld, over 8,000 acres of state-owned public land, is Maine’s largest state park – lots to explore. Take your dog on the popular 3,187-foot Blue Mountain day hike, or if you’re looking for something less strenuous, try the hike to the top of Center Hill or check out some of the 25 miles of multi-use trails in the park. And if you’re still looking for more trails, Tumbledown Public Lands, with over 10 miles of hiking trails. For more information, search Mt. Blue at maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/index.pl.
Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area in North Berwick is 89 acres and includes the 866-foot-high Bauneg Beg mountain, which has three peaks and offers scenic views, according to the Great Works Regional Land Trust, which retained the property in 2001. The Bauneg Beg trail meanders through the forest, then through a large section of rocks called “Devil’s Den” and up to the highest peak, according to GWRLT. The hiking trails, Ginny’s Way, Tom’s Way, Linny’s Way and North Peak Loop also explore the mountain. Dogs are allowed on all trails. Access is free. For more information, visit gwrlt.org.