Add these 5 hikes to your list of places where hunting isn’t allowed
By Aislinn Sarnacki
In Maine, everyone is familiar with the fall hunting season. It’s a time when most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, frost coats our windshields and outdoor attire includes an abundance of blaze orange.
As a hiker, I find that last part to be especially important.
Throughout November and into December, I make sure to wear plenty of bright colors while sharing the outdoors with the state’s many hunters. I want to be as visible as possible, for added safety.
While hiking, I usually wear a blaze orange hat and an obnoxiously bright pink jacket – or a blaze orange vest. I have a bright orange bandana for my dog, as well.
A lifelong Mainer, I’m used to sharing outdoor spaces with hunters, trappers, fishermen, snowmobilers, mountain bikers and all sorts of other recreationists. But I also understand the peace of mind that comes with hiking on properties that are off-limits to hunting during this time of year.
I wrote a column in 2017 that included eight places to hike in Maine where hunting is not permitted. It recently reran on bangordailynews.com.
It included Acadia National Park, one of my go-to outdoor destinations this time of year, when the crowds have died down and the landscape is still absolutely stunning.
Just the other day, I visited Acadia’s famous Sand Beach and hiked the nearby Great Head Trail with my dog, Juno. It may be her favorite place on Earth.
She digs in the sand until she can barely move her legs, then I fill in the hole so no one breaks their ankle while walking the beach. Sand Beach is off-limits to dogs during the summer, but rules change in the fall.
But you can never have too many trail options. So here are some more hiking locations that are closed to hunting, scattered throughout Maine:
Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport
Wolfe’s Neck is just one of several Maine state parks where hunting is not permitted, and it’s an excellent place to enjoy both the forest and the shore. The park features about 5 miles of walking trails, including the wheelchair-accessible White Pines Trail, which forms a loop through the woods near a salt marsh. Some other trails in the system are rocky and steep, so there’s something for everyone. Dogs are permitted if on leash.
A few other state parks where hunting is prohibited are Cobscook Bay State Park, Ferry Beach State Park, Shackford Head State Park and Reid State Park. A full list is located on the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands website. Also, hunting isn’t allowed at state historic sites or memorials. For information, visit maine.gov/dacf/parks.
Furth Wildlife and Talalay Nature Sanctuary in Surry
Most of Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s preserves are open to hunting, but there are some exceptions. The land trust’s 58-acre Furth-Talalay property is closed to hunting, and it features about 2 miles of trails that form two loops.
The trails travel through a lovely forest to cross bubbling brooks on wooden footbridges. It’s a tranquil place to enjoy wildlife and walk under the branches of old trees.
Right across the road, Carter Nature Preserve is also off-limits to hunting. It’s home to about 1.5 miles of trails that lead to a cobble beach on Morgan’s Bay. Dogs are not allowed on both preserves except for two stretches of trail on Carter Nature Preserve — including a section that leads to the shore. For information, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org.
Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town and Alton
Covering 2,460 acres, this sprawling preserve is a haven for songbirds, otters, beavers, ducks, amphibians and more. It offers more than 7 miles of intersecting hiking trails, including the wheelchair-accessible Trail of the Senses, which travels along the edge of a meadow and banks of a pond to benches and observation platforms.
Education is a key component of the Hirundo mission, so as you wander, you’ll notice plenty of interpretive signs that offer information about your surroundings. The refuge also offers outdoor workshops and events. And, if you’re a fan of geocaching, there are 14 hidden geocaches to find throughout the trail network.
Dogs are not permitted on the property. For information, visit hirundomaine.org.
Richard S. Hodson Preserve and Rheault Trail in Camden
Hunting is permitted on 32 of the 38 preserves managed by Coastal Mountains Land Trust, granted hunters follow certain guidelines. That leaves six preserves where hunting is not permitted.
The Hodson preserve is on one of them. The property features a 1.2-mile hike that travels through a forest of oaks, aspens and sugar maples to visit a blueberry barren and hilltop that provides open views of the region.
The other CMLT preserves that are off-limits to hunting, due to original land donor intent, are Fernalds Neck, Harkness, McPheters, Beauchamp Point and Youngs Neck. For information, visit coastalmountains.org.
Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary in Elliotsville Township
Hunting and trapping are not permitted on any of Maine Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries, and that includes one of the most popular hiking destinations in the state: Borestone Mountain.
Rising nearly 2,000 feet above sea level, this mountain offers breathtaking views of the 100-Mile Wilderness region.
The hike, out and back, is 4.2 miles and includes plenty of steep and rocky sections.
Late fall is a great time of year to enjoy the mountain while it’s not crowded, but make sure you arrive prepared for the cold weather and potential for ice and snow. Dogs are not permitted.
The other Maine Audubon sanctuaries, all off limits to hunting, are Fields Pond, Josephine Newman, Hamilton, Mast Landing, Gilsland Farm, Scarborough Marsh and East Point. For information, visit maineaudubon.org.