Difficulty: Easy-moderate. Indian Point Blagden Preserve has three trails. The Big Woods Trail leaves from the parking area and is 1.3 miles long. It is not a loop trail, so a hike of the entire trail would be 2.6 miles, out and back. The shorter Shore and Fern trails are both located at the end of the Big Woods Trail. All three trails travel over fairly even terrain, though the Big Woods Trail does descend gradually as it nears the shoreline.
How to get there: From Ellsworth, drive south on Route 3 (toward Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park). In approximately 8.5 miles, cross onto Mount Desert Island and bear right at the first fork, taking Route 102/198 toward Somesville. Drive 1.8 miles and turn right onto Indian Point Road. Drive 1.7 miles and bear right at the first fork. Drive approximately 200 yards to the preserve entrance on the right.
Information: Located on the western side of Mount Desert Island, on the Indian Point peninsula, Indian Point Blagden Preserve features old forests and more than 1,000 feet of rocky shore on Western Bay. Early records indicate that Indian Point was first settled in the 1700s, but the land has generally remained forests and field. Donald and Zelina Blagden, who owned the land and used it as their summer property for many years, donated it to The Nature Conservancy in 1968.
The forests, dominated by red spruce, northern white cedar and balsam fir, were untouched by the The Great Fires of 1947, a series of forest fires that burned nearly 17,000 acres of eastern and central Mount Desert Island, according to “The Complete Guide: Mount Desert Island & Acadia National Park” by James Kaiser.
The woods of Indian Point Blagden Preserve are generally mature, although there is evidence that some areas were cut in the past. Yellow and white birch, red oak and red maple are more common along the forest edge in forest gaps created by blowdowns, according to The Nature Conservancy website, www.nature.org.
The Big Woods Trail, which is 1.3 miles long, crosses through a field and an old apple orchard before terminating at the beginning of the shorter Shore and Fern trails, both of which lead to the shore. Exploring all three trail will be a little bit more than 3 miles of hiking.
The preserve supports abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, porcupines, ruby-crowned kinglets, osprey, bald eagles, 12 species of warblers, and six woodpecker species, as well as harbor seals that sun on rock ledges along the shore.
The trails are for foot traffic only; bicycles, pets and motorized vehicles are not allowed. Stay on the trails – which are blazed in blue (Big Woods Trail), red (Fern Trail) and yellow (Shore Trail) paint – and respect areas marked as private property. Leave what you find, and carry out all litter. Fires, smoking, camping and picnicking are prohibited. Read the complete list of preserve use policies at www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/maine/explore/preserve-use-policies.xml.
The preserve is open to the public for free from dawn to dusk, though donations can be left in a box by the red building beside the preserve parking area. The Nature Conservancy suggests a donation of $2, which will assist the conservancy in the maintenance and upkeep of the Indian Point Blagden Preserve and their many other preserves.
The Nature Conservancy is “a conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people,” as stated on its website. The conservancy works in 30 countries and all 50 states in the US, where it has protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide.
Download a map of Indian Point Blagden Preserve at www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/maine/explore/indpointmap.pdf.
Personal note: While hiking the trails of Indian Point Blagden Preserve on a windy March day, I stumbled across two white-tailed deer, which fled before I could capture them on my camera, though I did get a chance to snap some photos of chickadees and a few red squirrels, which had emerged from their winter nests to forage in the sun.
I enjoyed many things about the walk — the old forest, with its abundance of mushrooms and towering trees; the views of the ocean along the shore trail; the old benches and Adirondack chairs that have been dedicated to various families and people along The Shore Trail; and the sunny meadow and old apple orchard, sheltered from the wind and home to a variety of ground-nesting birds.
After the hike, I had just started by drive back home when a deer stepped out of the woods on the left side of the road. I pressed on the brakes and idled in the middle of the road as the animal moved back to the edge of the woods, paused and looked back at me. Farther into the woods was another deer, also staring at me as I fumbled with my camera. They remained for a few minutes, sniffing the air as I took several photos. It wasn’t until a car drove up behind me that the two deer — perhaps the same pair I spooked while hiking earlier that day — turned, showed me their fluffy white tails, and dashed into the forest.