Difficulty: Easy. The 1.5-mile loop trail travels over fairly even terrain to several scenic locations along the shore. The trail is well-traveled and marked with blazes. Be careful of exposed tree roots and rocks.
How to get there: From Route 15 in Deer Isle, turn onto the Sunshine Road at Mill Pond Mobil. Drive 1.2 miles and bear left at the fork onto Greenlaw District Road. (Watch for traffic coming around the bend.) Drive about 0.9 miles to the parking area, which is on the right and marked with a sign.
Information: Shore Acres Preserve is one of the many places hikers and wildlife watchers can explore on Deer Isle. With a loop trail that is about 1.5 miles long, the preserve is a great place for families and dog walkers. It’s also the ideal spot for people looking for a short, easy hike to the ocean.
The preserve is owned and maintained by the Island Heritage Trust, a nonprofit organization working for the environmental and scenic protection of Deer Isle and Stonington.
From the gravel parking area of Shore Acres Preserve, a trail heads into the forest to a kiosk, where hikers can sign the trail register and leave comments about their experience. Brochures about the trail and the land trust are also available at the kiosk.
Continuing past the kiosk, the blue-blazed trail travels over a rocky area and soon reaches a fork, the beginning of the loop. Veer right to travel the loop counterclockwise, starting on the Stonewall Trail; or veer left to travel the loop clockwise, starting on the Goldthread Trail.
The Stonewall Trail, marked with orange blue blazes, travels through a mossy forest on a series of bog bridges and visits an old stone wall. Beware of a barbed wire fence that runs through the forest at the preserve’s boundary line not far from the trail. The trail leads to the shore, where you can turn right to take a side trail to a rocky beach.
The Shore Trail, marked with orange blazes, travels along the shore through more open terrain. Prepare to encounter tall grass, underbrush and raspberry bushes, which should remind you to check your body thoroughly for ticks after the walk. As the trail travels along the shore, there are several scenic outlooks and a few places you can access the rocky shore and water.
The preserve lies on Oak Point Granite, one of the two granite bodies on Deer Isle, according to the Island Heritage Trust brochure. The pink granite crystallized some 371 million years ago, its principal materials being reddish potassium feldspar, cream-colored sodium feldspar and quartz.
The view from the shore is also explained in the brochure. To your left (north) is Oak Point with Good Island in the foreground. Moving right is Campbell Island, then White Island and several points and coves of Greenlaw Neck and Stinson Neck.
The Shore Trail leads to a letterbox — a wooden compartment nailed to a tree that contains a waterproof box, rubber stamp and notebook used in an outdoor activity called “letterboxing” — then turns away from the shore to meet Goldthread Trail, which was named for the landscapes abundance of goldthread, a low-lying plant that produces delicate white flowers in the spring. This trail is also marked with orange blazes and travels through a forest filled with moss and ferns. It will lead you back to the beginning of the loop not far from the trailhead.
Keep in mind that the preserve is open to day use only; fires are prohibited; and groups over 12 must obtain permission from the Island Land Trust. As always, leave
plants and rocks where you find them, and pick up litter. The trails are designed for foot traffic only. And dogs are permitted but must be on kept on leash.
The trails are maintained by volunteers of the Island Heritage Trust, which was founded by local residents in 1987. Since then, they have obtained conservation easements of more than 771 acres on Deer Island and Stonington, protecting more than 13 miles of shore. The trust has also taken ownership of 18 properties, including Mark Island, Settlement Quarry and Shore Acres Preserve.
The trust’s offices are in a building next to the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society at 420 Sunset Road. For information, call 207-348-2455, email email@example.com, or visit www.islandheritagetrust.org.
Personal note: The island towns of Deer Isle and Stonington are home to a several walking trails that are especially prized by bird watchers. Some trails are open to dogs, and some aren’t. So driving to Deer Isle with my dog Oreo on Aug. 29, I visited the Island Heritage Trust website to narrow down which trails would be open to my furry hiking buddy.
I was surprised to see that the land trust had a whole page dedicated to dog-friendly trails. I had several to choose from, including Causeway Beach, Settlement Quarry, Tennis Preserve and Shore Acres Preserve. I printed out a few online brochures of the various trails and hit the road.
We ended up at Shore Acres Preserve because I wanted to see the ocean and perhaps catch a glimpse of some shore birds.
The trail was well-traveled, but on that particular Friday, I only ran into one family of four while traveling the loop. On a long leash, Oreo waded through the floating seaweed and splashed about in the salty water. He also showed some interest in the shells I picked out of dips in the rosy granite. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ocean, so many things were new to him.
As I relaxed on the warm granite along the shore, watching Oreo explore, I thought about how vibrant the colors were. The rosy granite, broken up by lime green grasses and edged with browns of shifting seaweed. The ocean — teal, turquoise and aquamarine. The sky, a truer blue. And at my back was the mossy forest — all shades of green, from pale lichens to deep emerald evergreens.
I did see a few shorebirds. In addition to a group of gulls loafing on rocks just offshore, I spied a few small long-legged wading birds through a gap in the trees from the Shore Trail. I couldn’t positively identify the birds, but a friend of mine thinks they may have been lesser yellowlegs, in the same family as sandpipers.