Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The hike is 1 mile, out and back. The trail travels gradually uphill on the way to the waterfall. Exposed tree roots, rocky areas and a few muddy areas makes footing tricky in some spots.
How to get there: In the Blue Hill village, at the intersection of Route 172 and Route 176 (also known as East Blue Hill Road), take Route 176 and drive 0.6 miles east, then park on your right at the AB Herrick Memorial Landing on Peter’s Cove. The trailhead is across the road from the parking area, on the east side of the bridge over Peters Brook, and is marked with a blue and white Blue Hill Heritage Trust sign. A trail kiosk that includes a trail map and visitor registration book is located in the woods just a short distance from the road.
Information: Traveling through a quiet mossy forest of conifers, the 0.5-mile Peter’s Brook Trail follows the lively Peters Brook uphill from the ocean to a beautiful waterfall. Constructed and maintained by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, the trail lies on a conservation easement and is open year round for the public to enjoy.
Draining from the uplands east of Blue Hill village, Peters Brook (sometimes called Big Peters Brook) tumbles through the forest to empty into Peters Cove, which is a part of Blue Hill Bay. Little Peters Brook also empties into the cove.
In my search for background information about the property, I learned the Blue Hill was founded in the mid 1700s, and John Peters was among the town’s earliest settlers, according to the Blue Hill Historical Society.
A noted land surveyor, John Peters moved to Blue Hill in 1765, and by 1790, his estate was the largest in town, consisting of 35 acres of copper mining land, 35 acres of pasture and 1,692 acres of wild land. Throughout his years in Blue Hill, Peters became a shipbuilder and owner, and he was involved in a local sawmill and grist mill. In 1815, he built a mansion atop a hill on Peters Point, west of Peters Cove. That building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The public can now enjoy the shore of Peters Cove at the AB Herrick Memorial Landing, owned by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust. A combination of a sandy beach and rocky shoreline, the landing is a great spot for picnicking and launching kayaks and other small boats. It also serves as the parking area for the Peter’s Brook Trail.
(Blue Hill Heritage Trust spells it “Peter’s Brook Trail” with an apostrophe, though the brook it follows is technically called Peters Brook, without an apostrophe, because it is named after the Peters family.)
Maintained by Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Peter’s Brook Trail crosses privately-owned land that is protected by conservation easements. Public access is made possible through the permission of the landowner, so it’s especially important that visitors stay on the trail, pick up after themselves and respect the natural landscape and wildlife.
Since the trail is fairly wide, it’s easy to follow. The only confusing point is a short distance from the trailhead, when the trail comes to a “T.” At this intersection, turn left to continue on the trail. If you turn right, you’ll come to someone’s private field and residence.
Following Peters Brook, the trail travels through a forest composed mostly of conifers — spruce, white pine, hemlock, balsam fir and cedar trees — with a few oak trees scattered throughout. Growing under the shade of these trees, an abundance of mosses and hardy low-lying plants carpet the forest floor.
A few informal side trails here and there will bring you down to the edge of the water, where you can view several tiny waterfalls and churning pools.
The trail ends at a waterfall, which is unnamed as far as I know, but is certainly a sight to behold. There whitewater tumbles down over a steep set of natural rock steps to plunge into a calm shallow pool below.
While using this trail, it’s important to observe a few simple rules. Dogs are permitted if on leash at all times. Fires, camping and bikes are prohibited.
For information about the trail, including a trail map, visit bluehillheritagetrust.org or call 374-5118.
Personal note: It certainly didn’t seem like mid-December on Saturday when my husband Derek and I walked Peter’s Brook Trail with our dog, Oreo. The sun was shining and the temperature hovered in the 40s, rendering our winter hats and mittens unnecessary. Oreo, looking handsome in his new blaze orange Buff bandana, didn’t even need to wear a coat (aside from his permanent coat of short white and black fur, that is).
Honestly, I chose Peter’s Brook Trail because it was short and near our home; we had a family Christmas shopping trip planned for that afternoon, so we didn’t have much time for outdoor adventuring. Lucky for us, the trail turned out to be much more beautiful than I expected. The evergreen forest was truly “ever green”, even during this bleak time of year, when most of the world in Maine is composed of greys and browns. Crows raised a racket from the treetops, and red squirrels wandered up to us, chattering loudly and waving their bushy tails.
The nameless waterfall at the end of the trail was much grander than I expected. At its base,I carefully balanced on slick, algae-covered rocks, risking a cold plunge in the shallow water, to photograph it at different angles. Fortunately, I didn’t slip. Though the weather has been unseasonably warm this December, it’s not quite swimming weather … though Oreo would beg to differ. He had a nice dip before we walked back to trailhead.