Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The entire hike, from the parking area to Schoodic Bog and back, is about 3 miles. Most of the hike is on old gravel roads and a gravel multi-use trail, however, there are a few small hills and rocky sections along the way.
How to get there: From the Sullivan side of the Hancock-Sullivan Bridge on Route 1, drive 3.4 miles, then take a left on Punkinville Road. Drive 2 miles, then bear left onto Punkin Ledge Road. Drive 0.7 mile, then turn left onto Schoodic Bog Rd. A short distance down Schoodic Bog Road, on the right, you’ll find the parking lot for Schoodic Bog Preserve.
Information: At the foot of Schoodic Mountain in eastern Maine, the 150-acre Schoodic Bog is filled with water lilies and cattails, carnivorous pitcher plants and eastern painted turtles. Industrious beavers have also made their home there, living in great lodges made of sticks and mud. And with open water at its center, the bog also attracts one of the Maine’s most skilled fishers: the osprey.
This bog is protected thanks to the nonprofit Frenchman Bay Conservancy, which purchased the bog and surrounding upland forest in 2005, creating the 500-acre Schoodic Bog Preserve. This was made possible with help of a grant from Land for Maine’s Future.
Since the establishment of the preserve, FBC has constructed a parking area and blazed an easy trail leading to the bog that is just about 1.5 mile long, making for an out-and-back hike of about 3 miles.
From the preserve’s gravel parking area, a kiosk is located directly across Schoodic Bog Road and includes trail maps and guidelines for the preserve. From there, the route to the bog starts by tracing the rough, gravel Schoodic Bog Road northwest for 0.5 miles. Along the way, the route is marked with blue diamond FBC signs, which are posted on trees beside the road. A wooden arrow sign near the kiosk that reads “To Schoodic Bog” also helps you start out in the right direction.
(Be careful not to confuse the Schoodic Bog Trail with the Schoodic Connector Trail, which is new of summer 2006 and also begins at the kiosk. The Schoodic Connector Trail is a narrow footpath that leads through the forest southwest 2.6 miles to FBC’s Long Ledges Preserve.)
After walking 0.5 mile on Schoodic Bog Road, veer right, following the blue diamond FBC signs onto a rougher road that is rocky and narrows quite a bit in some places. A wooden arrow sign reading “To Schoodic Bog” directs you at this juncture.
Hike 0.5 mile on this rocky, wide trail and you’ll come to a spot where beavers have flooded the trail. Here FBC has created a detour trail that enters the woods to your left, dips into a small ravine, crosses a brook on a wooden bridge, then climbs back up to the original trail.
Soon after this, the Schoodic Bog Trail ends at the Downeast Sunrise Trail, a multi-use that runs 85 miles from Ellsworth to Ayers Junction in eastern Maine. This trail is open to ATVs, horses, bicyclists, hikers, skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.
Turn right and follow the Downeast Sunrise Trail about 0.2 to reach Schoodic Bog. (If you cut straight across the Downeast Sunrise Trail, you will find the Schoodic Mountain Trail, which travels through private land up the west side of the mountain. If you decide to hike this trail, be sure to stay on trail and respect that this is private property.
The Downeast Sunrise Trail cuts across Schoodic Bog’s its northern end on an old railroad bed. At the edge of the bog, you’ll find a picnic table set in the bushes to the right side of the trail. Then, continuing across the bog, you’ll walk past several old telephone poles that appear to be sinking slowly into the bog. And ahead of you is Schoodic Mountain, which rises 1,069 above sea level and is a popular mountain to hike in the area.
If you walk through Schoodic Bog on the Downeast Sunrise Trail, then turn around and retrace your steps to the preserve parking lot, your hike will be about 3 miles total.
Dogs are permitted if kept under control at all times. Beware that ATVs, horses and snowmobiles use the Downeast Sunrise Trail, and it’s trail etiquette to keep your dog out of the way of all other visitors.
For more information, visit frenchmanbay.org or call 422-2328.
Personal note: We woke up early on Saturday, picked up some iced coffee in Ellsworth, and drove east to Sullivan, a small town incorporated in 1789, rumored to be home to America’s oldest documented ghost story. The town also happens to be home to some spectacular hikes.
On that sunny, late summer day, my husband Derek and I were headed to Schoodic Bog Preserve, an outdoor destination that had been recommended to me by several people over the years.
The day warmed quickly as we walked along Schoodic Bog Road, following the blue FBC signs I’ve come to know so well by visiting many of the land trust’s preserves over the years. Along the way, I almost stepped on a snake, which quickly slithered into the underbrush before I could photograph it or even positively identify it. Dark in color with stripes, the snake could have been a ribbon snake or a very distinctively marked garter snake, which is more common.
Also on the rough gravel road, we came across bear feces, which looked like a pile of mashed up blueberries. In fact, many of the blueberries were still whole. I did some research later on, and I learned that this isn’t unusual. Bears tend to swallow blueberries whole, and if the berries aren’t soft and ripe enough, they won’t be broken up in the bear’s stomach, according to the North American Bear Center. (“Bear poop” is not the oddest thing I’ve researched on Google at work, trust me.
As we walked through Schoodic Bog on the Downeast Sunrise Trail, I photographed white water lilies in full bloom, a cedar waxwing perched atop a tall pine and a baby eastern painted turtle basking in the sun, so small that it could rest above water on a lilypad. A fresh breeze combed through the tall grasses of the bog, and every once in awhile, a couple ATVers or bicyclists passed by on the trail.
We were nearly at the other side of the bog when we turned back and traced our steps back to the parking lot. Along the way, we spotted a smooth green snake, also known as a grass snake, and a young hermit thrush, which will soon fly south to spend the winter in a warmer place.