Difficulty: Easy. The preserve is home to about 1.5 miles of trails that travel through forests and old fields. A little less than a mile of those trails is actually an old woods road, which is smooth and wide. There is no significant change in elevation throughout the preserve. If you explore all of the trails in the preserve, the total hike is 3 miles, out and back.
How to get there: From the intersection of Route 172 and Route 175 in south Blue Hill, follow Route 175 south 7.5 miles, then turn left onto Harriman Point Road. Drive 0.5 mile and the parking lot will be on your right. The trail leading into the preserve is directly across the road from the parking lot.
Information: With roughly two miles of shoreline, Harriman Point Preserve features the longest continuous stretch of the coast open to the public on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Gifted to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust in 2014, the 138-acre preserve features about 1.5 miles of easy walking trails that travel through mossy forests and across old fields to the rocky shore.
Settled by the Harriman family in 1795, Harriman Point is mostly forested today, but foundations, stone walls and old fields remain as evidence of the property’s history. The land is also home to forested wetlands, salt marshes and a 1.3-acre bog. This variety of habitats makes it an excellent place for birdwatching, according to the MCHT, especially during spring and fall migration.
The property was gifted to MCHT by Susan Lyman Drew, who left it in bequest when she died in 2014. Drew lived in South Carolina but was a summer resident of Brooklin. In her obituary in the Boston Globe, Brooklin was described as “a favorite summer place for generations of Sue’s family.” A plaque in Drew’s memory can be found embedded in a bolder at the edge of the preserve’s Eastern Beach, where you can look out across Blue Hill Bay to the mountains of Mount Desert Island.
The town of Brooklin granted MCHT an easement to construct a small gravel parking area on Harriman Point Road for preserve visitors. From there, a trail leading to the preserve starts directly across the road and weaves through a scenic, mossy forest over narrow bog bridges. This short trail (about 0.2 mile long) is on private property. The landowners granted MCHT the right to construct the public trail on the property in 2016. For this reason, it’s especially important that visitors stay on trail, respect the privacy of the landowners and keep the trail clean.
After about 0.2 mile, the trail ends at the gravel Tinker Lane. There, a sign directs hikers to turn left and cross the road to find the trail leading into the preserve. This trail follows an old woods road which is being reclaimed by nature. A chain bars this road from vehicle traffic, and a display including preserve guidelines and a trail map is posted on a tree nearby.
A short way down the old road, you’ll come upon a wooden kiosk that includes a wooden cubby holding a registration book and MCHT brochures. Also on the kiosk are displays reminding visitors to wear blaze orange during hunting season and check themselves for ticks after visiting.
Past the kiosk, the old woods road continues north through the forest to an open field and former home site of the Harriman family. This is about 1 mile from the parking lot. Here, the trail splits into two trails, each about 0.25 mile long. The left trail leads to the point at Allen Cove, and the right trail leads to Eastern Beach. At both locations, you’ll find quintessential Maine beaches of jagged rock, seaweed-covered boulders and coarse sand mixed with clam shells, periwinkles, sea glass and wave-tumbled rocks of all colors.
From the point on Allen Cove, you can look west across the cove to the former residence of E.B.White. And at Eastern Beach, a long gravel and sand beach, you can enjoy views of Mount Desert Island to the east.
Camping and fires are not permitted on the preserve. Pets must be kept under strict voice or leash control. And visitors are expected to carry out all trash, including human and pet waste.
The Maine Coast Heritage Trust is a nonprofit organization that manages more than 100 preserves along the Maine coast. Working closely with private landowners, partner organizations and government agencies, MCHT has conserved more than 143,000 acres in Maine, including hundreds of miles of shoreline and more than 314 entire coastal islands.
For more information, visit www.mcht.org or call the MCHT main office at 729-7366.
Personal note: When we arrived at the parking lot of Harriman Point Preserve on Saturday, Sept. 17, two bicyclists were pulling up to their vehicle after having biked the trails of the preserve. The mosquitoes were bad, they warned us. We had insect repellent, I told them. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine the mosquitoes being too numerous so late in the year. I figured they might be over exaggerating.
They weren’t. The mosquitoes were bad.
Mosquito season in Maine typically stretches from June to October, but mosquitoes can pop up during other times of the year because some female mosquitoes overwinter, according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension pest management office. Maine is home to roughly 40 species of mosquitos, and less than half of those species bite humans. The other species opt to bite other types of animals, such as birds and reptiles.
Unfortunately for us, the hoards of mosquitoes in the woods of Harriman Point preserve on Sept.17 were of the human-biting variety.
But don’t let the bug dissuade you from checking out this beautiful property. Just arm yourself with insect repellent and cover up with clothing (though I did get a bite through my jeans!). Or you could simply visit a bit later in the year, when bug season has truly died down.
One thing I noticed along the trails and old woods road of the preserve is the variety of plants, from trees to wildflowers. Also beside the trails, I located a giant orange tree mushroom that I believe to be chicken of the woods. Growing on a fallen tree, the mushroom formed rippling shelves, some the size of my hand.
The sky became increasingly gloomy as clouds rolled in on Saturday afternoon, and at first I lamented at losing the blue sky. But when we arrived at the point on Allen Cove, I realized that the grey sky lent the oceanscape a different kind of beauty. The colors and textures of the land popped under the moody sky. Mounds of orange seaweed and a boulder streaked through with red and pink; spiney green sea urchins and lime green grasses; dark blue mussel shells and yellow-orange lichen spotting rock outcroppings pale as bone.
On the coast, the breeze swept away most of the mosquitoes, and so we lingered for a while at the edge of Allen Cove and again on Eastern Beach. Our dog Oreo waded into the salty, grey water and rolled on slippery fields on rockweed. And before turning around to backtrack our steps to the parking lot, we sprayed on a generous coat of Buggle — an all-natural insect repellent made in the nearby town of Blue Hill — to defend us from one of Maine’s most notorious pests.