Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The out-and-back trail is approximately 2.5 miles long and travels over many small hills. Expect a narrow but well-maintained hiking trail that travels over fairly smooth forest floor with some exposed tree roots and rocky sections.
How to get there: Parking for the trail is at the public boat launch on the west side of the dam at the head of Grand Lake Stream. To get there, drive to the town of Princeton, which is located on Route 1, just north of where it intersects with Route 9 near the Canada-Maine border in eastern Maine. From Route 1 in Princeton, drive north into Indian Township Reservation, then turn left onto Grand Lake Stream Road and follow it for just over 10 miles. Turn right onto Little River Road and drive 0.1 mile, crossing the bridge over Grand Lake Stream, then turn right onto Shaw Street. Drive 0.1 mile to the boat launch parking lot, which will be on your right. Park there and continue north on Shaw Street on foot, passing the dam and boat launch and entering a neighborhood of camps along the shore of West Grand Lake. Along the way, you’ll see signs directing you toward the Little Mayberry Cove Trail. Walk along this gravel camp road for about 0.25 mile to reach the trailhead, which is marked with plenty of signs.
Information: Running through a mossy, hilly forest beside West Grand Lake, the 2.5-mile Little Mayberry Cove Trail is located within the 27,000-acre Farm Cove Community Forest, which is owned and maintained by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust. This quiet walk in the woods is punctuated by four outlooks along the shore of the scenic lake.
Founded in 2001, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust is a nonprofit organization that has purchased and conserved large tracts of forestland and shoreline in the Downeast Lakes Region over the past 15 years. The land trust’s most recent accomplishment was its purchase of the 21,870-acre West Grand Lake Community Forest in 2016, which is adjacent to the Farm Cove Community Forest. Together the two tracts total nearly 56,000 acres and are now known as the Downeast Lakes Community Forest.
In addition to maintaining a number of hiking trails, DLLT manages nine water-access campsites on the Down East Water Trail, which provides a variety of options for multi-day paddling trips in the region. DLLT also works with the local clubs to maintain trails for ATVing and snowmobiling.
Designed for foot traffic only, the Little Mayberry Cove Trail is a narrow hiking trail. Here’s the map and brochure for the trail provided by the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.
The trail was originally marked with yellow painted blazes on trees along the trail, but those blazes have been replaced by small, metal signs nailed to the trees. These signs are blue with silver arrow symbols that are pointed in the direction of the trail, and in my opinion, they’re more aesthetically pleasing than bright blazes. They’re easy to spot, but at the same time don’t distract much from the natural beauty of the forest.
Early in the trail you will come to a small wooden kiosk where hikers can sign a registration book and leave comments about their experiences on the trail. This is also a good place to offer any update on conditions on the trail, such as downed trees that need to be removed. The trail rules are also posted at the kiosk. Hikers are expected to follow Leave No Trace practices by picking up after themselves and respecting other trail users and local wildlife. Dogs are permitted if kept under control, and visitors should wear blaze orange during hunting seasons.
Interesting natural features of this trail include hills of mosses and lichens, a wide variety of mushrooms, and stands of tall hemlocks and pines. In some sections of the trail, the covering of soft, green moss over the forest floor is completely unbroken except for where boots have worn the moss down to dirt on the narrow trail. Be sure to stay on trail so not to ruin this delicate natural carpet.
The first outlook on the trail is called Harriman Outlook, a tiny rocky beach that is reached by a short side trail. This is the only outlook on the trail that is named or marked with a sign. The other three outlooks are less obvious because they are simply areas where the main trail kisses the shore.
The last outlook on the Little Mayberry Cove Trail is at a small, peaceful cove, where you can sit on small boulders surrounded by clear, shallow water and enjoy the view. The trail passes very close to this cove, but actually accessing the shore and walking out onto the rocks may require bushwhacking through a thin layer of shoreline vegetation.
After the cove, the trail turns away from the lake to meet a logging road. You can create a loop hike by following the logging road back to the boat launch, or you can opt to retrace your steps on the traditional hiking trail for an out-and-back hike that is just about 5 miles long.
For more information, visit downeastlakes.org, call the land trust at 207-796-2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal note: I’d never been to Grand Lake Stream before driving there on Friday, July 28, with my dog, Oreo. But I’d read about the rather secluded town, and I knew it had a rich history as a place for fishing, canoeing and hunting. And when it came to hiking — my favorite pastime — the region had a few beautiful footpaths, thanks to the local Downeast Lakes Land Trust.
The Little Mayberry Cove Trail, so easily accessible from the village of Grand Lake Stream, seemed a good place for any first-time visitor to start their explorations. As I walked to the trail from the boat launch parking area, I passed by several families swimming in the lake and people walking along the road, but by the time Oreo and I reached the hiking trail, we were alone. I scanned the registration book and saw that the trail is typically used by a handful of people each day of the summer, but it’s not a terribly busy place.
Following the shiny metal trail markers, we entered a forest that seemed to become more mossy and beautiful the farther we hiked. At Harriman Outlooks, I perched on a rock on the shore while Oreo waded into the water and thrashed about, barking and biting at the ripples and reflections as he inexplicably does every time he’s in water. He even waded in deep enough to do a little paddling with his front paws. I’m pretty proud of how far he’s come, considering he used to fear the kiddy pool I purchased for him years ago.
At the cove at the end of the trail, we did the exact same thing. I sat on a rock, enjoying the sun and peaceful view of the lake … while Oreo splashed me. We then turned back, opting to retrace our steps on the woodland trail rather than walk back on the logging road. When I return to the region, I plan to hike the land trust’s Pocumcus Lake Trail, as well as the nearby Wabassus Mountain Trail.