Difficulty: Easy. The 1.1-mile loop trail is wide and travels up and down a hill for a total change in elevation of just over 100 feet. The surface of the trail is fairly smooth forest floor, much of it covered in grass.
How to get there: From I-95 Exit 174 for Newburgh, drive South on Route 69 (Carmel Road N) about 1.7 miles, then turn right onto Route 9-Route 202 (Western Avenue). Drive 3 miles, then turn left onto Kennard Road, which is gravel and located across the road from the Newburgh Fire Station. Drive a little less than 1 mile and a small parking area for the trail will be on your right, just before a wooden sign posted on a tree trunk that reads “Kennard Rd.Trail by Landmark Heritage Trust.”
Information: Located on forestland owned by the town of Newburgh, the Kennard Road Trail is a 1.1-mile loop trail that is maintained by the Landmark Heritage Trust, a local land trust that maintains a handful of properties in Hampden, Winterport, Monroe and Newburgh. Measuring about 15 feet wide, the trail follows the path of an old skidder road that was used years ago when the property was selectively harvested.
At the parking area, a simple wooden sign posted to a tree has the general shape of the loop trail carved into it and painted with yellow paint. From that sign, you can hike the loop in either direction.
If you hike the trail clockwise, if you’re facing the sign, you’ll take the trail to the left and head southwest. Right away, the trail travels gradually uphill through a mixed forest that includes plenty of beech trees, as well as spruce, balsam fir and white pine trees.
Partway up the hill, the trail splits. To remain on the loop trail, veer right. The left trail is a spur trail that leads down to a pine grove and ends at Kennard Road south of the parking area. Landmark Heritage Trust President Allan Tubbs estimates that this trail is about 0.3 mile long. It remains on town-owned property, so the public is welcome to use it, however, it isn’t maintained as regularly as the main loop trail.
Continuing on the loop trail, it travels to the top of the hill, which is just over 700 feet above sea level, then heads downhill for a short stretch before turning north. In that particular area, surveys have found two vernal pools, which are seasonal pools that provide habitat for certain animals. In Maine, these pools form in the spring and usually dry up in the summer or fall, and they’re often home to spotted salamanders, wood frogs and fairy shrimp.
Past these vernal pools, as the trail heads north, a short side trail spurs off to the left and ends at an agricultural field. You can walk to the edge of this field, which is privately owned and edged with the remains of an old rock wall.
From this side trail, the main loop trail continues north and east to loop around to the parking area. On the way, the trail travels downhill through a clump of gray birch trees. The property is also home to an abundance of maple, ash, and yellow birch trees. Just before reaching the parking area, a side trail spurs off to the left and leads to a private residence. At this trail intersection is a sign with an arrow directing you to stay right and remain on the loop.
During the spring, summer and fall, much of the trail is surfaced with grass, which grows slowly under the shade of trees and is usually mowed at least once a year by Landmark Heritage Trust. Throughout the forest is a variety of common wildflowers, including the occasional lady’s-slipper orchid, according to Tubbs. And near the parking area is an open area where a variety of wildflowers grow, as well as a cluster of sumac shrubs.
The property is open to the public year round, however, in the winter, the parking area is not regularly plowed and the road is narrow, making it sometimes difficult to park out of the way of traffic. This is a residential road so shouldn’t be blocked.
The loop trail — which has a fairly dry, hard surface most of the year — is open to a variety of uses, including hiking, snowmobiling, horseback riding, biking and ATVing. Hunting is permitted, and dogs are permitted if under their owners’ control at all times. For more information, visit http://landmarkheritagetrust.org or call Tubbs at 207-825-3569.
Personal note: On Maine Maple Sunday, after visiting the local Nutkin Knoll Farm and Sugarworks in Newburgh, I decided to enjoy the sunny weather a bit longer by visiting the nearby Kennard Road Trail, which I had learned about by visiting the Landmark Heritage Trust website a few years before. I’ve also visited the land trust’s trails at North Pond Natural Area in Monroe.
The warm weather tricked me into thinking that spring was in full swing on March 24, but I only walked a few steps from my car before I sank up to my knees in snow. Luckily, I carry much of my outdoor gear around with me, so all I had to do was wade back to my car for some snowshoes.
Once I was walking on top of the snow (somewhat), chickadees welcomed me into the forest with a cheerful song, and I could hear a woodpecker drumming on a tree nearby. I trudged uphill and soon came to an unexpected intersection, one that wasn’t on the map provided online or posted at the trailhead. Knowing the trail was a loop that would curve to my right, I decided to choose the right trail at the intersection in hopes of remaining on the main trail, and that ended up being the right decision.
About halfway through the hike, I sat down on a mushroom-covered stump and ate a ham and cheese sandwich that I’d picked up at the nearby Dysart’s Travel Stop. While eating, I hoped for a bird or some other wildlife to visit me, but I wasn’t so lucky. The only animals I saw that day were a few flies milling about in the sun.
According to Tubbs, deer are often seen on the property, year round. I’d like to return in the spring to see if I can find the property’s vernal pools, which I’m sure attract a number of interesting creatures.