Hills to Sea Trail / by Greg Westrich

The Hills to Sea Trail wanders about 46 miles from Unity to Belfast. The Waldo County Trails Coalition—a group of nine local organizations—built and maintains the trail. At present, some of the route is roadwalking to connect woodland sections. It is designed to be a year round day hiking attraction bringing together the communities it passes through and those who come to hike.


Two sections of the trail—Hogback and Frye Mountains—are in one of my guides (Best Easy Day Hikes Camden).


The last weekend in October I dragged my son Henry on a hike to explore the section south of Freedom village. It was the first day of deer season, so we had on our orange. The trail enters the woods in someone's backyard across ME137 from the general store. Like many store's in rural Maine, it's also the local tagging station. As I organized my pack, someone drove in with a big buck to tag. A half dozen folks came out to watch it get weighed and tagged.


The trail climbed gently away from the village. For several minutes we could hear the swish of cars on the wet road. The woods were quiet. The wet leaves muffled our steps. Soon we were lost in the rythmn of walking. Here and there crumbling chunks of bedrock thrust from the ground. We crossed a spine of rock that was almost entirely white quartz. Hemlocks drooped in the fall chill.


The trail crossed a lichen-covered stone wall onto a pasture. Across the wide meadow, a white, clapboard church sat against the backdrop of an orange and green hill. We crossed another stone wall and re-entered the woods.


We turned back where the trail crossed Freedom Pond Road—the next section up and over Goose Ridge—was closed for hunting season. There hadn't been any mountain vistas, but it was a nice walk through a varied forest. On the way back I flushed a woodcock that fluttered noisily away. Later, we passed through a flock of nuthatches honking merrily to each other as they flitted from branch to branch.


For more information on the Hills to Sea Trail, check out their website at http://www.waldotrails.org/.