Most people will agree that family summer vacation week is one of the better weeks of the year! This year, we decided to take a trip up the Maine coast, spending two nights in the Camden/Rockport area followed by three nights in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area. With this line up, it's obvious we were going to have to get some kid friendly hikes in. Our first hike was the Beech Hill Preserve in Rockport Maine.
The Beech Hill Preserve is made up of a bald hill enclosed in 300 acres of conservation land. This land is used for the preservation of bird and wildlife habitat as well as a huge organic blueberry operation! The hill overlooks the Penobscot Bay, the Camden hills and the St. George Peninsula. At the summit stands the Beech Nut Hut, which is a sod-roofed stone house which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This structure has a ton of history in and of itself. Finally, this land is managed by the Coastal Mountains Land Trust in Maine.
Trail map on left is from the Coastal Mountains Land Trust PDF pamphlet
There are two trails that approach the summit of Beech Hill; one from the north off from which is the Summit Road Trail (off from Beech Hill Road) and one from the south on which is the Woods Loop Trail (off from Rockville Road). The Summit Road Trail is known to be a gentler hike and resembles an old tote road most of the way, whereas from what I've read, the Woods Loop Trail is a more traditional woods trail. We chose to take the Summit Road Trail since we had a two year old with us that we were hoping would hike with his own energy!
The trail left the parking area and ran parallel to Beech Hill Road, quickly moving through some forest and entering the northwest corner of the field area. From this point, the field is blocked off with string so that no one goes in to pick the organic blueberries which I read were used to help fund maintenance for the preserve. Soon, the trail turns south and heads up Beech Hill. The trail is pretty wide and the terrain is very easy.
It isn't long before you end up high enough to see the Camden Hills to the north and Penobscot Bay to the south. Seeing the large bushels of blueberries was also a treat. I've never seen so many blueberries bunched up on plants before. I wonder how they keep the birds away.
The trail soon makes a u-turn back to the north where it leads up to the Beech Nut Hut on the summit. The Beech Nut Hut is quite impressive. It was built as summer location and picnic spot in the early 1900s. Recently, it has been renovated and tours are offered during a select schedule. they are run by Coastal Mountain Land Trust.
The hut offered a cool, wrap around porch and some signage to read up on the history and rehabilitation efforts. Looking in the windows (it was not open), we saw that it was setup like an exhibit, as it may have looked many years ago when it was first erected. There was also a rock marked 1914 (the year it was built) on the northeastern corner of hut (lowest stone) that we were able to search for with the kids...that was fun.
Owl's Head Light (lighthouse) on the shore just to the right of the sailboat
We met a really nice family at the top that visited the spot every year. They helped us identify different landmarks in the distance, one being the Owl's Head Light (lighthouse) which decided to visit later that day (blog post to come soon!). After hanging out for a bit and snapping some photos, we headed back down the way we came.
Overall, for very little effort, this summit rewards you with excellent 360 degree views. It's a great hike for little kids as well. I would highly recommend it for someone vacationing or visiting the Camden or Rockport area in Maine.
Sources used and helpful links:
Map / Brochure
Coastal Mountains Land Trust