Taking a Midcoast Hike

Higgins Mountain Preserve, Georgetown

Posted:  Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 11:00am

There are a number of high hills along Maine’s Midcoast referred to as mountains. They include Mount Hunger in Edgecomb, Morse Mountain in Phippsburg and Higgins Mountain in Georgetown­ — all of which are on land preserves.

Higgins Mountain, just a few miles south of the Georgetown bridge, is among the properties managed by the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT). It rises to the lofty height of 259 feet, and is said to be the highest point on Georgetown Island. As far as mountains go, that’s not very high, but it’s still fun to hike to the top. You’ll appreciate the view more this time of year before the leaves return to the trees.

A kiosk marks the preserve’s entrance where a short but challenging hike awaits. There were plenty of trail maps during my recent visit that include a brief history of the preserve. From it we learn Mathew McKinney, a Scottish immigrant and cobbler by trade, first settled near here around 1730 and took up farming. The hill got its name from a descendant, Jane McKinney Higgins, who was given the land in 1849.

There’s only one trail which snakes around the property. The shortest way to the top is to follow the route on the left. Be wary, both paths run uphill over mostly rocky terrain. I opted for the trail on the right, the longer route to the summit. Part of it is blazed white, but I soon lost sight of the markings and wandered off, doubled back, wandered off again and finally gave up. Following my own route, I was soon at the summit admiring the view.

A plaque pinioned to the rock ledge reads: “Lower Kennebec Region Land Trust - Donated in memory of Warren S. Todd by ‘Billie’ Todd & family November 2000.” A compass bearing from here indicated Route 127 (Five Islands Road) was 120 degrees eastward.

Stunted, wind-blown pitch pine, juniper bushes and wild blueberries surround the summit, which looks very similar to Bald Head in nearby Arrowsic. Looking east, you can see the ocean and, on a clear day, Hendricks Head lighthouse in Southport.

Piles of rocks have been set along the rocky portions of the trail for hikers to follow. It’s about a 10-minute climb to the top and some folks may find it challenging. Take care coming down — I discovered a few stretches of the rock-strewn path slippery following the recent wet weather.

Higgins Mountain is about 17 miles from Wiscasset. From Route 1 south, take the exit at the Woolwich Dairy Queen for Arrowsic and follow the road (Route 127) east to Georgetown. Just past the Smokey the Bear sign on the right, you’ll pass a quirky landmark aptly named “Turtle Rock.” The entrance to the preserve will be on your right and includes a small parking area.

Dogs are not permitted. For more information on the preserve and other properties managed by KELT, visit: www.kennebecestuary.org

On the return trip you might consider stopping to explore Schoener Preserve. The 154-acre wooded parcel is owned by the University of Maine with an easement to KELT. It’s about a mile west of Higgins Mountain and just past a cemetery on the right. There’s room on the shoulder to pull off Route 127 and park. A small white sign marks the trail entrance, which is alongside an old logging road.

The trail is wide, blazed in yellow and easily followed. It carries you through a forest of mostly new growth running gradually downhill most of the way alongside a stone boundary line. Along the way, you’ll pass a small bog on the right. It’s loaded with frogs, a sign spring has finally returned.

The 10-minute walk brings you out to a secluded inlet along the shore of Robinhood Cove, where you’ll see a small rushing brook. I caught sight of two mallards, both drakes that heard my approach and took off across the water.

KELT lists the trail as .75 miles. It ends at the cove; you return the way you came in. Leased dogs are permitted here. The land was a gift of Jason and Virginia Schoener in 1996. You can send your comments on this and other Discover the Midcoast stories to pdivece@roadrunner.com.