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Let’s Say Hello, and Go for a Hike on the Cliff Trail

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust
December 1, 2014

By Jamie Pacheco

Hello. My name is Jamie and my family and I are happy to be recent transplants to Harpswell. The more we see of Harpswell, the more we think we may never leave. I’ll be writing stories about my exploration of the trails and shore of Harpswell and posting them on Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s new Outdoor Adventure Blog.

2014-Cliff-Trail-Cascade-JPTo undertake this exploratory endeavor, I have enlisted the help of my trusty sidekick, Essex the dog. However, Essex has just joined our family, so her trustworthiness is unknown. Things could get interesting.

For our very first adventure Essex, my partner Nate and I started out on the Cliff Trail. The Cliff Trail begins behind the Harpswell Town Office by following Strawberry Creek. The sea grass in this little section of creek reminds me of summer. I grew up in Maine, and have my own images of its coast, but there is something about that stock coastal image of waving sea grass that makes me think of summer. And so I do, even though it is December. We say goodbye to the creek with a waterfall.

Directly after the waterfall the trail splits. If you take a right, you can bypass part of the trail and discover the Fairy House Zone. (For those of you who are wondering, Fairy Houses are little homes for fairies, typically tucked into natural spaces and made out of natural materials.) We walked straight at the intersection and onward to Henry’s Creek. We wound our way toward the creek and ventured down a spur trail that took us right up to a grassy view of Henry’s Creek. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I am walking with my dog. There is a sign banning dogs and people from entering the creek. The problem is that six-month-old dogs don’t read. I did manage to stop Essex before she had got more than a few feet into the creek, but not before she covered her legs in mud. My poor car! Once past that muddy little disaster we started up the incline to the cliffs. You very quickly start getting views of Long Reach, but then the trail takes you down off the cliffs, where the by-pass re-joins the main trail, before heading back up onto the cliffs.

2014-Cliff-Trail-View-JPAs we walked along we were amazed by the views. Long Reach was a stunning, vivid blue, reminiscent of a tropical paradise. All I could think was that people spend tons of money to visit water like this. They should just come to Maine! As we were admiring the view, we were also getting very antsy that our lovely little puppy might get a little too interested in the cliff edge. I urge you to keep small children and rambunctious dogs under strict control and, in fact, there is a sign on the trail suggesting just this. TAKE HEED!!!!

The remainder of the trail was full of small hills and large roots, but it was a pretty quick return to the parking lot, including a scenic view of the town dump.

And, of course, we learned a few things:

–Muck boots are strictly necessary on a 58-degree December day
–Dogs will attempt to cover themselves completely in mud, especially if it is in a restricted area and you didn’t bring a towel for the car
–For puppies who may attempt a flying lesson over the cliff face, an emergency rescue plan may be necessary

Overall, we loved the Cliff Trail! It is a 2.3 mile loop, it took us one hour and we saw glorious views. It is best suited for those without hip, joint or balance issues as it has small hills, roots and the cliff face. Someone with any of these problems would likely be fine walking the Strawberry Creek portion of the trail. We saw only one other person and one dog, but it was December after all. There is plenty of parking behind the Harpswell Town Office, a bike rack, bathrooms, picnic tables and doggy poo bags with a trash can. This is a great place to visit in Harpswell!