Losing Yourself at Long Reach Preserve
By Ed Robinson
Right up front I’ll state that I am not advocating getting lost in this lovely forest, but it is a great place to get away with your thoughts, or a good friend. With 93 acres and substantial depth between Route 24 and the waters of Long Reach, here you will find solitude and beauty in many forms. Stick with the new yellow trail markers and you will have trouble getting “turned around.”
On a gorgeous autumn day, I grabbed my camera and chose the full loop trail because I needed some exercise and wanted to take photos looking across to the town’s Cliff Trail. After leaving the parking area to the right of Trufant-Summerton Ball Field, I entered the cool forest and approached the southern end of Long Marsh. There are thick alders around the edge, great habitat for woodcock and other shy creatures. Here the marsh is fresh water, but as you go north to Doughty Cove, the marsh transitions to salt water. I could hear birds calling in the trees on all sides and enjoyed the fresh scents wafting on a gentle breeze.
Crossing a small stream I started up the first of two ridges, about 90 feet in elevation. The trees in this forest are diverse, including beech, hemlocks, red spruce, red maples, birch and white pines. Numerous rock outcroppings running north and south illustrate the folded bedrock geology common to Harpswell.
Crossing over the ridge to the west, I walked down along the freshwater bog that is a highlight of this property. There I flushed two mallards which may have been attracted by a good crop of red oak acorns. Midday sun highlighted the lush sphagnum moss in bright green and red, along with cranberry and cotton grass.
Dropping further down the trail, I came to Long Reach itself, a flooded valley that shelters productive mud flats. Total shoreline on the property is 2400 feet, with some steeper sections so please you’re your steps. The habitat here supports not only mollusks, but also shorebirds and waterfowl. To prove the point, several black ducks flushed as I walked to the shore’s edge. I heard but could not see an osprey somewhere overhead. There is a wildlife trail along the shoreline, with deer tracks in the soft soil.
On your return, the loop trail winds its way back through the southern end of the peat bog, and over the rocky ridge. The southern part of the trail takes you along an old stone wall, and finally back to the parking lot. My walk, taking lots of photos, required one and a quarter hours. If pressed for time, you can take the shorter bog trail and skip the walk down to Long Reach. However, this beautiful property could easily absorb two to three hours of your day, and you would return home refreshed.