The New Trail in Town at the Devil’s Back
By Ed Robinson
Attention All Hikers! It’s time to lace up your boots and get over to the Devil’s Back Trail parking lot on the north end of Orr’s Island. You’ll find a lovely new trail just waiting for you to explore and to enjoy some classic Harpswell scenery.
A team of 12 volunteers spent more than 150 hours in recent months digging and hacking out a new trail for our hiking pleasure. Called the Gun Point Cove Loop, it is a sister to the Devil’s Back Trail that debuted a few years ago. The new trail is located on the east side of the Harpswell Islands Road (Route 24), and begins at the south end of the Devil’s Back parking lot.
Project manager and trail building superstar Don Miskill lauded the hard work of his crew, noting this is the 4th new trail in Harpswell in the last five years, including those at Widgeon Cove and Curtis Farm Preserve. Don said there is some cleanup work to be done, including installation of steps in steeper sections of the trail, and putting up the trail signs now in production (all blazes are in place, along with orange flagging tape). Don was quick to point out that he has enjoyed the collaboration between the volunteers for Harpswell’s Town trails and those associated with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. Fresh off this latest project, Don is hoping to work on new trails at the new Otter Brook Preserve, once HHLT finishes its fundraising and acquires these properties.
On a lovely June morning I took the opportunity to hike the roughly one-mile loop trail, heading first to the south. The trail drops off from the parking lot quickly into quiet mixed hardwoods and softwoods. Soon you leave the road noise behind you and catch glimpses of the ocean below. There are several spots where you can enjoy viewpoints, stepping carefully down onto the rocks to sit and enjoy the sunshine.
About halfway along the trail at water’s edge there is a big viewing area that allows you to look out across the cove to a favorite resting spot for our local harbor seals. It was nearly high tide for my walk so only one seal was in view, but at times you might see a dozen or more. If you are pressed for time, there is a cut off trail that runs from the trailhead down to this viewing area, with the appropriate name of Seal Rock Trail.
But why hurry? The entire outer loop took me around 35 minutes, allowing for taking a few photos. I saw cormorants, an osprey gliding above the cove, and I enjoyed the calls of chipmunks and a variety of birds in the woods. Coming upon the Petersen family of Yarmouth, Mrs. Peterson said they have been coming to the area for years and she enjoys birding here.
This trail would probably be considered of intermediate difficulty. Unlike easy walking trails like the Giant’s Stairs or Wilson Cove, Gun Point Cove Loop has a lot of ups and downs. There are also some narrow spots where you will want to get a hand on a tree to keep your balance. A walking stick or hiking pole would be a good choice for those of us who remember Chubby Checker! Many thanks to Don and the trail crew for opening another pretty part of Harpswell for all of us to enjoy.