The Great Works Regional Land Trust conserves land across six towns in southern Maine, an area where undeveloped spaces are few and far between. Looking at a topographical map of the region, you may think these low-lying areas don’t have much to offer hikers.

Don’t be fooled.

The hills, valleys, rivers, ponds and woods in and around the Berwicks are home to a bounty of opportunities for hiking, rambling and strolling.

Since 1986, Great Works has protected more than 6,200 acres with more than 120 projects, and lists 19 properties as “public places” welcoming visitors. The land trust is also one of the 10 organizations working together on the Mount Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative, with the goal of conserving nearly 20,000 acres of natural land in the Mt. Agamenticus region.

Mount Agamenticus, the 692-foot peak at the center of the region, offers a wealth of recreation options, including bike trails, hiking trails, a road-accessible summit and ocean views. But it’s not actually the highest peak in the area. That distinction belongs to another mountain a dozen miles to the north: Bauneg Beg.

With three peaks and a summit that sits at 866 feet, Bauneg Beg Mountain is Agamenticus’ lesser-known, cool big brother, shrouded by forests and farmland, and accessible only by trail. Like Agamenticus, Bauneg Beg was once home to a ski area, and it also has views of the sea on a clear day – its prominent silhouette has long been used by mariners to navigate the coast. It’s also the only mountain in southern Maine without a radio tower.

Great Works’ 89-acre Bauneg Beg Conservation Area protects the mountain’s Middle Peak, and provides access to the North Peak on land owned by North Berwick. The two-mile trail network boasts a surprising amount of variety, with opportunities to ramble along wide paths, scramble between giant rocks and soak in panoramic views. It’s also a great place to introduce kids to hiking; the lookout on Middle Peak can be reached in less than a half-hour.

From the large gravel parking lot on Fox Farm Hill Road, the pleasant Bauneg Beg trail traverses bog bridges and deciduous forest as it makes its way up to the col between the mountain’s North and Middle Peaks. At a T-intersection the trail splits and offers two paths to the summit: “Ginny’s Way” to the left and “Linny’s Way” to the right. Ginny’s Way is the easier of the two, making a wide, easy arc to the top, but Linny’s Way is more interesting; it passes through a section of large boulders called “Devil’s Den” and climbs steeper rocky cliffs before putting you at the high point.

The trail at Orris Falls Conservation Area leads to beaver wetlands, where multiple dams have created a couple of ponds.

Views from the top are pretty open, and on a clear day stretch on and on. Nearby you can see Bauneg Beg’s North Peak and Mount Hope; farther on, Pleasant Mountain and the White Mountains to the northwest; and the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, weather permitting. The large, flat rocks on the summit are a perfect spot to enjoy a snack as you take in the scenery.

The North Peak Loop Trail is worth the extra footsteps as you make your way back to the parking lot. While there aren’t any views as expansive as those from Middle Peak, there are some nice ledges with pretty glimpses into the trees, and stone walls and cairns add interesting flourishes to the path.

Bauneg Beg is a great destination for an hour or two of hiking. If you’re eager to get a few more miles under your belt, I recommend taking a 20-minute drive toward the coast to the Orris Falls Conservation Area.

The Orris Falls Conservation Area encompasses 171 acres near the northern end of the MtA2C Focus Area, in the Tatnic Hills between Bauneg Beg and Agamenticus. A single 1.8-mile trail runs through the entire preserve, with room to park at either end. Like the protected lands around Bauneg Beg, this preserve contains a surprising multitude of features worthy of attention.

If you enter from the south, the first thing you’ll want to check out is the spur trail to Balancing Rock, less than a half-mile of easy walking from the trailhead. This massive boulder, perfectly balanced on a smaller rock, is sure to delight children and perplex adults. According to the land trust, the mysterious stone points due south and confounds compasses that get close.

Continuing north, the trail rambles over Spring Hill, where a lookout through a gap in the trees offers wonderful views of Mt. Agamenticus. The trail descends on easy grades into beaver wetlands, where the industrious creatures have built multiple dams to create a couple of wide, still ponds. Near the center of the preserve, another spur follows a small brook to lovely Orris Falls, where the water tumbles into a 90-foot gorge.

Nearby, a trail passes through the Littlefield Homestead where only the stone foundations of the buildings remain. In 1889, writer Sarah Orne Jewett visited Daniel Littlefield here and recounted the journey in her beautiful essay, “The White Rose Road.” I believe she was describing Orris Falls (named for Daniel’s son) when she wrote, “At one place there is a most exquisite waterfall, to which neither painter’s brush nor writer’s pen can do justice.”

My only regret about my recent visit to the Berwicks is I didn’t get to explore more of Great Works’ preserves. I would love to visit Beach Plum Farm, the coastal preserve on the Ogunquit River; Grover-Herrick Preserve, which boasts a unique glacial kettle hole; the Raymond & Simone Savage Wildlife Preserve, where entomologist Paul Miliotis has recorded sightings of more than 120 varieties of birds; and many more. All the more reason to return to the area in the future – and to support the goal of keeping it preserved.

Jake Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Josh, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Jake can be reached at:

[email protected]