Explore the various ecosystems at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. Photo courtesy of Visit Maine

John Muir’s advice? “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” We’ve found trails suitable for most levels of hikers that shouldn’t leave you so dirty you can’t enjoy another activity afterward. Along with these walks through the woods are some suggestions for things to do nearby to round out your day of fun.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport

With more than 200 acres and six wooded oceanside trails, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is home to myriad ecosystems, including white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rocky shorelines of Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River. Five minutes north is Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, a coastal farm that offers educational programs (including a milking parlor and demonstration gardens) and a café with farm-plucked ingredients. Trails are open 9 a.m. to sunset daily; $4 for Maine residents and $6 non-residents; 426 Wolfe’s Neck Road, Freeport; 207-865-4465, maine.gov.

Cliff Trail, Harpswell

The Cliff Trail is a 2.3-mile Harpswell loop that runs along tidal Strawberry Creek on one side with sweeping views of Long Reach Bay from 150-foot cliffs on the other side. Don’t miss the magical fairy house zones. Several minutes south on Route 24, fairies can refuel at the old-school style Orrs Island Candy Shop, open daily 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Enjoy homemade candies, chocolate or ice cream (moose tracks is a favorite) in the flower garden. Trails are open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; 263 Mountain Road, 207-833-5771, harpswell.maine.gov.

Take trails through a marsh to the beach at Wells Reserve. Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman/EcoPhotography

Wells Reserve, Wells

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Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a National Estuarine Research Reserve that boasts 7 miles of trails through field, forest and salt marsh leading to an unspoiled beach. The reserve offers guided tours, educational nature programs for families (from birdsong walks to barn tours), and special events. Fifteen minutes north via Route 1 in Arundel and open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily is the one-of-a-kind Maine Classic Car Museum, which features 50 of the world’s finest motorcars and themed exhibits, from British Invasion to Happy Camper. Reserve trail fee $6 adults; trails open 7 a.m. to sunset; 342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells; 207-646-1555, wellsreserve.org.

Spend time at Mount Agamenticus exploring trails, taking in the views and visiting the learning lodge. Photo courtesy of Mount Agamenticus Conservation Program

Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region, Cape Neddick

This coastal forest supports some of the state’s highest diversity of animal and plant species. Once a landmark for colonial sailors, the region contains thousands of acres with multiple trails, stunning views and a learning lodge with educational displays, hands-on activities and special events. Refuel a couple minutes south just off Mount Agamenticus Road at Simply Grown Farm Stand with tasty homemade scones and ginger mint lemonade, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Trails open daily, check website for specific hours, parking directions (depending on trailhead) and fees, plus pre-registration for groups of 10 or more; 21 Mount Agamenticus Road, Cape Neddick; 207-361-1102, agamenticus.org.

Sebago Lake from Douglas Mountain. Shawn Patrick Ouelette/Staff Photographer

Douglas Mountain, Sebago

Douglas Mountain in Sebago features 2.8 miles of forested trails, with wooden bridges, brooks and blueberry patches. A 16-foot stone observatory built in the early 1900s is the perch to admire Sebago Lake, the Presidential Range and beyond. Time for lunch? Fifteen minutes southwest is Krista’s Restaurant in Cornish, where the flavors and portions are epic. Trails open sunup to sundown, $3 suggested donation per vehicle; Douglas Mountain Road, Sebago; 207-787-2457, for directions go to mainetrailfinder.com/trails/trail/douglas-mountain.

Denise Dowling is a magazine editor who lives in South Portland.


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