Maine has a wealth of opportunities if you're looking to get outdoors for some fresh air and a peaceful walk. From magical pine forests, to sweeping meadows, to coastal cliff walks, the options are endless. Even better, there are always new places to explore, with your furry friend at your side. If you're looking for a new place to bring your pup, check out these 5 recommended hikes that our Explore More Ambassador, Megan Giakas, loves to hike with her two dogs.
LOCATION: – Midcoast Maine (all hikes are about 30 minutes - 1 hour from Wiscasset)
TIME OF YEAR VISITED: Summer
DURATION OF STAY: 1-2 hours each
1. LaVerna Preserve, Round Pond
(17 mins south of Damariscotta, 12 mins north of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse)
LaVerna Preserve is my all-time favorite place to go hiking in the Midcoast region! The trail starts off unassuming, but once you get past the private property right of ways, it opens up into a beautiful, magical pine forest. Walk another 10-20 minutes and the trees suddenly give way to the rocky Maine coast!
I usually prefer to take my dogs on trails that allow pups to be off leash, because they’re both huge and like to pull me along when they get excited. LaVerna has an on-leash policy, but it is 100% worth it for the experience. It’s also a popular hiking spot, so you’re likely to encounter quite a few folks and their dogs while there.
2. Trout Brook Preserve
(11 mins north of Wiscasset; 16 mins from Damariscotta; 30 mins from Augusta)
If you and your pup are looking for a quiet hike that has some decent elevation, Trout Brook Preserve is perfect for y’all! This is a great hike to let your dogs off leash, as long as they are under voice control. I love hiking here with my dogs because it’s pretty quiet, you might not see a single soul the whole time you’re there. With two big dogs, I tend to prefer quieter trails like this one.
As the name suggests, this preserve offers beautiful views of Trout Brook. The pups love to take a dip on hot summer days. It is so peaceful to sit by the banks of the brook and enjoy that wonderful solitude that you can only find in the forest.
If you take your dogs (or small children) here, be careful about the WW&F Railway Right of Way. Near the beginning of the hike, you’ll need to careful cross the railroad tracks to continue on the path.
3. Cross River Preserve
(9 mins north of Boothbay Harbor)
Cross River Preserve is perfect for dogs that love to swim! A mere 1-mile round trip hiking trail doesn’t draw too much traffic, which means it is perfect for pups to wander off-leash under voice control. Halfway around the loop brings you to the banks of the Back River, a tributary of the Sheepscot River. There are nice spots to sit and soak in the sun, and my pups love to hop in and cool off on warm days.
4. Zak Preserve
(10 mins north of Boothbay Harbour)
Only one mile north of Cross River Preserve is Zak Preserve on Route 27. I really enjoy bringing my dogs here - it’s pretty quiet, it has a nice mix of meadow and forest hiking, and it has a few different loops to match my energy levels on any given day. Leashes are required for dogs.
5. Hidden Valley Nature Center
(30 mins from Augusta; 18 mins from Wiscasset; 20 mins from Damariscotta)
Last but not least is Hidden Valley Nature Center. This place is truly a gem of the area - it’s huge (over 1,000 acres!), it has more than 25 miles of trails, and there are cabins and yurts (yes, yurts!) that you can rent if you want to stay there overnight. Dogs are very welcome at HVNC, although they must be kept on 6’ leashes at all times.
I love bringing my dogs to HVNC for longer hikes. There are so many new things to discover there, every time we go it’s a new adventure. They also host lots of cool events and workshops that are a blast to attend! Always wanted to learn about foraging? Curious about how to use a chainsaw? Want to learn how to kayak? They’ve got you covered!
Why did you choose this location for your adventure?
I live in the Midcoast region, and I am always looking for new spots to go hiking with my dogs. It can be daunting to try out new trails with one (or two!) dogs in tow, especially if your pups get extra excited when they see other people or dogs (... like my Covid girls). I’ve loved pushing myself out of my comfort zone by trying new trails and preserves this summer, and I want to share my experiences for others looking to go hiking in this area with their dogs!
What was your favorite part of your adventures?
There is absolutely NOTHING like going on a hike with your dog. During the summer, I love taking them places where they can swim - which is how I found Cross River Preserve and Trout Brook Preserve (LaVerna Preserve does go out to the water, but the surf is usually pretty strong against the rocks and I’ve never felt comfortable letting my girls swim there). Needless to say - Each of these hikes has put a smile on my face with every visit.
Honorable mention: Hendrick’s Head Beach on Southport Island allows dogs off leash all year round! It can get very crowded during the summer, but it’s a great place to go if your dogs love the beach!
TRAVEL TIPS AND WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING:
Of course, all of these spots tend to get busier in the summer months. The busiest places tend to be Hidden Valley Nature Center and LaVerna Preserve. The other three have smaller parking lots, and you might only see one car there even on really nice days.
I think all of these hikes are great in the winter too, but going in the summer has that added benefit of enjoying swimming in the water for the pups.
Reclaimed Maine Co. was founded on a deep love for nature with hopes of inspiring others to give back to the environment and explore as often as they can. Whether you've recently reclaimed your love for the outdoors or you've been a nature-lover your whole life, we want to hear about your adventures. We're looking for like-minded people who are looking to explore new places and share their experiences. Learn more here or shop our Explore More Collection.