Exploring Schoodic Peninsula outside of Acadia (Forbes Pond Preserve, Corea Health Preserve, Corea Unit of Maine Coast Islands NWR, Day Ridges Preserve, Taft Point Preserve, and Bradley Memorial Park)

I love the Schoodic Unit of Acadia National Park.  It feels like a completely separate park, has an incredible campground, and gets much less visitation than Mount Desert Island.  That said, it's Memorial Day weekend and even the less crowded Schoodic Unit will likely draw a crowd.

I had a camping reservation at Schoodic Woods Campground at Acadia NP for Friday night and decided to explore hiking trails and a lake outside of the park.  Overall it was a great experience, hiking over 10 miles, seeing a bear and a beaver, exploring an abandoned naval installation, and catching trout and sunfish while encountering only a handful of people the entire trip.  Here is a map featuring all of my activity.

I arrived Friday after work and after setting up camp set out to explore the Forbes Pond Preserve.  Forbes Pond Preserve is a 980 acre Maine Coast Heritage Trust property featuring the 192 acre Forbes Pond and two miles of trails.  Trailheads are located on both sides of the pond.  I hiked 0.8 miles on the west side of the preserve but wasn't able to hike the entire west-side trail system due to time constraints.  

I woke early Saturday morning to fish for trout at Bradley Memorial Park.  The town-owned park provides access to Jones Pond with a swimming beach, boat ramp, picnic tables and dock.  I caught an undersized brown trout and multiple sunfish in the hour that I was there.  

My first hike of the day was at the Corea Heath Preserve, a 600 acre preserve managed by the Frenchman Bay Conservancy.  A 1.4 mile lollipop trail leads through a variety of habitats including a bog, woodlands and a stream.  This is a really well-maintained preserve with extensive bog bridges and an overlook.  

Across the street from Corea Heath Preserve is an unnamed paved road that leads into the Corea Unit of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).  The land on both sides of the road is closed to public access, but the road itself is open, albeit in rough shape.  The road leads to the former operations site of the Winter Harbor Naval Security Group Activity.  The base was closed in 2002 and the land turned over to the US Fish & Wildlife Service.  

Buildings and parking lots of the former naval base still exist, although they have been heavily vandalized.  A 2009 article in the Ellsworth American detailed the vandalism and the history of the property, and 15 years later the property is still in poor condition, with buildings heavily vandalized and trash strewn about.  While much of the blame rests with the vandals, its unfortunate that the government didn't do more to clean out the property before it was vacated.  Reams of computer paper, various office equipment and furniture, and other trash from the base is still present.  It was still an enjoyable walk, as its interesting to think of the history of the location and watch nature reclaim the parking lots.  Five days ago the US Environmental Protection Agency announced $3 million in grants to clean up the property.  

My next stop was the Corea Heath Trail, a short 0.2 mile (0.4 round-trip) accessible trail at the refuge.  I previously hiked the trail in February 2023 so it was nice to return when it was warmer. 

The Day Ridges Preserve was a highlight of my trip.  Just a few years old, the Frenchman Bay Conservancy property features 2 miles of hiking trails plus a 1.2 mile (2.4 round-trip) path that leads to the river (with advance notice you can borrow a canoe to paddle downstream).  The well-maintained hiking trails wind through various forest and wetland ecosystems.  After hiking the trails, I walked along the path to the river and encountered a large black bear feeding on the path.  Unfortunately I was unable to get a picture of the bear, because fortunately it ran away.  

My final hike of the day was at the Taft Point Preserve, another Frenchman Bay Conservancy property.  A beautiful trail system runs through the preserve through coastal forests lined with moss to outstanding shoreline views.