Hiking in Maine: Here is your guide to many hikes and climbs in and around Augusta.


Only 6 miles separate the hubbub of downtown Augusta from the relative peace and quiet around Shed Pond, a 37-acre undeveloped pond straddling the Manchester-Readfield urban line. Monks Hill rises 750 feet above the western shore of the pond, its wooded summit marked by a single sign in the middle of a park-like grove of white pines.

Shed Pond and Monks Hill are part of Gannett Woods and Wyman Memorial Forest, two properties owned and managed by the Kennebec Land Trust. Go up the hill and meander around the pond, then exit through the New England Forestry Foundation’s Allen Whitney Memorial Forest and along Scribner Road for a beautiful 4 mile hike.

The second edition of his Kennebec Land Trust Hiking Guide covers 32 reservations and 54 miles of hiking. Visit tklt.org/merchandise to order a copy for $ 18 plus tax. Photo by Carey Kish

This hiker wouldn’t have known Shed Pond and Monks Hill without a copy of the KLT Hiking Guide, a wonderful guide to 32 reservations and 54 miles of trails in the Trust’s working area, which stretches from Chesterfield to Litchfield and from Leeds to Sidney. Since 1988, KLT has protected some 7,000 acres on more than 70 properties.

The Kennebec Land Trust released its first hiking guide in 2014, awarding 20 reservations and 36 miles of hiking. I remember wandering among them, guide in hand, exploring new charming places: Curtis Homestead in Leeds, Parker Pond in Fayette, Jamies Pond in Hallowell and Small-Burnham Conservation Area in Litchfield. What a difference six years makes.

The second edition of the KLT Hiking Guide, published last year, is a kind of work of art. The full-color booklet contains 40 sturdy, water-resistant pages and is bound with a keychain so you can pull out a page and take it with you on the track. You can also add future hikes pages as they become available, because you just know that KLT will be adding more hikes.

Each hike includes a photo and overview of the property, a map with a location legend and insert, a detailed trail description, and driving directions. The front of the guide has an introduction and introduces the generous sponsors who helped make it happen. On the back there is a summary of the property (name, owner and whether dogs, hunting and snowmobiles are allowed), a fold-out map of the area and a checklist to keep track of your completed hikes.

Iconic KLT properties are the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area in Wayne and Winthrop, and Vaughan Woods in Hallowell. Three trails – Tower, Blueberry, and Ledges – climb to the 809-foot summit of Mount Pisgah, which is adorned with a 60-foot fire tower that offers an incredible 360-degree panoramic view. Vaughan Woods, protected by an easement held by KLT, offers delightful walks on old motorable paths, fabulous stone bridges and a pretty pond.

With the KLT Hiking Guide in your possession, you will be able to explore these wonderful and beloved lands and many more, like these beautiful places that I checked off the list this spring.

Gott Pasture Preserve in Wayne protects 75 acres on the west shore of Wilson Pond. The scenic drive to the trailhead on Morrison Heights Road with its lovely views over Androscoggin Lake is a real treat in itself. Then there’s the Shore Loop and the Hemlock Woods Connector, which combine for a 1.5 mile loop that includes time along the gently developed pond, an old foundation, and a hill of boulders.

The view from the Pinnacle of the Kennebec Land Trust Vienna Forest Reserve in Vienna looks east to the Kennebec Highlands. Photo by Carey Kish

The 164-acre Howard Hill Historical Park is an urban oasis on the west side of Augusta that includes a trail system on the namesake Howard Hill, which rises to nearly 500 feet. The upper eastern slopes offer a beautiful view of the Capitol Dome, downtown Augusta and the Kennebec River.

There are the aforementioned trails at Shed Pond and Monks Hill at Gannett Woods, and a few miles north of the Vienna Woods Conservation Area is the Pinnacle to climb. From the granite bench at the top of the little bump, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the Kennebec Highlands.

KLT is fortunate to have around sixty volunteer stewards to take care of its many trails. If you have time to spare, consider helping out. Volunteers are like gold in every land trust. To begin your own hiking adventures in central Maine, visit tklt.org/merchandise to order a copy of the KLT Hiking Guide ($ 18 plus tax).

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island is an outdoor writer and two-time hiker on the Appalachian Trail. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @ Carey Kish.

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