With summer winding down, we were looking to take advantage of some of the last of the warm weather so we headed up the coast for a hike on the Great Salt Bay Preserve Heritage Trail in Newcastle. It was an interesting hike with varied trails and some fun vistas.
Vistas. While the initial path was on the edge of the marsh and marked by planks to keep you above any mud and water, the trail quickly turned into a more wooded area without direct views of the bay. Fortunately, there were plenty of side trails leading to viewing areas throughout the hike. These side paths bring you to the water’s edge and open up views from all angles. Some of the vistas included Grandfather Point, Picnic Point, and Lookout Point.
Sheep Pass. About halfway through the three-mile trail, you need to go through a tunnel that passes underneath Route 1. Apparently it can be challenging at certain times, although there hadn’t been a lot of rain before our visit so we didn’t have any issues passing through the tunnel. It was still a bit intimidating. I’m not a tall person but even I had to crouch as I walked through the tunnel while trying to stay balanced on the boards lined along the bottom. Only one slip so it was a win.
Glidden Midden. This stop was the highlight of the hike. This side trail takes you to the Midden which is a historical site covered in oyster shells. According to the Portland Press Herald, “Shell middens are enormous heaps of oyster shells built by coastal Native Americans.“1 The oysters remains color everything in white and they are everywhere.
Crabs. When we stopped at the midden, the shallow water at the edge of the beach was full of crabs racing back and forth in their sideways crawl and occasionally squabbling with one another. It was both fascinating and a little unsettling. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies and kept waiting for their coordinated shoreline attack, but fortunately they stayed in the water.
Post Hike Dinner
After our hike we headed into downtown Damariscotta and enjoyed lunch at King Eider’s Pub. Keeping with the crab theme from the hike, we ordered crab cakes as a starter and enjoyed our meal with a couple of local beers. It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere with good food and friendly staff. It was the perfect spot to unwind after our hike.
This hike was a bit of a mix. The first half of the trail follows Great Salt Bay and while there are spots of wooded forest during this section, there are amply opportunities to get to the water’s edge and enjoy the great views. However, once you get past the Glidden Midden, it becomes a more woodsy, less maintained trail with areas of overgrowth and narrowing trails all of which made for a more bug intense end to the hike. No complains, but be prepared. Pack the bug spray.
Route one also runs through the middle of this trail so while the woods provide cover from the road and cars, you can hear a fair amount of steady traffic. It’s a small price for beautiful views and a visit to a historical spot. It’s a fun hike and worth the trek.
|things to know|
|Trail||Salt Bay Heritage Trail|
|Address||116 Mills Road (Lincoln County Publishing parking lot), Newcastle, ME 04553|
|Website||Salt Bay Heritage Trail|
|Favorite ♥||The Middens|
1 Christie, J. (2011, July 10). It’s Worth the Trip: Plenty to please day hikers near Damariscotta River. Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://www.pressherald.com/2011/07/10/its-worth-the-trip_2011-07-10/