By Jane Olsen, The Bowdoin Orient
After weeks of exploring the natural beauty around Bowdoin’s campus, each location has both astounded me and reminded me of the endless opportunities we have to explore the beauty of Maine. As my last column of the year, Woodward Point Preserve is no exception.
Through winding trails between the trees, this preserve offers secluded access to the coast. With five different pathways—none more than half a mile long—there is something for everyone within these trails. Wooden benches along the way invite the passerby to sit and watch the sea while wildflowers beckon visitors to take a closer look.
The drive to this destination is only ten minutes from Bowdoin. As the road nears the Preserve, signs for quaint side streets like Oyster Ledge and Periwinkle Lane hint towards simple delights within reach.
At the end of the road, between two red barns, you’ll find a parking lot bustling with visitors. These barns are physical remnants of the previous occupants of the land, a farming operation that grew hay and cared for dairy and beef cows.
In an effort to keep the land open to the public, the Cook-Ellis family sold their farm to The Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) in 2019. The MCHT has partnered with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and numerous private contributors to raise funds and manage ownership. This preserve is one of many conservation efforts by the MCHT from Kittery to Lubec, Maine. As articulated on their website, the organization prioritizes access, climate resilience and community support.
The Preserve boasts a 1.5 mile network of trails, 87.5 acres of upland, 38 acres of subtidal wetlands and four acres of fringing salt marsh. As one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in northern Casco Bay, the intertidal lands include valuable shellfish beds, high-value waterfowl and wading bird habitats. The nearby New Meadows River also supports one of the fastest growing aquaculture industries in the state. Not only is Woodward Point a location rich with conservation efforts, but it is also a collection of gasp-worthy trails and seaside views.
A visit at low tide reveals the stunning geological formations emerging from the turquoise water. At each access point to the water, stone steps provide easy access down to the shoreline for dipping your toes into the refreshing current or leaning into the breeze. If you’re lucky you may spot a blue heron, bald eagle or bobolink.
Back on land, woodpeckers, foxes, porcupines and racoons meander through the trees. Aside from searching for animals, this preserve offers a kayak launching point and in the winter, a short loop for snowshoeing or Nordic skiing. For younger visitors, the MCHT offers maps with themes such as fairies or pirates to foster education of the land.
Encouraging knowledge of the environment around us is vital to protecting the future of Maine’s natural landscapes. I hope that by highlighting a few locations around and beyond campus I have sparked your interest in finding pleasure in the outdoors and aiding efforts to conserve such beauty.