Shortly after the July 4th weekend, the Coastal Mountain Land Trust was hosting a Fern Walk at the Head of Tide Preserve in Belfast. Since my fern identification skills are at the level where I can say, “Yup, that’s a fern”, I really wanted to attend this walk. Unfortunately, I had already booked other appointments that day. Consequently, my husband and I decided to explore the area on our own.
Head of Tide, so named because it is near the head of the Passagassawakeag River, is a relatively new preserve for the Land Trust. It was purchased in 2009 and it wasn’t long before trails were being laid out through the land. Preserve trails opened to the public in 2011.
When we arrived, we were not sure we would actually be able to access the trails. From the parking area, we looked across a field of waist high growth at the preserve kiosk on the opposite side of the field. We walked around the edges of the parking area before we finally found a trail that had been mowed through the grass. Eureka! We had found the entrance. Making our way towards the kiosk, we found the meadow filled with Cow Vetch and Daisies.
At the kiosk, we studied the trail map before deciding that since each of the two loops was a little less than one mile, we would cover both during our visit. Saving the river loop for last, we began our journey on the Woods Loop Trail. It wasn’t long before we discovered why a fern walk was scheduled for this area. There were ferns everywhere! As mentioned earlier, our identification skills for ferns is pretty poor but we were able to figure out that there were at least 4 different types of ferns here.
There were some areas of the trail where vegetation covered the path and we did encounter one tick, but for the most part our walk was pleasant. We travelled through meadows and woodland trails. At one point, we crossed under the high tension wires. From our observation point near the woods, we saw huge nests on top of two of the poles. The nests were unoccupied so we could not tell if they belonged to osprey or eagle.
Completing the Wood Loop Trail, we repeated the common center trail towards the River Loop Trail. This trail seemed to have more uphill and downhill areas, with a few tricky spots but nothing I couldn’t handle. It wasn’t long before we could see the river through the trees.
For a full view of the river, it was necessary to use some side trails leading towards the ledge. One of these trails was a slight descent towards the water. My husband urged me to hurry in order to see a family of loons near the edge the river, but unfortunately I could not descend quickly enough and the loons were almost to the other side by the time I reached the river bank. My struggle to reach the river did not go unrewarded however, for I soon spied a damsel fly resting on a nearby rock. We continued wandering through woods and meadows before returning to our starting point once more.