With one week to go before our youngest was to leave for her latest adventure, we decided on a family outing to explore the Northern Headwaters Trail of the Sheepscot Wellspring Land Alliance. The Sheepscot Land Alliance maintains over 20 miles of trails around the interior sections of Waldo County. Our trip along the Northern Headwaters Trail would allow us to complete a 3.5 mile loop.
From the parking area, we entered the woods on the short Whitten Hill Trail that would take us to the Northern Headwaters loop. Once on the loop trail we walked along a stone wall that seemed to extend for miles. Stopping to imagine the hard work that went into constructing such a wall, I found the remnant of a rusted tool; a farm blade of some sort that looked like an attachment for an old piece of machinery. A little further on was the remains of an old cellar hole with the remains of a rusted sink lying on top of the stone structure. These were the only remnants left of a farm abandoned long ago, replaced now by a beautiful hemlock forest.
Continuing our journey we noticed small stone bridges, erected to allow the water to flow underneath; the channels now dry from the summer drought. Further along, we found a perfect spider web suspended between the branches of a tree. The occupant of this web sensed our presence and quickly ran to a branch above our heads. Fearing it might leap to defend its home, we decided to move on.
The trail began to loop around to follow the headwaters for a spell. According to the brochure, we had reached the “pristine headwaters”. Unfortunately the dry summer had left the water level pretty low. I gazed down the narrow river as it travelled beyond a tree bearing some interesting shelf fungus and hoped we would see some rain in the not too distant future.
As we walked along this section of trail, we soon noticed another set of blue blazes; markers that did not seem to designate any particular trail. It wasn’t long before we found a sign noting that the trail was now following a boundary and the actual blazes we were to follow were more rectangular in shape. Eventually, we realized that the boundary markers seemed to be painted over notches in the trees, so this also made it easier to tell where we needed to be.
Not far from this point, the path began to climb away from the river and soon deposited us in a meadow. We followed the blue posts along the side of the field until we found a sign marking the trails entrance back into the woods. There were more exposed tree roots along this route, so between the steady incline and the foot grabbing roots, I found the final section of our travels a bit difficult. Occasionally the others had to wait for me to catch up before moving on towards the end of the loop. Once we reached the Whitten Hill Trail, it wasn’t long before we reached the end of our 2.5 hour outing.