Updated: Feb 15
If the word "blueberry" transports you to sunshiny mountain trails in the summer months, I'm with you - and we will get there. But for now, we'll focus on this wintry hike and all that it has to offer us: a skating pond, two summits over 400 feet, babbling brooks, tucked-away ponds, and a deserted (shall we say creepy?) Boy Scout camp in the woods.
There are many trailheads for Knight's Pond Preserve, including:
1. Bruce Hill - located off of route 115 in North Yarmouth via Henry and Tower Roads.
2. Blueberry Hill - located at the very end of Greely Road Extension in Cumberland. There is no marker, but head straight up the dirt road and you will soon see trail blazes.
3. Knight's Pond parking lot - 477 Greely Road Extension, about 1/4 mile down the road from the Blueberry Hill trailhead.
I've recently explored these trails in full sun, setting sun and no sun - in the wee hours of morning with my headlamp. That last plan was not my best. I was hoping for a sunrise hike, but due to weather, the sun never appeared. It was a dark, damp, walk in the woods, with one spooked and cowardly dog.
Why would I leave the house at 5:00am to drive to Cumberland for a dark walk in the woods? 1) I am a morning person who seeks out any opportunity to see the sunrise, and 2) I'd been trying to explore this final section of Knight's Pond for days, but was having trouble finding time during the work week...and weekends had been equally full. Therefore, it seemed completely rational (at 4:15am) to just do the hike before the day even started. In reality, nothing makes much sense that early in the morning.
Knight's Pond includes 334-acres, 5.9 miles of trails in-network, endless routes and lots of options. I am going to suggest the route I did with my mom recently, which will take you on a tour of all there is to see here. It also includes two hidden Seek'ems, if you're participating in the OMP/CCLT Trail Challenge.
Park at the large Knight's Pond parking lot at 477 Greely Road Extension in Cumberland. From here, follow the white trail until you've reached the ponds. Pass the first path (on your left) leading to the smaller pond and continue straight towards the larger pond. Take a left to walk between the two ponds, then head right on the trail that follows the pond to your right. If the pond is frozen, it's a favorite skating spot for many, so you may want to add that activity into your hike at some point.
Once you've reached a small foot bridge. Look towards the large rock ledge to the right of it and find the small tree stump. Inside that stump is our first Seek'em. I hid this one in the dark (on bad decision Monday), so there is no photo to show you, but I can tell you that the Seek'em is square and purple. You'll have to be surprised with the rest.
From here, follow the well packed path until you've reached the red trail on the left, leading up to Bruce Hill. There is some elevation to this trail, so be prepared for your heart rate to increase! If you're looking for some cardio with your local nature dose, this hike is a good choice.
At the top of this trail, you will reach the summit of Bruce Hill at 447 feet in elevation. There are some sticks surrounding a trail map, marking the summit. Just behind this, is another Seek'em, hiding in a tree. Here are some pictures, including one of my mom pointing to the hiding spot.
From here, you can take the straight route all the way back to Greely Road Extension on the red trail. Or, you can take a one mile (round-trip) detour and explore the old Boy Scout cabin, located off of the blue trail. When I first saw the words "Boy Scout Cabin" on the map, I was intrigued. As was my mom, who is just as adventurous and up for a treasure hunt as I am. We decided it was worth the detour to find this cabin. We took a couple of wrong lefts and rights, but did eventually find it. I would suggest using the All Trail GPS app while doing this hike. It did help us find the right place...although it was a bit of a winding path. My mom's sense of direction is about as good as mine and if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that's not a good thing.
Speaking of getting lost in the woods, this would probably be a good time to show you a map of Knight's Pond, so you can understand what I am actually talking about. You can also find this map on the CCLT website here. If you look on this map, you will see the blue trail, which can be accessed from the red trail, shortly passed the Bruce Hill summit (from the summit, go right on red, then left on blue).
Once on the blue trail, you will head downhill and eventually arrive at Porcupine Stream, leading over a footbridge to Porcupine Pond. Follow the path until you've arrived at the old Boy Scout Cabin, just behind the pond. It's certainly in rough shape and doesn't look like it's been used in years, but still an interesting structure to come upon in the middle of the pristine forest.
Once you've explored the rusty cabin, sweet pond and other outbuildings, retrace your steps following the blue trail back up the hill until you've reached the red trail again. From here, go right and follow passed the Blueberry Hill summit (451 feet in elevation), all the way to the end. This will land you at the very end of Greely Road Extentsion (this is the Blueberry Hill trailhead), so you will have to walk 1/4 mile along the main road to return to the Knight's Pond parking lot. Here is a map of the full route I took with my mom - detours, wrong turns and missed trailheads included. Like I said, it was a winding path of 3.41 miles that took us a total of 2 hours and 5 minutes.
There are countless ways to shorten or lengthen this hike. There are also several starting off points. Here are some pictures from the Bruce Hill Trail, starting from the trailhead off of Henry Road in North Yarmouth. I found parking to be a bit confusing here, but it is a very quiet section of woods and I did meet a lovely and very energetic, older hiker who shared stories from a lifetime of hiking adventures. There is an interesting encounter on every hike.
There are endless adventures to be had here in all seasons. Knight's Pond is managed by the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust (CCLT), the Royal River Conservation Trust, and the Town of Cumberland. For a printable scavenger hunt at Knight's Pond, plus more details on the trail, visit CCLT's website here: https://www.ccltmaine.org/knights-pond-preserve
I did eventually get my sunrise walk, but it was in Portland, casting its warm glow over the Dominoes sign and weed shop at the end of my street. And it was still brilliant. Often times, the best things in life are close to home.