"Only one who wanders finds a new path" - Norwegian Proverb.
And this path wanders...through mossy forests, empty beaches, ocean cliffs, grassy sand dunes, and cozy camp sites. This trail is a stunner.
It is also only open to the public in the winter months. During the summer months, it serves as a family-oriented campground. The old school type, where you send in a reservation via snail mail. Keeping it real in Phippsburg.
So it appears that I can't keep myself from writing about hiking, as much as I attempt to "take a pause". Although I am pausing the weekly trail challenge, I will continue hiking. Wandering through the woods is where I get my best ideas, inspiration and rejuvenation...and I guess all of that good energy leads to writing. I also get really excited sharing these incredible places with you. So, I'll just keep sharing. As for the trail challenge, we'll pick that back up at some point down the road.
My friend Matt told me about the Hermit Island Loop a while back and I promptly forgot all about it. Until I ran into him last week and he asked if I'd done it yet. Thankful for people who jog my short term memory.
This 3.8 mile loop near Sebasco Estates, follows the perimeter of Hermit Island. As you take Hermit Island Road into the campground, you will notice several signs for permit parking only. Keep going until the road ends at the camp store, where you will find a small, dirt parking lot. We knew we could park here because we met the head of maintenance and grounds outside of the store, a friendly fella. He even offered us a paper map...in addition to a little personal history. He started working at the Hermit Island Campground straight out of high school and this will round out his 47th year. The year he's going to retire. His plan is to travel, since he hasn't had any time for that with all of the work.
My friend Meg, who joined me on this hike, commented on the fact that at least he got to work in a beautiful place. His response was accompanied by a big old grin, "You know what they say, life's a beach."
Aside from a couple of guys clamming, he was the only other person we saw on this island. We had the whole darn thing to our happy little selves.
We decided to take the route counter clockwise, following Island Road the entire way to the outer point of the loop. This wide, dirt road is mostly protected from the wind with sneak peaks of the ocean. It includes many trails leading down to waterfront campsites, if you want to explore a bit.
I would highly suggest using the GPS feature in the All Trails app while on this trail.
P.s. It's free! https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/maine/hermit-island-loop
Although the blue blazes were easy to spot on our return trip along the west side of the island, there were some sections on the east side that were less clear.
When you get to the outer point of the loop, make sure to find the trail leading through the grassy dune to Bounty Cove. This small beach is spectacular and one you don't want to miss.
According to the map, you should be able to pick up the blue trail from here, leading along the western side of the island. As hard as we tried, we just couldn't find it. So, we returned to Island Road until we noticed a sign for the pavilion near a path leading off to the right. Luckily, this trail led us to the pavilion, where we spotted a trail leading back towards the beach. From here, blue blazes reappeared and clearly guided us along the ocean cliffs for most of our return trip. There were also sections of woods with green moss, it's just beautiful.
The blue trail will connect with the red trail and then branch off again. We stayed on blue the entire way, but I later learned that we missed something spectacular. Something we would have seen had we taken the red trail along the water. "Worumbo", accessed by the red trail, is a small cove surrounded by large sections of rock ledge. My friend Matt sent me a picture of it after our hike and I couldn't figure out how we'd missed such an impressive landmark! After referring to the paper map, I realized that we would have seen it had we made the decision to take the red trail along the ocean, instead of staying on blue. A small change of course and an entire experience passes you by. It was a real "Sliding Doors" moment for me.
But I'll be back to experience Worumbo myself. I will also return to explore some other fun places I noticed on the paper map, like Breakwater Point, the Bath Tub, and Sunset Lagoon. So much fun to be had here.
There were many different trails leading back to the parking lot, so once our blue trail ended, we stuck to the wide, dirt road. Just before reaching the camp store, we took the path on the right down to Sand Dune Beach. It's larger than the others and equally stunning.
For more information on the campground: https://hermitisland.com/
Here's a map of the loop trail:
This is quite a special place and I hope you can explore it in all seasons.