Folks often think of Kennebunkport as a romantic, quintessential coastal town in Southern Maine. Maybe you’re privy to the Bush Family’s compound or visit town for a mid-summer beach vacation.
Kennebunkport has delicious restaurants and quaint window shopping, but there’s so much more waiting beyond Dock Square. If you need a quiet refuge and some nature therapy apart from the seersucker and popped collars, the Smith Preserve is your go-to.
Get ready: Located less than five miles from town, the Smith Preserve is located off of the Guinea Road. Shortly after the Goose Rocks Road intersection, keep your eyes peeled for the trail head and parking area on the left. If the lot is empty of vehicles, it can be easy to miss.
Get set: Providing over ten miles of trails and 1,300 acres of serenity, there lives a multitude of wild fauna and flora. The trails are exquisitely well maintained by the Kennebunkport Land Trust, easy to navigate and relatively clear from leaf and stick roadblocks. The trails are clearly marked with different color metal blazes. Displayed at many of the intersections is a trail map indicating your location and the variety of trail offshoots. In the spring I noticed a handful of swampy soft areas which were easy to circumnavigate. In many swampy stretches, volunteers do a wonderful job at keeping the bridges sturdy and safe.
The free parking area accommodates about five cars, but visitors can park along the side of the road if need be. I visited the trail network on a hot spring mid-Saturday. The parking lot was full and a few cars lined the road, but while running we only came across a pair of mountain bikers. The trail network is relatively extensive, adequately limiting trail congestion.
Go: I visit the preserve on a regular basis, often to get in a solid trail running fix.
In the spring, summer and fall, mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners alike share the trail freely, along with furry four-legged friends (maintained under voice control!). The winter provides a peaceful retreat for cross country skiers and snowshoers.
The network does not provide a huge variety in terrain – it’s pretty equal throughout. This being said, you can run, hike, bike or meander at your chosen pace to create the experience you are looking for.
The fun part: With several trails to choose from, on a beautiful spring day with a few hours of time to spend in nature, I was itching for a longer adventure.
The wide path of the Steele Trail (at one point reaching the highest point in Kennebunkport) led me to the Trolley Trail intersection. Along this segment, there were a few babbling brook pit stops to hydrate the dogs early into our adventure. Little elevation ensued for this portion. I stayed left for the Trolley Trail and veered right onto the Bobcat shortly thereafter. A couple miles from the Steele trail head, but well worth the effort, the Bobcat Trail twists and turns, takes you over rock faces, ledges and low lying brush. There is more elevation variety on this trail with some technical portions, rating in as moderate for hikers, runners and mountain bikers.
I didn’t notice any vehicular noise or man made interruptions on this remote trail- a peaceful solace to identify and appreciate the multitude of chirps and animal sounds.
The Bobcat Trail meets up with the other end of the Steele trail to loop you back. As you follow the Steele trail back to the parking area, take the Fox Den or Brook trail for some different scenery. On a hot day (and if you have furry friends), I’d recommend the Brook trail for some cool water splash therapy. This trail follows a beautiful babbling brook. If visiting in late summer, I recommend equipping your pack with some additional water for the domesticated four-legged friends. These vernal pools and streams likely dry up to some extent.