Downeast Lakes Land Trust in interior Washington County is famous for the undeveloped lakes that make a visit so attractive. The tiny village of Grand Lake Stream sits at the outflow of West Grand Lake, the center of a robust hunting and fishing tradition since the 19th century. The traditional sporting camps and lodges here are marvelous places to stay while exploring the area. Beginning with an initial conservation purchase of 27,000 acres, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust has been working to protect the natural beauty of the Farm Cove Community Forest since 2001, while continuing to improve its water access and hiking trail systems.
The Little Mayberry Cove Trail begins at the outlet dam and follows the shoreline for 2-1/2 miles through mature hemlock forest. Black-throated blue warblers, scarlet tanagers, and eastern wood-pewees are common among the many songbirds that can be found along the trail.
The Pocumcus Lake Trail provides two loops: one loop is 1.3 miles long, the other 3.6 miles. This trail begins in secondary growth forest and proceeds through thick vegetation into a mature canopy forest. Northern parula, black-throated blue and blackburnian warblers are plentiful. Near the lake, the white pines harbor pine warblers and any damp tangle within the forest is likely to shelter a Canada warbler. It’s a good trail for ruffed grouse and, judging by the abundance of moose droppings along the trail, it’s also a pretty good corridor for wildlife in the thick woods. The trailhead is located 7.5 miles from Grand Lake Stream on the Fourth Lake Road.
Wabassus Landing at Mile 6 deserves a visit. Check the flowage on both sides of the road for waterfowl. Then walk the short road to the landing. The warblers, thrushes, kinglets, and nuthatches are particularly numerous along the road, with an abrupt change in species among the bushes at the landing.
For a chance to see boreal chickadees and other northern forest birds, walk the ITS 84 snowmobile trail to the west from the Third Lake Road about 0.75 miles south of the Fourth Lake Road. The trail passes through spruce wetlands and crosses Hayes Brook, a small tributary to the Machias River.
On the way to and from Grand Lake Stream, stop at Big Musquash Stream about five miles east of town. This large, grassy wetland often yields a view of an American bittern as it flies around the marsh. Bobolinks, swamp sparrows, swallows, and raptors are regular treats, and on rare occasions short-eared owls have been noted here.
Directions: From Route 1 in Indian Township, 2 miles north of Princeton, turn west onto Grand Lake Stream Road and follow to the village. The land trust office is in the center of the village, opposite the convenience store. Additional maps and information are available during business hours, and at www.downeastlakes.org.