Backcountry Hike (3 miles)

Green arrows show route out, brown arrows show return route

Libby Hill Trails features a wilder quieter area on its southeast side giving you a woods experience that would be like a woodland hike in the north Maine woods.

Summary

Trails: Lynx –> Harold Libbey –> Outback –> Harold Libbey –> Lynx
Distance: 3 mi.

Detailed Description

Start – Lynx Trail – Proceed diagonally across the street to the start of the blue blazed Lynx trail. Follow the Lynx Trail for 1/2 mile. You’ll cross the wider Moose Odyssey Trail twice. In between you will go over a small wooden bridge. You will climb gradually through a beautiful pine oak forest and if you look closely, you’ll see old pieces of barbed wire in the trees near the trail. This area was open pasture for over 150 years. As you approach the top of the hill, you’ll see a new trailhead for the newly created Thayer Brook Preserve’s Upper Trail on your left (purple arrow). Keep that in mind for another hike. You’ll then drop into the first trail junction where the Harold Libbey and Lynx Trails meet.

Take the left on the red, Harold Libbey Trail – Harold Libbey was a local resident of Gray whose descendants donated the two parcels of land that make up 2/3 of this hike. Proceed on the red trail and at 1/4 mile you’ll encounter a junction on the left but keep straight on the trail. This junction divides the Harold Libbey Trail into its Upper and Lower sections. Keep this in mind for future hikes when you want to do different loops. Shortly after the junction you’ll cross a small bridge and then at 1/2 mile you’ll come to the junction of the Outback Trail. Take the left to start on the Yellow Outback Trail which is blazed yellow.

Outback Trail – Four hundred feet after the Harold Libbey and Outback Junction, you’ll come to the bridge over Thayer Brook. This is a beautiful place to take a break and observe wildlife along the brook. Shortly after crossing the brook, you’ll come to a trail junction that makes a one-mile loop. You’ll return to this point so remember not repeat the loop when you come around. The Outback was named for its wild character. You rarely hear any traffic noise here because Libby Hill buffers out the noise of civilization. Follow the loop clockwise by taking a left at this junction. You’ll climb up and descend a ridge that after 1/3 mile brings you to the wildlife viewing area on Thayer Marsh. If you brought some binoculars, you’ll be able to scan the 60-acre marsh for heron (blue and green), wood ducks, beaver, egret, deer, and kingfishers. Be sure you keep your pet tightly leashed here to keep wildlife from being disturbed. The trail continues on the periphery of the marsh for six hundred feet. While in the marsh area please stay on trail and don’t create new trails to the shoreline. On your left you’ll see the Thayer Brook Preserve’s Upper Trail (blazed blue). This trail can be combined with the Upper Trail for a future loop hike but for now stay on the yellow trail. You’ll soon approach a large rock on your right that has rock ferns completely covering its flat top. This rock has been named porcupine rock because of its quill like appearance and porcupines have occasionally denned up on the back side of the rock. Continue on following the ridge where you will see the junction to a private landowner’s, Hidden Gem trail. This leads to a series of trails that is on this private land that is not part of Libby Hill Trails. Please refer to local landowner’s rules if you decide to explore his trail system at another time. You will then complete the loop of the Outback and at the junction you’ll see the Thayer Brook Bridge. Turn left onto the trail to recross the bridge and return back to the Harold Libbey (red) junction in 400 feet.

Harold Libbey Return – Stay left at the red trail junction and you’ll quickly climb a moraine ridge with nice views down to Thayer Brook below. On your right you’ll see the largest rock at Libby Hill, called ‘Whale Rock’. Take a break and enjoy the open woods views below the ridge. Continue on where you’ll see the Harold Libbey connector trail on the right. It is also blazed red and divides the Harold Libbey into upper and lower sections. Stay left to avoid the connector and you’ll come to a bridge over a wet area. Oven birds often inhabit this wetland, listen for their haunting calls.

Lynx Junction Return – 1/4 mile after the bridge you’ll climb up Libby Hill and on your right is the junction of the blue, Lynx Trail. After 300 feet you’ll see the first Harold Libbey Junction on your right but continue straight on the blue trail to return back on the Lynx trail (blue) which brings you back to the parking lot and civilization!

Still room for hike over both Libby Hill and Thayer Brook Trails on Saturday, Oct 1st at 9am.

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