In 2012 work began on the 47-mile Hills to Sea Trail from Unity Village to City Point in Belfast, and the last section was completed in September 2016. The footpath winds its way to the coast through the communities of Unity, Knox, Freedom, Montville, Morrill, Waldo and Belfast linking with schools and farms along the way. Most sections of the trail are open year-round for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The Hills to Sea Trail connects with existing trails of Coalition partners and uses some of these trails for the Hills to Sea route.
Hills to Sea Trail section descriptions from west to east
Unity Village to Quaker Hill Road (east crossing) - Unity - 3 miles
Relatively flat terrain. The trail passes though the Unity College campus. Look for the metal Hills to Sea yellow confidence markers and blue blazes. Highlights: Sandy Stream bridge and expansive views from Quaker Hill fields. In places there is rough ground and roots.
Quaker Hill Road to MOFGA Common Ground Education Ctr. - Unity - 2.7-miles
Level to rolling terrain. Sandy Stream crossing has steep banks and may require shallow wading. Use the Mussey Road cut-off route when the stream is impassable due to high water. There is a kiosk and parking at MOFGA. Highlights: Mature forest, views from height of land, Sandy Stream.
MOFGA Common Ground Ed. Ctr to Hunter Road trail - Unity -1.8 miles
Walk south on Crosby Brook Rd for 0.5 mile to the Berry Road. Right on Berry Road to Mussey Road, left on Mussey Road to Hunter Road. Trail enters woods 0.3 miles south of intersection of Mussey Road and Town Farm Road. Highlight: Sandy Stream wooden car bridge and quiet country roads.
Hunter Road to Clark Road - Unity - 4.3 miles
Undulating terrain with minor elevation changes and one stream crossing that during high water may be impassible. Easy, stepping stone crossing most of the time. Highlights: Sandy Stream and Fly Brook, mature forest, Northern white cedar swamp.
Clark Road to Stevens Road - Unity - 1.9 miles
On the south side of the Clark Road the trail winds through mature forest and undulating terrain before re-crossing the Clark Road and snaking through a cedar swamp with ample bog bridging. Highlights: Mature forest, Northern white cedar swamp.
Stevens Road to Rte 137 - Unity to Knox - 2.1 miles
For 0.9 miles the trail follows the Stevens and Weed roads. It re-enters the woods on the Weed Road and follows Sandy Stream for nearly a mile before reaching Rte 137. The trail continues on the south side of Rte 137 about 150 yards to the west (toward Freedom Village). Highlights: Sandy Stream, mature hemlock forest.
Rte 137 to Freedom Pond Road - Knox, Freedom, Montville - 1.3 miles
From Rte 137 it is 0.3 mile to the spur trail junction that goes to Freedom General Store in Freedom Village. It is 0.4 mile from the junction to the store where there is a kiosk and parking (note that the trail goes between two houses across from Freedom General Store). Continuing south from the trail junction will bring you to Freedom Pond Road in 1 mile. Highlights: Pleasant forest and views from Springvale Farm fields.
Freedom Pond Road to Penney Road - Montville - 3.7 miles
The Hills to Sea route follows Midcoast Conservancy's Goose Ridge Trail and meanders through a mix of forest types and ages and climbs 300' over a couple of miles to Goosepecker Ridge. Farm fields along the ridgeline offer captivating views to the northeast. Trail descends steeply along a pipeline corridor before re-entering the woods and intersecting the Penney Road. Highlights: great views, peaceful forest.
Penney Road to Halldale Road - Montville - 4.8 miles
The route follows Midcoast Conservancy Trails on 1,100 acres of conserved land in the Sheepscot River headwaters. Minor elevation changes for the first 2 miles, and then the trail climbs 400', follows the ridgeline of Whitten Hill for 0.5 mile then drops 200' to junction with Halldale Road. At 3.5 miles the route intersects the Whitten Hill Trail. The Whitten Hill Trailhead and parking area is less than 0.2 mile down the trail. Highlights: Pristine headwaters streams and many large white pines and hemlocks.
Halldale Road to Rte 220 - Montville - 3.9 miles
Follows Midcoast Conservancy and Georges River Land Trust trails. Minor elevation changes for first mile and in next mile climb 450' to top of 1,115' Hogback Mountain. Steep, winding descent to Rte 220. Highlights: Secluded headwaters stream in mature forest, view to ocean from Hogback Mtn. Park near the entrance to Frye Mountain on the Walker Ridge Road by the building and walk up Walker Ridge Road 0.4 mile to trail.
Rte 220 to jeep road SE of Frye Mtn. - Montville to Knox - 5.5 miles
The route follows the Georges Highland Path (GHP) managed by Georges River Land Trust (GRLT) and located within the 5,240 acre state-owned Frye Mountain Wildlife Management Area. For the first 2 miles the trail undulates with little elevation gain and crosses lovely Bartlett Stream and two gravel roads. After the second gravel road the trail ascends quickly to a junction on the SW end of Frye Mountain. Here the Hills to Sea route turns left to follow the ridge while the GHP splits to form a loop around the mountain back to this point. The trail follows the ridge to the 1,122' summit of Frye Mtn. (no views) and then descends gradually over a series of ridges to the northeast, leaving the loop trail before reaching an old jeep road with seasonal parking on the roadside. Highlights: Long section of uninterrupted woods.
Frye Mtn. jeep road to Mixer Pond Road kiosk on Rte 137 - Knox - 2.2 miles
Turn left on the jeep road and follow for 0.5 mile, then turn right onto a smaller dirt road. After 0.6 mile the trail leaves the road and in another 0.6 mile reaches Rte 137. Turn right and follow Rte. 137 for 0.2 mile to Mixer Pond kiosk. Highlights: quiet woods on one of the longest sections of trail between paved roads.
Mixer Pond Road at Rte 137 to Savage Road kiosk ~ Knox to Waldo - 2.3 miles
The trail follows Rte 137 for .7 mile then enters the woods on the south side of Rte 137. A short distance after entering the woods, the trail climbs a steep 100-foot escarpment and in 1.3 miles, intersects Rte 131. From Rte 131, the trail follows the Savage Road for 1 mile before re-entering the woods on the left just past a kiosk. Highlights: Quiet woods, beautiful and interesting escarpment and quiet country road.
Savage Road to Rte 137 (Waterville Road) - Waldo - 3.2 miles
Trail leaves Savage Road on the left, follows the CMP power line, crosses Pendleton Stream on a bridge, and continues uphill through woods onto a dirt road. Trail goes back into the woods before coming out onto the gravel Gurney Hill Road. Turn right onto Rte 137 for 0.5 mile, then right onto Bonne Terre Road for 0.5 mile. Trail leaves road on left and enters the woods. It is another 1.25 miles to the Rte 137 kiosk next to the Waldo County Technical Center. Highlights: Quiet woods and quiet country road.
Rte137 (Waterville Road) to Rte 7 (Moosehead Trail) - aldo - 1.6 miles
Wooded and fairly level; goes past a large beaver pond through hilly woods, left onto a woods road (Poland Road) a short distance then back into the woods. Trail goes through a large recent cut before coming out onto a field and the last few hundred yards to Rte 7 where there is a kiosk and parking on the east side of the road.
Rte 7 (Moosehead Trail) to City Point Train Station - Waldo to Belfast - 2.5 miles
Trail follows dirt road for 0.5 mile then turns right into a remote wooded stretch of 2 miles through hilly terrain, mossy boulders and a bridge across Marsh Fork to the Central Maine Power substation. Trail crosses E. Waldo Road and it's another 0.3 mile through the woods to Oak Hill Road at City Point Railroad Station where there is a kiosk and parking at the eastern end of the Hills to Sea Trail. The Belfast Rail Trail begins across the street and it's another 2.6 miles to the public wharf at the bottom of Main Street on the Belfast waterfront. Highlights: Quiet woods, beautiful stream.
I am announcing my intent to run the course supported from west to east on 4/4/19 starting at approximately 7am. I will carry two GPS watches and a phone for verification. Trip report to follow.
I am announcing my intent to run the course unsupported from west to east on 5/14/20 starting at approximately 5am. I will carry an Ambit 3 Peak GPS watch and take pictures along the course for verification. I will provide trip report details on the Strava upload.
Unsuccessful attempt today on 5/14/20 - I ran out of light and decided not to finish by headlamp. Bailed after about 14 hours and a bit over 40 miles. Weather was perfect and it was a great day in the woods!
I'm going to attempt this tomorrow, west to east, starting around 7am.
I had to stop after 22 miles and 5.5 hours. Fun time on a nice trail (until it wasn't fun).
I am attempting the new FKT tomorrow with my brother In-law.
Going for this tomorrow, Sunday, 28 June. Will carry a GPS watch and phone. I'll check back in tomorrow night to post a report.
- Cliff White
I finished up last night (Sunday, June 28) around 8:30 p..m., in around 12:30. I was making good time until around halfway, when my stomach flipped due to hot temps and not enough salt. I was still within striking distance after the climb up and over Frye Mountain, but I couldn't keep any food down and had no energy to run.
This was harder than I thought it would be, with most sections tough to run consistently. Some portions of the trail were overgrown and most of it was either hilly or bumpy. Strava said 5,000+ feet of elevation but the toughest part wasn't the sustained climbs but rather the constantly bumpy terrain, which required an extra effort to overcome.
I'm not a good hot-weather runner and I am tempted to make another attempt in the fall, but honestly, this one hurt so much I don't have much stomach for it.
Congrats to the current record-holders - 11:25 may seem eminently do-able (it did to me), but that's a pretty good time!
A question - i am planning on going for this on saturday, but am noticing online a trail closure on Hogback Mt. at about the halfway point. The website i found this on (the trails conservancy in that area) posted this closure in April, but it seems your attempt is much more current than that - did you come across this in your run?
Sorry not to have responded earlier. There is a trail closure, but I was fortunate to run into one of the trail caretakers, who said it would be OK for me to bypass the closed signs and make my way up and over Hogback Mt. Be warned - the summit is full of construction materials, and it appears the landowner is building some kind of camp/lodge up there. I didn't run into anyone through that section though.
Will be attempting this route supported on Saturday, August 22. Will be recording on a Coros Apex, and will be bringing a phone and attempting to record on Gaia as well. Will post Sunday morning!
- Tim Lock
1. Each year there are short sections of the trail that get re-routed due to forestry operations, therefor any GPS track of the trail is likely to have inaccuracies.
2. About 2/3s of the trail is on privately owned land and each year there are closures of trail sections beginning sometime in September for hunting seasons and the lead-up to hunting seasons. If we do not respect these closures eventually some of the landowners will withdraw permission for use and the trail will cease to exist as a through trail. 3. The trail crosses about 9 farm properties and some of these farms have animals and put up fencing near or even across the trail (sometimes a single electric wire) without telling us about it. We ask them to flag it but it is difficult to constantly monitor this in order to ensure visibility of fencing. Running at night can be particularly problematic with regard to fencing.