Longtime columnist George Smith, whose work filled this space every Wednesday for three decades, died Feb. 12. For the next several weeks, we will reprint some of George’s best columns. Here’s one from Sept. 13, 2017.

As a kid growing up in Winthrop, I would sometimes hike all the way from our house on Lambert Street to the top of Mount Pisgah — a long hike that took me through wonderful forests, with only a single road crossing about halfway there.

So it has been a pleasure following the work of the Kennebec Land Trust as it put together a “Community Conservation Area” of almost 1,100 acres surrounding Mount Pisgah. It’s nice to know this spectacular place will always be available to kids in the future, for their outdoor adventures. I’m also grateful that the land trust continues to allow hunting and snowmobiling there, as well as hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoor activities.

The latest addition of 139 acres to the Mount Pisgah Conservation Area requires more funding, so I’m hoping you might donate to this important project. Just give the land trust a call at their Winthrop office at 377-2848.

They now have two trails to the 803-foot summit of Mount Pisgah and its historic Maine Forest Service fire tower. The land includes some great wildlife habitat, and they recently cleared a 4-acre highbush blueberry field. There’s nothing like enjoying a few tasty berries on your hike.

Mount Pisgah is the land trust’s largest conservation property, but Linda and I enjoy many of their other conservation areas, all of which feature nice hikes — and not ones that require you to scale a mountain.


This summer we’ve been exploring their lands and hikes in Vienna, and now we have a new favorite, the Vienna Woods Conservation Area donated by Muffy and Jim Floyd — 71 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and farmland. At the peak of the hike, a place they call the Pinnacle, you can sit on a granite bench enjoying a beautiful view across the valley to Vienna and McGaffey mountains.

We’ve been all over that property this summer, including the neighboring Ladd Forest, a trust property of the Maine Woodland Owners that includes 40 acres with an amazing bog, small pond, and vernal pools that are full of wildlife.

Another favorite place and trail is the Macdonald Woods Conservation Area in Readfield, near the North Wayne farm where my dad grew up. Dad and I hunted this property a lot, and it’s the place where I shot a huge buck the day after Thanksgiving one year. I had missed that same buck the day before.

The Parker Pond Headland Preserve is another favorite, with a great trail around a point of land that sticks out into the pond.

The Kennebec Land Trust has conservation lands all over Kennebec County, so check them out and get out there to enjoy them. Thanks to lots of grants and the generosity of more than 1,000 members, the land trust has now conserved more than 5,600 acres, including more than 15 miles of undeveloped shoreline in 21 central Maine communities. We are especially lucky to have this group working here.

You can check out all of their properties in a hiking guide funded by Longfellow’s Greenhouses and Kennebec Savings Bank, as well as on the land trust’s website, www.tklt.org. In addition to chipping in to complete the Mount Pisgah purchase, I encourage you to become a member of this great organization.


Throughout the state, we are blessed by the work of many land trusts. Linda and I enjoy wonderful hikes on conservation lands in Lubec, thanks to the work of the Downeast Coastal Conservancy and Maine Coast Heritage Trust. And I must also recognize the many landowners who have donated or sold their property well below market rates to leave it for us and future generations to enjoy.

I hope you know about the amazing 6,000-acre Kennebec Highlands, 10 minutes from our Mount Vernon home. This is a very significant block of conservation land, the result of a long-term collaboration between the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and Maine’s Division of Parks and Public Lands. I spend a lot of time there hunting and fishing.

There’s one remote pond in the Highlands where I take my young grandson Vishal. He can catch a bass there on nearly every cast, and one time caught the largest smallmouth bass I’ve ever seen. I will never forget that smile on his face.

The Highlands offers many great hiking trails. And I haven’t even told you about the wild blueberry field there.

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