Most hikers will begin their hike at the Hastings Trail directly from the kiosk at the parking area before the gate. This well-built trail is blazed with green diamond markers and features a few bridges, excellent rock steps, and two informational signs. It passes by glacial erratics and cellar holes which are evidence of homesteads in the 1800s. The trail ends at Green Lake where users will find a bench and sign providing information about aquatic ecosystems. From there, take the steps down to the paved road, which can be walked back to the parking area. Stop by the Visitor Viewing Area to learn more about the salmon stocking program and to see young salmon swimming in tanks. This loop is 1.8 miles.
For the shorter Hatchery Loop trail (red diamond markers), hikers may first hike down the road toward the Hatchery and then turn left immediately after the open-air ponds. After the ponds, look for a bee nesting box with a red diamond marker on it -- this is where the trail begins. At the intersection with the Hastings Trail, turn left to walk back to the gate and parking area. This hike is a nice way to see the hatchery grounds, learn about glacial erratics, and enjoy some quiet time in the forest. This loop is 0.8 miles.
The trails are also used in the winter by snowshoers and some intrepid skiers, but are not maintained for such uses.
The Hatchery is open every day from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., except for major holidays. A self-guided tour is available at any time at the Visitor Viewing Area. With advance notice, hatchery staff can offer an approximately 45-minute guided tour for large groups; please call to schedule. The hatchery occasionally closes due to weather -- the trails remain open, but other facilities may be closed.
The Green Lake National Fish Hatchery (NFH) is a large-scale cold water hatchery located in Ellsworth, Maine. It was built in 1973, and fish production began in 1974. It is one of 70 National Fish Hatcheries in the United States working to restore, enhance and maintain heritage fisheries for the American people, and one of the 11 national fish hatcheries in the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The hatchery raises eight river-specific strains of healthy Atlantic salmon for recovering endangered Atlantic salmon to Gulf of Maine rivers. Green Lake NFH releases 650,000 yearling Atlantic salmon smolts (8” fish) and 350,000+ fall parr (3-5” fish) each year. Fish are stocked into the Penobscot River (ME), Dennys River (ME), Narraguagus River (ME), Pleasant River (ME), the Union River (ME), the St. Croix River (ME), the Saco River (ME-NH), and the Merrimack River basin (MA-NH).
Three out of every four Atlantic salmon returning to U.S. waters come from the Green Lake National Fish Hatchery. Indeed, bringing Atlantic salmon back to the Penobscot River has been the most successful salmon restoration program in New England.
For more information, contact the Green Lake National Fish Hatchery:
Directions From Downtown Ellsworth (10 minutes): Drive north on US-1A to junction of US-1A and ME-180. Turn right onto ME-180 and travel approximately 4.25 miles until reaching the Hatchery entrance sign on the left. The trailhead and kiosk are outside of the entrance gate -- it is recommended that visitors park here so that vehicles do not get locked inside the gate.
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