This is a maintained network designed around a primary 2.5-mile long loop. The trails begin from the parking area and trailhead as wide, even, grassy roads but soon give way to single track trail of a more moderate difficulty. Occasional interpretive signs highlight flora and fauna along the way, while several side trails lead interesting features including a beaver pond, birch grove, and southern trailhead off Country Road. Take care on the boardwalks; they are slippery when wet.
In the winter months, with proper snow conditions, much of the refuge, including the peatland, is accessible by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
Sunkhaze National Wildlife Refuge is located in Milford, Maine, just north of Bangor. Established in 1988 and more than 10,000 acres in size, it surrounds nearly five miles of Sunkhaze Stream and another 12 Miles of its tributaries. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge to protect important habitats for wildlife, including forested, uplands, alder/willow riparian zones, cedar swamps, and the large peatland complex for which it is named. The peatland is one of the largest in Maine, along with Caribou Bog, Crystal Bog, and Great Heath. It contains several raised dome bogs with peat deposits up to 15 feet deep. Migratory waterfowl and wading birds such as black ducks, wood ducks, great blue herons, and American bitterns use the stream habitat. American woodcock benefit from the diversity of habitats on the refuge. Neotropical migratory bird species, including chestnut-sided warblers, scarlet tanagers, and olive-sided flycatchers nest in the forested uplands. Resident wildlife includes ruffed grouse, red-tailed hawks, beavers, white-tailed deer, moose, black bears, coyotes, and river otters.
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is managed as part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuges with help from the Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Their mission is to “preserve the peatland ecosystem and maintain a biologically diverse area for native wildlife and plants, while offering opportunities for wildlife- and wildland-oriented activities.” In keeping with this purpose, the refuge is open to visitors year-round during daylight hours and offers recreational opportunities that are compatible with its wildlife and habitat management objectives.
Observe wildlife from a safe and respectful distance. Hunting is permitted on the refuge, with most activity occurring during October and November. Blaze orange is required for hunters and strongly recommended for hikers. During the summer months, biting flies and mosquitoes are abundant. Insect repellent is highly recommend. Dress appropriately for your activity and have foul weather gear with you. Waterproof footwear is recommended.
Please restrain all pets on leashes. Loose dogs may harass wildlife and detract from other visitors’ enjoyment of the refuge.
Visit Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuges, and Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge online for more information or contact:Friends of Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge may be reached one of two ways. To reach the southern half of the refuge, including Johsnon Brook Trail, take County Road off US Route 2 in the center of Milford. To reach the northern half of the refuge, including Sunkhaze Stream and the Ash Landing Trail, follow US Route 2 north to Costigan, and turn right onto Greenfield Road. Take your first right (at Parkway Transportation and Northland Service signs) onto Stud Mill Road. Follow the road as it turns left in about 0.5 miles and then continues east to the refuge. It is approximately two miles from this turn to the refuge boundary. (Note: Do not park along Stud Mill Road; this private road is used by heavily loaded logging trucks which have the right of way.)
Follow County Road 8.1 miles from US Route 2 and look for the parking area and trailhead on the left.
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Don't think this trail sees much traffic, as the path was almost completely overgrown in numerous areas. Beaver dam at the end of the spur on the first section of the trail is a nice spot, although the dam itself is hard to get a good view of. As of 8/6/21, the second spur (located off the end of the first leg of the loop) was chained off to hikers. Take care on the boardwalks as they're extremely slick. The cedar swamp has a particularly eerie quality about it, but is probably the highlight of the trail.
Great place to go after a rainstorm if you're into mycology.