Tatnic Hills Preserve
Take I-95 to Wells, ME (Exit 19). At the stop light (after the toll booth), turn right (west) onto Rt. 109. Travel approximately one-half mile and turn left (southwest) onto Rt. 9, then approximately 2.5 miles along Rt. 9 and turn left (southeast) onto Rt. 9B. Travel east on 9B for only about 250 feet and turn right, then travel south on Cheney Woods Road. Follow Cheney Woods Road south for approx. 2.5 miles (it will turn into a dirt road after one half mile), stay on Cheney Woods Road, and climb and wind around two sharp turns into the Tatnic Hills. Turn left into a small parking area (north side of road) at the top of the hill once the road becomes flat (if the road turns back to pavement from gravel, you have traveled approximately 0.2 miles beyond the small parking lot).
The Red Trail, to the east of the parking lot, is a 1-mile moderate hike through white pine and mixed hardwood forest. Of particular interest are scattered shagbark hickory trees, a species at the northern limit of its range in southern Maine. This hike includes meadow openings along granitic outcroppings and nice views of the Tatnic Hills. Visitors may also see evidence of recent harvesting that has influenced forest succession in the area.
The White Trail, to the west of the parking lot, is an easy 1-mile hiking loop. This trail transits through old fields that have succeeded to pine-oak woodlands. Stone foundations predominantly stand along the trail as a reminder of the areas past farming history. The loop also travels along the edges of several vernal pools, and through hemlock-white pine woodlands.
There are a few water crossings. Bog bridges have been constructed by Nature Conservancy staff and the Mount Agamenticus trail crew to keep hikers dry. Visitors may encounter muddy conditions, so boots are sometimes advisable.
The Tatnic Hills Preserve features a variety of forest types in a setting of gently rolling terrain. The preserve contains a mixture of early successional, mature, and old growth pine and mixed hardwood forest. Of particular interest are white oak and shagbark hickory which make up a small but important component of the forest, providing food for wildlife. Both of these tree species are relatively uncommon in Maine and are restricted to the southern part of the state. Numerous vernal pools and pocket wetlands provide habitat for the state-endangered Blanding’s turtle and the state-threatened spotted turtle. During the summer months these turtles migrate from the pools to lay eggs in the sandy soils of adjacent uplands. Hikers should keep an eye out for these rare reptiles during the summer.
Cautionary Road Signage Project (Turtle X-ing): A cooperative study by the University of Maine and MDIFW identified high-density rare turtle areas with road-crossing hotspots. With the assistance of the Maine DOT, The Nature Conservancy, and local towns, temporary yellow warning signs were installed in strategic locations to alert motorists to the possible presence of turtles on the roadway. The signs are deployed seasonally, coinciding with the period when overland turtle movements are greatest, thus helping to maximize the signs impact by reducing “sign fatigue” by local commuters. This project is now in its 7th year.
In addition to the turtles, Tatnic Hills Preserve is home to moose, white-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, ruffed grouse and a multitude of songbirds and other wildlife.
- Day use only, no camping
- No fires
- Carry out all trash, leave no trace
- Bikes and motorized vehicles prohibited
- No pets
- Please stay on the trail
- No collecting of plants or animals
Visit The Nature Conservancy online for more information or contact:
The Nature Conservancy, Southern Maine Field Office
572 Wire Road
Wells, ME 04090
Phone: (207) 251-2256
Check for nearby geocaches to Tatnic Hills Preserve.
Leave No Trace Principle
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Use common sense. If it seems like a bad idea, it probably is.