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Thorne Head Preserve

These trails are on the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust's signature property, a 96-acre preserve at the confluence of Whiskeag Creek and the Kennebec River, just below Merrymeeting Bay, with stunning views upriver of Lines Island. Its extensive trail system has access to Whiskeag Trail.
Trail Activity
Snowshoeing Mountain-biking Cross-country-skiing Walking Hiking
3.50 miles, Network
Easy, Moderate
Dirt/Forest Floor, Gravel/Crushed Stone


Thorne Head Preserve is conveniently located at the confluence of the Kennebec Estuary and Whiskeag Creek, at the northern end of the City of Bath. From the parking lot, a series of trails are available to the visitor, varying in difficulty from the easily accessible fifteen-minute Overlook Trail to the 5.1 mile Whiskeag Trail that connects Thorne Head Preserve to the Bath Area Family YMCA. With water bodies to the east, west, and north, visitors have great views of the estuary and the wildlife that rely on the preserve and the waterways.

Other interesting attractions at Thorne Head include the Mushroom Cap Trail and Murderer's Cave. A trip to Thorne Head can mean a thirty-minute walking trip down Overlook Trail and back, or a day full of exploration of the various secrets that the property harbors.

Other Information

Thorne Head Preserve protects over a half mile of shoreline along the Kennebec River and Whiskeag Creek. The Preserve's woodlands range from mature, mixed softwood forest along the shoreline to younger softwood and mixed hardwood forest toward the interior. Large Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and tall white pines (Pinus strobus) dot the closed canopy forest along the shoreline, and a stand of red pine (Pinus resinosa) is located at the extreme northern tip of the preserve. The Preserve supports over 100 plant species and most of the common wildlife species found in mid-coast Maine.

Thorne Head has been the center of watershed activity since the Abenaki Indians traded by the river's highway and gathered wild rice along its shores. In 1604 the land was deeded to European settlers. The area was then logged into the 20th century for great white pine logs. The preserve became a pasture, marked by the old stone walls seen around the property. In the 19th century sailor hid out on Thorne Head, using Murderer's Cave as his hideout. The cave's name recalls the unfortunate killing of a Bath constable during a downtown robbery attempt of the sailor. In 1993 the property was first recognized for its high value habitat, and in 2000 KELT purchased and opened Thorne Head Preserve to protect the property from development in perpetuity.

Thorne Head Preserve is open to the public free of charge from dawn to dusk. Please help us protect it by staying on the trail, respecting adjoining private property, and understanding that natural areas are delicate: no camping, fires, or motorized vehicles are allowed. Dog are welcome if leashed or well-mannered.

LMF Logo

This trail passes through a property that was acquired in part with funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program. For more information about the LMF program and the places it has helped to protect, please visit the LMF webpage.

Trail Manager

Visit Kennebec Estuary Land Trust online for more information or contact:

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
PO Box 1128
Bath, ME 04530
Phone: (207) 442-8400
View website

Nearby Events


Trail Tips

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Make a small campsite, preferably where there is no vegetation.
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Trailhead Information

From the intersection of High Street and Centre Street in Bath, go north on High Street 2.1 miles until the road ends and there is the parking lot and trailhead for the Thorne Head Preserve.

Click on a parking icon to get custom directions
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December 17, 2021
The map shows the Mushroom Rock in the wrong place. Look for the trails that come to a point at the top of the map. From that spot, you can see Mt. Washington on a clear day (easier to spot it when it's covered in snow). If you are looking for a longer walk, be sure to look for the link at the bottom of the map page for the Whiskeag Trail. Most of these trail are also open to mountain bikes. Do keep an eye out for them as they can come quickly. They are suppose to yield to hikers, but I have never seen a biker stop for hikers.
trail magic
December 18, 2019
A nature preserve just north of downtown Bath with a wide, age friendly trail direct from the parking area and a network of narrower, singletrack trails with rocks and roots aplenty.
April 26, 2019
I took a couple of days and hiked many of the trails in the Phippsburg and Bath area.
The trail was very well marked and maintained extremely well. Although the area was nice the experience was somewhat ruined by the noise (certainly no fault of the preserve). For the first half of the trail the amount of sea gull noise coming from the city landfill just down the road was very distracting. Once near the river machinery noise from local business’s took over– although I may have just hit it on a bad day.
If you live or are staying in the area and looking for a place to walk your dog or just get outside for a few minutes this may be a good option. However if you’re on vacation and looking for a place to take your kids to enjoy nature than I would opt for something like the nearby Hamilton Audubon Sanctuary instead.
July 13, 2015
This place is a gem, beautiful trails, woods, and views right in the heart of Bath.
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