Tramps in the woods: Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, Deer Isle, Maine
Tuesday November 8, 2022
Taking advantage of a nice November day, we headed out to the Tennis Preserve on Deer Isle, a reserve managed by the Island Heritage Trust and the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. It was a little nippy with a brisk wind, so we wanted something more forest than beach. The trails were more primitive that I had assumed, and so many, many rocks and roots, some hidden beneath fallen leaves, making this hike moderate rather than easy. But we did get a little warning: the parking spots were even rougher than the trails.
The preserve is second-growth coastal woods, with lots of spruce and thick moss coverings on the ground, dotted here and there with large glacially-deposited granite boulders. The woods are tangled with fallen trees, some with huge fans of roots that tore up when the trees toppled, carrying the large stones they had wrapped around. I imagine much of the maintenance work goes into clearing fallen trees from the trail.
We chose the Pickering Cove-side long loop. The trail starts off on what used to be a road to the farmhouse, but splits off into winding paths at the old foundation. The house must have been so tiny. It's hard to imagine spending long Maine winters there in such a remote location.
A spur of the trail leads to the Toothaker Family Cemetery, not on Preserve land, but respectful visitors are welcome. There's a nice sign about the history of the early European settlers of Deer Isle and the family buried here.
A bit further on, you find yourself at the edge of the ocean. There's a big drop-off down to a boulder-strewn shore. It looked like treacherous going, and there was a fierce, cold wind, so we stayed on the uphill trail and made no attempt to clamber down. It was still a pretty steep drop towards the ocean and the trail is narrow and slanty, so of course I had a bit of a battle with vertigo/paralyzing fear of falling. It would have been easy with my emotional support walking stick.
We stopped at few openings to Pickering Cove and Jericho Bay to take in the gorgeous view, but not for very long: that strong, cold wind encouraged us to keep going.
We should probably come back and check out the Southeast Harbor-side loop trail, and maybe the Pickering Cove short loop someday, but the days are really short around now, so we skipped them this time.