Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pleasant Hill Conservation Area


This 200 acre parcel of city-owned land on the east side of Augusta has a great deal of potential, however it has not been well-developed for hiking. The old road is too wet for hiking, the side trails are not well-marked and a tire dump makes for an unattractive mosquito-breeding ground. However, hikers intrepid enough to take on this rough bit of land will find themselves in a peaceful--even pleasant--patch of woods, well-removed from the road noise of Route 17 and far from over-crowded with other hikers.

Getting There
From Stone/Hospital Street in Augusta, turn east onto Eastern Avenue (Route 17) and go about two miles. Turn right onto Pleasant Hill Road and follow it to where it dead-ends in about ½ mile. A post with “Tree Farm” and “City of Augusta” signs lets you know you’ve come to the right place. There is room for about two cars to park in the gravel in front of the sign.

The Trails

Distance: Approximately 1 mile (loop)
Difficulty: Moderate

Any hiker venturing into Pleasant Hill should come with a sense of adventure and a willingness to get lost. Immediately upon entering the property, an old rutted road leads straight ahead into the pine and hemlock woods. This road appears heavily used by ATVs and deeply rutted and very wet. After about ½ mile it becomes a small, impassable lake. Instead of heading into this mire, take your first left a few hundred feet into the property. This wide dirt trail leads uphill, over roots and rocks. Orange-painted blazes and arrows on tree trunks at trail intersections point the way along a short loop that curves fairly steeply uphill to the left and back down again, along the property boundary and pops out on the side of Pleasant Hill Road about 100 yards from the parking area. More intrepid travelers with plenty of time may choose to explore the many side trails that radiate off this main loop.

Kid-Friendly Factor
Although Pleasant Hill lacks a destination (like a pond or waterfall), which is nice when you have kids in tow, it offers an opportunity to work on climbing hills without a whole lot of distance to worry about. In midsummer, the wet ruts on the two-track road are full of frogs and could keep kids busy for hours trying to catch them.
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