Hiking or just a leisurely walk in the outdoors is great exercise and something people can do at almost any age. One of the truly great things about living in the Midcoast, are the many land trusts and preserves to explore.

Over the next few months, I hope to introduce Coastal Journal readers to a number of these places. I’ll start with a familiar one that’s close to home – the Thorne Head Preserve in Bath. This 88-acre wooded peninsula is part of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust that’s headquartered at 92 Front St.

Thorne Head Preserve is on High Street. From the courthouse drive north all the way to the end, you’ll see the parking area and kiosk with trail maps and rules. The temperature was a balmy 45-degrees on my visit, although I didn’t get very far before retreating to the car for my Stabilicers, because some of the trails were still icy.

From the parking area you have a choice of two ways into the preserve: Overlook Trail to the right or Whiskeag Trail on the left. Whiskeag is the longer of the two and carries you through the woods to Whiskeag Creek. Some would call this the more scenic route since a part of it carries you above the shoreline. It eventually intersects with the Narrows Trail that loops around the tip of the peninsula.

The Overlook Trail runs roughly north and ends at the Mushroom Cap, a stone sculpture. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the parking lot. From here you get a glimpse of where Whiskeag Creek meets the Kennebec River. Several trails branch off along the way including the Narrows and Mushroom trails both of which run downhill and intersect with one another.

The trails are well marked, but it’s always a good idea to carry along a compass, GPS and mobile phone. There were plenty of trail maps available during my visit. While you’re exploring the preserve, be on the lookout for signs provided by the Bath Garden Club identifying trees, plants and vernal pools.

A short distance from the northern end of Ridge Runner trail is a rocky outcropping known as Murder’s Cave. As the story goes, in the 1800s a criminal used this place as a hideout before being captured. It’s a bit off the beaten path but easily found.

On most trails, the elevation rises slowly and is easy to traverse. Be advised it drops off sharply near the shore. The woods here seem to be a favorite spot for gray squirrels and chipmunks. On my second visit, I flushed several morning doves and saw several downy woodpeckers. Headed back to the car, I was startled when a red fox came out of the woods not 10 yards from me!

A sign that spring isn’t far off is the return of “snow fleas” that can be seen hopping around on the ground by the millions.

There are about 3.5 miles of trails to explore at Thorne Head Preserve. It’s open from sunup to sundown year-round. Mountain biking is permitted and judging from the tracks someone had recently been out enjoying a ride. Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.

For more information, visit kennebecestuary.org