EDGECOMB — One of the most impressive things about the Schmid Preserve in Edgecomb is its size – roughly 766 acres, nearly all of it wooded.  It’s much too large to fully explore in one visit or squeeze into one column, but here goes.

First, a special thank you to Bob Leone of Edgecomb, who was kind enough to lead me on a recent two-hour tour of the preserve. Bob chairs the Charles and Constance Schmid Land Preserve Advisory Committee that oversees the preserve’s maintenance and management. He’s been an advisory member for 18 years and along with other volunteers helped build the 7-mile trail system.

Both Bob and his wife Carol Leone are founding members of Teens to Trails, an organization dedicated to helping young people experience and enjoy the outdoors through the formation of high school outing clubs.

We started at the main entrance at the end of the Old County Road. There are two paths leading into the preserve from here; the one at the right takes you to what remains of an open pit mine where mica and feldspar were dug in the late-19th century.

The other, the one Bob led me down, follows the former road. We shortly turned left onto the blue blazed Ridge Trail. The path runs alongside of Mount Hunger, Edgecomb’s second highest point. Although it rises over 280 feet, the incline is barely discernible because of the trees.

No one knows how Mt. Hunger got its name. According to historical re-search, from the 1840s until the 1930s there was a small community here of the same name. Bob said it included several farms, a school, general store and even had a dance hall. All that remains of the Mt. Hunger community today are few tumbling stone foundations, cellar holes and a couple of old wells.

The Ridge Trail passes by an early livestock pound made from a series of irregular stone walls with a stream running through it. This area was mostly cleared pastureland in the 19th century but over time northern pine and hemlock trees have gradually taken over.

We next backtracked to the Dance Hall Trail, passing a number of wild apple trees, stopping to explore the site of an early settler’s home, its walls covered in a red/yellow mantle of Bittersweet vine.

From here we walked a portion of the Damariscotta River Association’s, River Link Trail that passes through the Schmid Preserve. It led us to a meadow where several picnic tables have been placed. We soon made our way to the old Mine Trail looping back to the parking area past the quarry site.

The story of the mica mine began in the 1880s, when ambitious men believed rich mineral deposits could be found here. What they discovered from exploratory digging were veins of mica, black muscovite, quartz and feld-spar. The purer feldspar had the most commercial value being used in the manufacture of fine china. When most of the better ore was taken the mine was shut down in the 1890s.

The Schmid Preserve was a gift to the town of Edgecomb in 1979 from Charles and Constance Schmid. Overnight camping, open fires, ATVs and other motorized vehicles are prohibited. Hunting is permitted during hunting season, which began Oct. 1. Dogs are allowed but should be leashed during hunting season.

Open year-round, the preserve and is an ideal place for horseback riding, mountain bikers, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

A QR code is posted in the kiosks for those of you with a smartphone. For more information, visit edgecomb.org/boards/Schmid.

IF YOU GO
From Route 1, take the Route 27 exit in Edgecomb by the Cod Cove Inn and head toward Boothbay. Drive 3.1 miles to the Old County Road, which will be on your left. Turn here and follow to its end, about a half mile. The trail kiosk and parking area are on the right.