I like to think the upper reaches of the beautiful Sheepscot River look much the same today as they did in the late 1800s. Visit the Midcoast Conservancy’s Griggs Preserve in South Newcastle and see if you don’t agree.

The forested preserve is roughly pie shaped, about 87 acres in size and stretching roughly northwest by southeast. It has three walking trails; the longest, White Shad Run is a mile and a half. Part of it carries you over a small ridge overlooking railroad tracks and Sheepscot River. The other trails are the Blue Heron Leg, a quarter-mile spur, and the shorter Red Salmon Loop. All three are fairly easy to navigate over hilly, mostly dry terrain.

The morning of my visit was cloudy, with the sky giving every indication that more wet weather was on the way. It turned out to be the season’s first snow. White Shad Run — blazed white — is the main trail into and out of the preserve. 

Before starting, be sure to sign the visitor’s book. This is important because it gives Midcoast Conversancy an idea how many folks are visiting the preserve. A trail map was posted on the kiosk. 

A fair amount of trees have blown down near the beginning, although the trail has been cleared. Not too far along, the path splits; either way carries you on a loop around the preserve. Going counterclockwise brings you to a small ridge, and a wire fence marks the preserves’ boundary separating it from the railroad and river below. 

White Shad Run is an interpretive trail listing seven different points of interests each marked with a number shown on the map. Number Two is a small natural spring where water trickles downhill to the river.

The path soon forks and the Heron Leg — blazed blue — continues southward along the shoreline. Across the river is Clark’s Point in Wiscasset, which rises about 226 feet above sea level. Downriver is the old Iron Bridge carrying the railroad from the Wiscasset side of the river, called Moose Point to Flying Point in Edgecomb. 

The name Sheepscot is said to have been derived from Seepsisacot, the name given it by the Native Americans who came here each spring long ago to hunt ducks and other migratory birds.

Since Colonial times, this part of the Sheepscot has been called the Upper Narrows. Although the river is narrow here, its channel is very deep, dropping 40 to 47 feet in some places, according to navigational charts.

The Blue Heron Trail turns left at a stone wall and runs uphill. At the top is another point of interest, a huge white pine tree identified on the map as the Hill Top Pine. This is about the halfway point. The return loop through the woods begins here and passes the smaller Red Salmon Loop along the way.

The Griggs Preserve is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Dogs are allowed but should be leashed. Be advised, because Midcoast Conservancy permits hunting here. Muzzle loading season then runs until Dec. 8. If you take to the woods, remember wear articles of blaze orange clothing. 

Midcoast Conservancy, located at 290 Route 1 in Edgecomb, is always looking for volunteers, as they have over 60 miles of trails to maintain. They offer family and individual memberships and welcome donations. For more information, visit midcoastconservancy.org.