The West Woods Trails are part of the Wiscasset Community Trails system. West Woods Trails start in the 83-acre Sortwell Memorial Forest, which is owned by the New England Forestry Foundation. The property was donated to the foundation in 1955 by Daniel R. Sortwell and serves as a working example of sustainable forest management.
Be sure to download a map of the complex trail system before venturing into these woods for the first time. There are many smaller trails not on the trail system, so having a map will help orientate a hiker to where they are on the numbered trail system.
The Wiscasset Community Trails system stretches from Willow Lane across Morris Farm and town-owned land to the Wiscasset Community Center and Wiscasset Middle High School on Route 27.
From the parking area, the white-blazed Tall Pine Trail goes straight ahead on a wide woods road, used as a snowmobile trail in the winter. To walk the West Woods in a big loop, turn right at sign marker 13.
This loop follows the Elderberry, Black, and Hemlock trails. The Elderberry Trail starts at marker 13, narrows, and runs along Willow Lane for a short distance to sign marker 20 (and a smaller parking area 0.45 mile up Willow Lane). The Blackberry Trail goes from marker 20 to marker 18. At trail marker 18, the path to the right goes out to a view of the fields. Turn left at 18 and follow the Elderberry Trail. Cross a brook and the trail goes sharply right. The trail turns right again when the framework of a teepee shelter comes into view. Watch for a red arrow to the left when fields become visible through the woods on the right. Turn left onto the blue-blazed trail and meet the white-blazed Tall Pine Trail at marker 12.
A left turn will take one back to the parking lot. For a longer hike, turn right and walk to trail marker 11. Turn left onto a blue-blazed trail a short ways past marker 11. Cross a stone wall and continue on the blue trail. The trail comes to a four-way intersection. A left turn will take one back to the white-blazed trail. From there, turn right and head back to the parking area.
Or hike straight across at the four-way and walk back on the Hemlock Trail, which brings one out to the parking area on the left-hand side (facing the trail sign).
Plan on about an hour to do both loops, 20 minutes to do the Elderberry Trail loop, or 40 minutes to do marker 13 to 20 to 18, to 12 and return.
For a longer hike, venture further up the Tall Pine Trail to the northern end of the Wiscasset Community Trails system. Again, it is advised to print out a trail map and bring it with you before venturing into the trail system for the first time.
(Directions: From Route 1 in Wiscasset, turn onto Route 27 north. Drive 0.3 mile and turn left, across from the Wiscasset Quik-Stop. At the stop sign, turn left and take an immediate right onto Willow Lane. Drive 0.8 mile and the parking area will be on the right.)