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Witherle Woods

Witherle Woods has long been enjoyed by Castine citizens and visitors as a quiet retreat for walking, cross-country skiing, and picnicking. Today, this 185-acre preserve on scenic Castine peninsula includes a 4.2-mile trail network. The trails lead through a forest of red and white spruce, balsam fir, white pine, and several hardwood stands.

Witherle Woods has a long history of human activity that goes back at least as far as colonial times when the French used the site as a trading post, fort, mission, grazing area, and for recreation. During the nation's earliest days, Witherle Woods witnessed military action during both the Revolutionary War as well as the War of 1812. In fact, archaeological research has located fortifications from both events. By the 1870s much of the present preserve was owned by George Witherle who maintained carriage trails throughout the property. At that time, the land was comprised mostly of open meadow.

Beginning in 1985, three different landowners donated portions of the existing preserve to MCHT - a fourth parcel was purchased by the Trust. Over the past decade, the woods have experienced a high level of mortality due to old age and insect damage. After storms in 2007-2008 caused major blowdowns, the Trust worked with a forester and logger to salvage the timber, ensure public safety, and prepare for a healthy future forest.

---------- Preserve Boundary

Download a printable preserve map (PDF)

Preserve History

The History of the Witherle Woods Preserve (PDF)

Preserve information/guidelines

  • No Camping Permitted
  • No Fires Permitted
  • Stay on Established Trails
    • Foot Traffic Only - Trails Are Not Suitable for Wheeled Vehicles
  • Carry Out All Trash
    • Including Human and Pet Waste and Toilet Paper
  • Keep Pets Under Control
  • Please Respect the Privacy of Preserve Neighbors
  • Do Not Remove Archaeological Artifacts

How to Get There

From the junction of Routes 166 and 166A in Castine follow Route 166 south 0.9 mile to the top of a hill. Continue right at a sharp bend in the road and drive 0.8 mile along Battle Avenue to the preserve on the right. Parking is available along the fence line (please do not block the gate).