Holbrook Island Sanctuary, on Cape Rosier, Maine, offers family programs this summer

Holbrook Island Sanctuary is one of the lesser known gems of Maine’s State Park system. When you want to escape crowds, go here. I’ve never seen more than a couple of other carloads of visitors when visiting this park or encountered another soul on its trails. Even better, admission is free.

Located on Cape Rosier, in Brooksville, on the southwestern fringe of the Blue Hill Peninsula, the park is laced with hiking trails through mixed habitats, has an excellent picnic area,  and a rocky beach on the shore of Penobscot Bay—great spot to launch a canoe or kayak, or even take a dip if you’re willing to brave the chilly Atlantic waters. Trail maps and bird list checklists are available.

The park’s 1,230 acres, now managed by Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, were owned by Anita Harris, who donated them as a sanctuary in the early 1970s.

This summer (2012), the park is offering a number of programs that are especially great for families.

• Saturday, June 30:  Inter-tidal Pools

Learn about different species of sea life that live along the ocean shores. A scavenger hunt will follow the presentation. All ages welcomed. Meet at the picnic area at 1 p.m.

• Thursday, July: How many bears can live in a forest?

Presented by Kendall Mirda: Come be a “bear” and understand how limiting factors affect animal populations. Ages 6-plus preferred. Meet at the picnic area at 1 p.m.

• Saturday, July 14: Maine’s Edible Wild Plants

Presented by author Tom Seymour: Come learn about unique wild plants that are right outside your back door. All ages welcomed. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Backshore parking lot. Bring bug spray.

• Sunday, July 15: Goose Pond Paddle

With Zack Holderbery: Learn about, and possibly see, shellfish, various birds, muskrat and beaver. Meet at Goose Falls Bridge at 7 a.m. off Back Road. Bring your own canoe or kayak, paddle, life jacket, water and bug spray.

• Friday, July 20: Backyard Bees

Presented by Maine beekeeper Jim Reed: Come and learn the about the fascinating world of beekeeping. All ages welcomed. Meet at 1 p.m. in the picnic area. Bring your own blanket or chair.

• Wednesday, July 25: Pine Cone Bird Feeders

Presented by Matt Campbell: Learn how to build a bird feeder with just a few simple items: bird seed, peanut butter, pine cone and string. All ages welcomed. Meet at 1 p.m. at the picnic area.

• Saturday, Aug. 4: Bagpipes are back!

Presented by Tom Seymour: Listen to Tom play various songs on the bagpipes and other unique instruments. All ages welcome. Meet at the picnic area at 1 p.m. Bring your own blanket or chair.

• Wednesday, Aug. 8: Oh Deer

Find out that some variations in wildlife populations are natural as ecological systems undergo constant changes. Ages 6-plus preferred. Meet at picnic area at 1 p.m.

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