A five-mile loop through Belfast offers several enjoyable ways to experience nature. The In-Town Nature Trail is marked with chickadee signs on posts.

The trail can be walked slowly in sections, each detailed by a map/brochure, or walked as a whole for maximum exercise. Six public parking areas are noted on the map. Four segments, each measuring between 1 and 1.5 miles, are described in detail in the map/brochure.

Segment 1 goes from the Armistice Footbridge to the Boathouse, taking you along the Harbor Walk to the Boathouse. To add an extra half-mile, walk the Footbridge both ways. This is where you can get closer views of birds in the water and foraging on mudflats at low tide, especially in winter.

Segment 2 goes from the Boathouse to City Park along Bayview Street and Northport Avenue. Or, if the tide is fairly low, walk along the beach to the park. Long ago a collection of exotic trees was planted in the park, recently revived as an Arboretum. Learning the local trees will enhance the rest of the In-Town Nature Trail.

Segment 3 takes you back toward town on Northport Avenue to see the State Champion Black Locust tree and State Champion Copper Beech tree. You can also practice identifying sidewalk trees based on what you learned at the City Park Arboretum. Look for sugar, Norway and red maples, red and pin oaks, and basswood (American linden).

The trail turns onto Salmond Street, and winds its way up to Kirby Lake, aka “The Muck.” On the way, check the cell tower above the Sheriff’s Office, in case a peregrine falcon may be hunting from the top. At The Muck, follow the trail around the pond, a good place to watch for spring migrants and summer wading birds.

Segment 4 returns you from The Muck to the Armistice Footbridge by an interesting route. Cross Lincolnville Avenue and follow signs through a wooded landscape — a peaceful place, considering its location behind a shopping center — to the parking lot of the Quirk auto dealership. Cross Main Street and wander through beautiful Grove Cemetery. Come back out onto Main Street, walk up the hill toward town, and take a side visit to the Wales Park pollinator garden. Back to Main Street, walk Anderson Street downhill, through Eleanor Crawford Park, onto Bridge Street, and eventually to the Footbridge.

The map/brochure, designed by Margot Carpenter at Hartdale Maps, with photographs by Dan Avener, can be printed from this link: http://belfastbaywatershed.org/resources/belfintownnatcomb.pdf.

If you don’t have this web address handy, search for Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition and click on Trails. A listing of all BBWC trail maps will appear.