Sawyer Mountain Highlands, Limerick and Limington

I find it kind of sweet that this area is called the ‘highlands,’ since we’re not talking immensely high elevations! What you do find here seem to be foothills that step up gradually to the great mountains of New Hampshire and northern Maine. Nonetheless, the little mountains in this area are great — they’re relatively easy to climb and some offer fine views, including this one. Don’t expect spectacular majesty and you’ll come away fulfilled by this hike, I think.

This preserve encompasses more than 1,400 acres. “The Sawyer Mountain Highlands are located in the largest un-fragmented block of undeveloped forested areas in York and Cumberland counties,” according to the Francis Small Heritage Trust.

There are two ways to summit summit the 1,213-feet Sawyer Mountain. The trailhead off Route 117 in Limington seems more popular — probably because it is easier to get to. You can do a .7-mile, easy nature loop from this trailhead. If you want to summit the mountain, you have two options: take a 2.8-mile footpath, which starts by climbing gradually and then levels out before climbing gently again. The other slightly shorter 2-mile or so route goes up the old Sawyer Road, which offers a relatively steady, easy incline. The footing is somewhat rocky, though. At .8-mile, you’ll pass a route off to the right, leading to Norton Road. A side path from this trail leads to old home foundations and appears to be a dead end.

If you keep going to the summit from this intersection, you’ll soon come to an intersection (with some interesting old remains from earlier settlements). You can continue up Sawyer Road (on your right) to the final .3-mile trail (to your left) that leads to the summit. Or you can take a left, and pick up the footpath (on your right), which leads to the summit.

On the other side of the mountain, you will find a 1.4-mile trail thats starts from the gravel Sawyer Mountain Road. This trail is marked with little wooden turtle signs. You start up a steep walking path from the trailhead, which levels off for a pretty stretch through forest, crisscrossed with stone walls, before joining the old Sawyer Road (rocky and slippery when wet). The road continues up the mountain to your right. About .4 miles later, you’ll come to an intersection with a sign for the summit, which is another .3 miles to the right and up. 

At the summit there’s an open grassy area. If you are standing facing the views, you’ll see a trail off to your left, heading over to another scenic overlook (not as nice as the summit). From there, you can hike down and back up the old Sawyer Road. You’ll come to an intersection with the footpath that leads down to the Route 117 trailhead in Limington.

There is a gorge off the old Sawyer Road on the Limerick side of the mountain. The path unfortunately has been closed off by the landowners to hikers, and I couldn’t see an alternative way to get there, although I didn’t look too hard. (This was in July 2017.)

Directions: For the Limerick trailhead, take Route 11 in Limerick and turn on to the Emery Corner Road. Follow the Emery Corner Road for 2 miles until it ends at the Sawyer Mountain Road. Turn left on the Sawyer Mountain Road and follow it for 1.1 miles (it turns into a dirt road) up a steep hill to the parking lot on the right. For the Limington trailhead, you’ll find a parking lot off Route 117 at a sharp turn in the highway, 2.5 miles south of the junction of Routes 25 and 117, and 2.4 miles north of the junction of Routes 11 and 117.

Little Ossipee River Trail (and the Limington, Hollis and Waterboro Sanctuary and Killick Pond WMA), Limington

(Footpaths in blue, wider ATV tracks in orange.)

The Little Ossipee River Tract, Limington, Hollis, and Waterboro Sanctuary, and Killick Pond state wildlife refuge (or Maynard Marsh WMA) includes over 2,200 acres — which includes a sizable stretch along the pretty river. Parts of the river are languid, parts have rapids. There are some popular fishing spots near here.

There are a few little footpaths (marked in blue on my map) that follow the river. At the north section, you can make a loop by following the fairly pleasant ATV trails (marked in orange) back to the trailhead (if you don’t mind four-wheelers zooming by occasionally).

When I walked this trail, I found an obvious trailhead (for the most northern trails of this preserve) on the side of Hardscrabble Road right after the bridge, and across from Chase Mills Road. The path is not marked but very easy to follow — and it mostly sticks close to the river, except when the riverside areas get too wet or the banks too steep. Then you have to scramble up this tall banks (and the pitch is very steep in places, with loose soil and rocks).

The path meanders by the river for about three miles before turning in and joining an ATV path. You’ll see a couple of old cemeteries. If you follow the snowmobile path to the right, it leads out onto Hardscrabble Road. If you go left, you can take the ATV track back to where you started. You can see on the google map a big sand pit popular with four-wheelers. Stick to the perimeter around the sand pit to keep on a walkable trail.

On the other side of the river, from the gravel Beaver Berry Road, you can make a loop on ATV trails if you walk back along the road, which isn’t heavily traveled. Make sure to check out a cool spot (a sign for “river, dead end”) will be at the junction. Follow this a short ways to what seems like a suitable place for a swim.

Finally, there are some nice wide ATV tracks on the southern side of Sand Pond Road. The pullover is very obvious, just before the bridge if you’re driving west along Sand Pond Road. You can also park at the junction of Sand Pond Road and Beaver Berry Road.

If you head off on these trails, you’ll go .2 miles, then hit a power line. Turn up the power line and look for the trail continuing into the woods on your right, less than .1 mile up. Then you’ll not hit another junction for about a mile, when you come to a four-way intersection. (You’ll pass “NO TRESPASSING, MILITARY INSTALLATION” signs on your way, however.) Once you get to the four-way intersection, to your left will be a track that leads to some scenic spots along Killick Pond, as well as to another entrance to the sanctuary off of Brick Tavern Road. If you go straight or right at this intersection, you’ll cross a little sand pit and head down a long stretch of track before finally coming out on a paved road (the other end of Hardscrabble, according to Google maps). Again, you’ll pass the military land and lots no trespassing signs. There are a few unmarked walking paths that meander along the pond — I’ve marked these in blue. I didn’t explore all of them when I visited last, so there are likely more than my map shows.

Directions: From Route 25 in Limington, turn on Hardscrabble Road. Go a little over .25 mile. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll see a small pullover by the road and the trail. You can also pick up trail heads from Sand Pond Road, close to the intersection with Beaver Berry Road. People tend to park near the bridge over the Little Ossipee River.

Jagolinzer Preserve, Limington

I love walks where you step away from a dingy part of urban living (like a busy road) and into a forest that makes you feel you are very far away. The 20-acre Jagolinzer Preserve is so pretty. Despite the trail only being one mile or so, you can walk to the banks of the Saco River, along a mossy-stoned stream, and to a wall of big boulders that was once a dam. Here at the dam, accessed by a steep little path, is one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve seen in Maine! It’s multi-tiered, multi-pooled. It’s lovely, and protected by the Francis Small Heritage Trust.

Directions: Turn off Route 25 in Limington onto a little road called Olive’s Way. You’ll see a small sign for the preserve on the left. Google makes it look like the road next to Olive’s Way is actually Olive’s Way, but in real life, you’ll see a street sign on the road where the trail head is.