QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 230 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~6 miles in network
- Pets: no
- Difficulty: easy
- Sights: Cathance River, heath
This is one of my favorite walks. The trail is made up of many loops, so you can go for a considerable distance or keep your walk brief. Check the Cathance River Education Alliance’s map below, which shows all the trail loops. I usually start my walk at the Heath Loop, which takes you around the heath with a little pond. Mica and other minerals sparkle along a portion of the trail.
To continue to the river, head toward the Ecology Center. The Barnes Loop Trail will take you to the pretty Cathance River the fastest. You’ll follow the mercurial Cathance for quite a way as it changes from mild and meandering to frothy and roaring, and back again. Three other loops make up the system: Beaver, Rapids and Ravine.
Some of the trails are easier to walk than others—they are wider, more level, and less rooty. I found the Ecology Center Road to the Barnes Loop Trail to be easy going if you’re seeking a relatively gentle path.
From the Ravine Loop, you can link to the Cathance River Corridor Heritage Trail, which isn’t as dramatic as the preserve’s trails, but is quiet and peaceful. Dogs are allowed on this side of the river. You can also start the Corridor Trail at Head of Tide Park.
This is a wonderful, surprisingly wild-feeling preserve despite being adjacent to the expanding Highland Green development.
Directions: Traveling on Maine I-295 North or South, take the Topsham Exit 31. Turn east toward Brunswick, onto Rt. 196 East. An overhead sign will indicate: Rt. 196/Cooks Corner/ Bath/ Rt. 1. Continue straight ahead. Travel 1.2 miles — straight through the Lee Toyota intersection. Travel approximately .5 miles. Turn left at the traffic light into the Highland Green entrance. Once you have entered Highland Green’s entrance road, follow the “Cathance River Nature Preserve Visitor and Hiker Parking” signs to reach the parking lot. (While more units are being built, hikers are instructed to park at a temporary lot for the Ecology Center. If the Ecology Center parking area is full, additional parking can be found at the Community Center.)