QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: Not sure
- Trail Mileage: 0.7 miles one way
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy
- Sights: Visible history, Saco River, Ingalls ponds, marshes
Here you can walk in a watery terrain, on the narrow—but solid!—land between the Saco River and the Ingalls Ponds. The old Mountain Division Railroad cuts through the land, and the path along the river follows the old route of the former county road between Standish and Hiram.
The Francis Small Heritage Trust, which protects the land, has done a lot of research of the property, which they describe as “a complex of interconnected shallow ponds, marshes and swamp lands with ‘islands’ of forested land and many man-made features that have ‘reconstructed’ the ponds during centuries of use.”
The ponds, which were once joined, were impacted by our transportation needs. “The railroad and highway left Ingalls Pond as a collection of five separate ponds, with interconnecting culverts. This interruption of water flow has also accelerated the expansion of the marsh and swamp areas.”
The good news: the wetlands, ponds, and lowland forests here sustain a wide assortment of wildlife, including turtles (who are threatened by the fast traffic on Route 113, unfortunately).
As you walk along the river and check out the ponds, you’ll follow the Old County Road Trail for about 0.7 miles along a high bank of the Saco River. You might even seeing some remaining asphalt from the road, discontinued in the 1940s. The trail is flat and easy. You can also cross the railroad to check out the remains of the old borrow pit, on the Old Borrow Pit Loop trail. (We found this trail to be a little bit hard to find and follow.) The borrow pit was formed when earth was scooped out to build up the road and/or railroad. You can walk around the pit’s high rim, where the top soil and other debris was pushed out of the way.
The preserve’s website and trail map pamphlet has lots more interesting information!
Directions: There is a small parking area on the west side of the Pequawket Trail highway (Routes 5/113). It is two miles north of the West Baldwin Post Office, at 932 Pequawket Trail. Beyond the parking area you can see a sign on the right for the P Y Estes Contractor Quarry. If you’re coming from the other direction, north, the parking area will be one mile from the Saco River bridge in Hiram, on the right just after the P Y Estes quarry sign on your left.