QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: Hundreds of acres
- Trail Mileage: >5 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Sights: massive boulders, pond view, marsh, gorge, streams
I keep having to add to my map of this trail network, and to the post title, because the Phippsburg Land Trust keeps adding land to this large protected area. That’s a good problem!
The trails on the 46-acre Ridgewell Preserve hook up with a series of paths on abutting preserves to form a long and interesting walk up to and along forest ridges, over streams and by stone walls, and to views and historical sites. There’s something ever so mystical about this land. Massive boulders lie like slumbering monsters — they’re called Dinosaur’s Rocks, and it does seem as if they might wake up at some point. There are also remains of old settlements and cemeteries with worn headstones deep in the woods. A lot of the forest is pitch pine — scruffy pines growing on sandy soil on exposed ledge. It is lovely.
Some of the nicest trails are along the ridge and to the Dinosaur Rocks — the white- and orange-blazed trails on the map you can pick up at the kiosk.
In addition, the Ridgewell Preserve connects to the Morse River Marsh Preserve, which has a 1-mile loop. There are pretty views down the river marsh from a boulder.
As of summer 2021, you can now also leave the red-blazed trail and hike north through the John O’Neil LeMont and Duley Farm Preserves. The latter preserve is 179 acres. The loop to the view of Duley Pond from a high ledge outcropping, and then over to Parker Head Swamp, is about 2.7 miles. So from the parking head to the turn off the red trail, which is 1 mile, be prepared to do a 4.7-mile walk if you do the complete loop. This trail was still new, so I relied on the white blazes to find my way (that is, the trail was not always obvious). But I anticipate this will become a popular walk, since the view of Duley Pond is beautiful. In addition, the trail passes a deep gorge, where Parker Head Swamp empties into Parker Head Creek, which should not be missed if you’re hiking all this way.
The preserve at its southern end also has a blazed trail to the Bates College’s Shortridge Center, at 74 Popham Road. The college allows the public to walk its trails, which lead to the Meetinghouse Pond. It is easy to miss the turn onto this trail from the preserve trail, but it is marked by a painted SR on the rocks at the intersection.
Directions: Drive south on Rte. 209 (Main Rd.), 3.3 Miles south of the Center Store turn left onto Pride Rock Way. The Ridgewell trailhead is on the south edge of the turnaround. There is also an access point on Route 209, Popham Road, but it there is no safe parking along the road.