Cathance Trails Get a Makeover

blazing at BPFStewardship Program Flourishes

Last year, under the leadership of our fantastic volunteer trail supervisor Gary Fogg, a small group comprised of devoted volunteers, the Land Trust’s Bowdoin intern, and our seasonal steward invested hundreds of hours re-routing trails, updating blazes, installing new signs, stabilizing stream crossings, and much more at Cathance River Nature Preserve in Topsham.

The main goals of this effort were to: (1) simplify the trail system and facilitate longer hikes; (2) connect to an adjacent trail to extend the hiking experience; (3) enhance ecological conditions (i.e., move trails away from wet areas); and (4) reduce ongoing maintenance needs.

While some minor work remains to be done, major changes are complete. You can now follow the Cathance River Trail (white blaze) along almost the entire river frontage. The Cathance River Trail (CRT) takes a jog inland east of the Rapids Trail to avoid low areas prone to spring flooding, but it returns to the river near the Clay Brook bridge, where the CRT continues on adjacent conservation land.

Highland Trail SignThe Highland Trail (blue blaze) journeys through upland sections of the Preserve and can be accessed from Hiker Parking and the Ecology Center. It joins the CRT in two locations and can be used to create a hiking loop. Yellow blazed trails function as connectors that create shorter hiking loops or lead to destinations such as the Class 4 rapids (in spring) and the gorge at Barnes Leap.

In the decade since the trails were created, the forest has reclaimed areas that were harvested some years ago. As you meander through this lovely natural area enjoying cottongrass in the bogs and kingfisher chatter along the river, you would never guess that Topsham’s bustling commercial area is only two miles away! If you haven’t visited the Preserve recently, it’s a great time to get re-acquainted – especially in spring when the rapids are impressive!

Many thanks to recent visitors to the Preserve for your patience while we implemented these changes, particularly changes to trail names and layout. It is virtually impossible to undertake changes to trails without some confusion, but we hope you will find the new trails simple to navigate and lovely to experience!

Trails at Cathance River Nature Preserve – click to view the new trail map