Head of Tide Park

The Head of Tide Park is located at the Cathance River’s head of tide, or the furthest upstream that the tide impacts the river. It is home to a 15-foot waterfall, trail head, picnic pavilions, and hand-carry boat launch to access the lower, or tidal section of the river. The Park is made up of several properties that were purchased and protected in partnership with the Town of Topsham to create the Town’s first waterfront park. The property is the site of the first sawmill in Topsham, as well as a historic feldspar mill that played an important role in the area’s history. The large, tidally-influenced area at the river’s head of tide provides excellent wildlife viewing of species ranging from eagle and osprey to heron, alewife, and sturgeon.

Hand Carry Boat Launch

Important Historic District

Trail Details:

The Cathance River is a hidden gem in the Land Trust’s service area of Brunswick, Topsham, and Bowdoin.

From Head of Tide Park, Cathance River Trail snakes along the river and through its uplands, providing views of the pristine river and its undisturbed natural surroundings. The trail leads to the impressive 60-foot aluminum Clay Brook pedestrian bridge which was locally designed and fabricated.

Across the bridge lie an additional five miles of trail at the Cathance River Preserve. Most of this trail is on privately owned, conserved land, so stay on trails and observe posted use restrictions.

Directions to Head of Tide Park: Cathance Road, Topsham. Coming from the south, parking areas are located on the right just before short bridge over the river, and on the left just past the bridge (across from picnic table shelter).

Map: Cathance River Trails


The Cathance River is one of six rivers that converge to form Merrymeeting Bay, together draining 38% of Maine’s land area.  The Bay is one of only four places in the world where large rivers with entirely separate watersheds come together to form an inland, freshwater, tidal delta. Below the falls at Head of Tide Park is a valuable Freshwater Tidal Marsh ecosystem. This unique ecosystem is home to dozens of plant and animal species. Read more…


For the Abenaki people the “Kathanis” or crooked river was a means of transportation, a source of food, and a convenient location for settlements. In 1715, the Pejepscot Proprietors, a group of Boston business investors selected the falls of the Cathance for the first sawmill in Maine. By the late 1800s the water power at Head of Tide Park was being used to process locally quarried feldspar for a booming global market. Read more…


The Cathance offers diverse recreational opportunities. There are over 8 miles of trails along the river that lead hikers through the hush of deep woods, along active farm fields, and provide views of the pristine Cathance. For a relatively short river, the Cathance provides a wide range of paddling experiences including flatwater, tidal wetlands, and “a gorgeous class III-IV creek run” of white water. Fishing and hunting opportunities are diverse and long standing traditions along the river. Read more…