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Enjoying the Androscoggin Woods Preserve with Dash

By Cora Spelke, BTLT Summer Intern

Dogs on a leash are welcome at Androscoggin Woods!

I have heard many stories about how polluted and disgusting the Androscoggin River used to be from my mom who grew up in Lewiston. Thirty years later we live in Topsham just under 20 miles southwest of Lewiston, on the very same river. While the water still has a long way to go, the river and the surrounding land can now be used for numerous recreational activities such as hiking, boating, and even swimming.

A view of the clear river.

A lot has changed for the Androscoggin River thanks to the Clean Water Act and organizations like the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT). Androscoggin Woods, one of BTLT’s properties, is 53 acres of conserved land next to and around the river. The property is easily found just off of Lewiston Road, and there is a parking lot directly next to the trail entrance and trail head. As you enter into the woods there is a well-maintained trail that is surrounded by trees, ferns, and other local flora. The trails are clearly marked and bring you along a mile long loop (River Loop Trail) that walks directly next to the river. There is also a shorter cross-cut trail that runs through the center of the loop (Woods Trail). Along the loop there are multiple different water viewpoints so that you can easily walk to the edge of the water to look at the clear, still water. At one of the viewpoints the water is covered in lily pads and is a great place to watch for wildlife.

Dash hearing an animal by the river.

When I arrived at the first viewpoint, which is one of the water access highlights on the trail map, there were two women wading in the water on the very hot July day. Thanks to the BTLT, the water by the trail will be conserved, and available for recreation like this forever. To know that this land will be protected perpetually makes me feel excited for the future of our local woods and waters. If you like to enjoy peace and quiet in the woods with the beautiful backdrop of the river, then you would love the quick easy trails that are located on the Androscoggin Woods property. I highly recommend that you find a time to come out and enjoy the trails!

Cora and Dash in front of the water access point.

Androscoggin Woods Trail NOW OPEN

By George Jutras – BTLT Land Steward

This past Saturday, November 6th, marked the official opening of our newest public access property, Androscoggin Woods, which was conserved by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust in 2019. Androscoggin Woods is 53 acres in size, stretches two miles along the Androscoggin River, and is home to 12 acres of wetlands which provide important habitat for many plant and animal species as well as a buffer along the river against the impacts of further development.

In addition to its value for ecological conservation, the Androscoggin Woods property presents an opportunity to tell the story of the Androscoggin River and the people who have lived on its banks. The Indigenous people who farmed, hunted, and fished along the river were called the Arasagunticook and were part of the Wabanaki nation that inhabited the region for thousands of years before colonization. They depended heavily on the resources of the river from the fertile floodplains for growing corn to the abundant fish. It was these same resources that brought early colonial settlers. These settlers dammed the river for its power, which, by the early 1800’s had severely limited the ability for the once abundant fisheries to migrate up and down the river. Later, pulp and paper mills released toxic waste into the river, and it became one of the most polluted waterways in the nation. It was this river that inspired Senator Ed Muskie, of Rumford Maine, to press the US Congress to adopt the Clean Water Act of 1972 which resulted in the much cleaner river you can visit today.

The official public opening of the property featured guided walks with BTLT’s Director of Stewardship Margaret Gerber and Land Steward George Jutras, with a special presentation from local Topsham historian Dana Cary. More guided stewardship walks are being planned for the spring, so keep an eye out for future announcements if you were unable to attend our grand opening! Can’t wait for a stewardship walk? Here’s the trail guide if you feel like exploring on your own.

With over a mile of trails both inland and along the riverfront, this preserve provides excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, nature observation, and water access with a boat launch located just up the river from the property. We encourage you to visit our new property soon – more information including our trail map and directions to the property can be found here: https://www.btlt.org/conserved-lands/androscoggin-river/androscoggin-woods/