New nature preserve with 2 miles of hiking trails opens in Gouldsboro

Outdoor enthusiasts in and around Hancock County now have new adventures to enjoy in the coastal town of Gouldsboro.

Frenchman Bay Conservancy opened its Day Ridges Preserve, which encompasses areas around Lower West Bay Pond and Upper West Bay Pond.

The new recreation area includes hiking trails and a paddler trail, both accessible from a parking lot and trailhead located on Highway 1 just under a mile east from the intersection of Route 195.

Frenchman Bay Conservancy has created 2 miles of hiking trails and access to a paddlers trail that begins on Lower West Bay Pond. It provides access to a rustic campsite on the Upper West Bay pond.

Visitors can access the water by walking through the woods or taking one of the two nature trails available. A system of bridges in the bog allows visitors to experience glacial erratics, rocks that are deposited in an area where they are different from those that originated in a location. There is also access to a cedar swamp.

Frenchman Bay Conservancy has opened its Day Ridges Preserve in Gouldsboro, which offers hiking and canoeing opportunities. Credit: Courtesy of Frenchman Bay Conservancy

The Day Ridges Preserve nature trails were constructed over the summers of 2020 and 2021 and involved over 800 volunteer hours. The unit and other land around the ponds was purchased with funds from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant program to help protect key habitat for waders and other species.

The preserve is connected to a wildlife corridor running from the Schoodic Peninsula—where a large National Park Service property is located—to Schoodic Mountain, near Maine’s state-owned Donnell Pond unit.

The Frenchman Bay Conservancy hopes the new reserve will help encourage Maine residents and visitors to continue supporting the tourism-based economy in the East.

The reserve also offers a canoe loan program. Guests must pre-register to use the canoes, which are kept on site and are free. Maps, paddles and personal flotation devices are also provided.

Camping at the rustic Upper West Bay Pond site also requires pre-registration. Contact Frenchman Bay Conservancy Land Care Manager Kat Deely at [email protected] to make a reservation.

You can find more information about Day Ridges Preserve and a trail map here.

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