Hirundo is a 2,400-acre nature preserve, spanning Pushaw and Dead Streams, Lac D’Or (lake), vast wetlands, including domed bog and maple and juniper swamps, and mixed hardwood and evergreen forests. Only 10 miles from the University of Maine, Orono Campus and 18 miles from Bangor, visitors paddle canoes for a modest donation and watch playful river otters, mink, breeding Wood Ducks, Bald Eagles, and listen to the American Bittern in the tranquil beauty. While hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, one might encounter moose, deer, red fox, muskrat, beaver, black bear and fisher.
Birdwatchers enjoy such breeding and migrating birds as Virginia Rail, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Goshawk, Northern Harrier, Blackburnian and Nashville Warblers, Scarlet Tananger, Common Snipe, Woodcock, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Rough-winged and Tree Swallows, and Olive-Sided, Yellow-Bellied, Alder, Great Crested and Least Flycatchers.
Wabanaki Trail (0.6-0.7 mile loops, easy): This interpretive trail's terrain is mostly level and has a short, uneven section. It passes through floodplain and coniferous forest and includes a short boardwalk alongside a newly created beaver dam. Additional highlights are the site of a former Red Paint people village (approx. 7000 years old), and a muskrat lodge. The trail intersects with Thornplum and Big Spring Trails creating loops of 0.6 or 0.7 miles. Time commitment approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on route chosen. Note: trail portion by the floodplain forest floods during high water conditions.
Pushaw Trail (0.9-1.7 mile loops, easy): The Pushaw Trail follows the stream and has a short steep portion on the southern end. The trail has interpretive signs and connects with Pond, White Pine and Conifer Trail creating loops between 0.9 to 1.7 miles. Time commitment approximately 45-60 minutes, depending on route chosen. All of these trails are forested and easy. Note: trail portion by the floodplain forest floods during high water conditions.
Thornplum Trail (0.3 miles, easy): The Thornplum Trail combines travel along a dirt road and a mowed path through a meadow featuring pioneer species. A bench is in the middle of meadow for bird watching. Time commitment approximately 45 minutes, depending on route chosen.
Conifer Trail (0.3 miles, easy): The Conifer Trail conforms to the wooded, rolling landscape which extents southward up to the Beech Trail (Gate 6). Watch for the Cedar tree on eastern end of the trail. It has a variety of woodpecker holes and callus tissue that formed around the holes in response to the injury. Time commitment approximately 30 -45 minutes, depending on route chosen.
White Pine Trail (0.3 miles, easy): Along the White Pine Trail, west of the Pond Trail, are the largest white pines in the refuge. Toward the east, the White Pine trail's forest floor has many exposed roots and passes through a cedar swamp via footbridge. Time commitment approximately 30 -45 minutes, depending on route chosen.
Pond Trail (0.3 miles, easy): The Pond Trail is an ADA trail that cirles the northwest shore of Lac D'or. The trail is flat and wide, with a hard-packed surface and gaurd rails. A guide rope runs along the entire length to assist those with visual, physical or mental limitations. Interpretive trail signage and interactive stations describing the varied habitats along the trail encourage a multi-sensory exploration of nature through sight, touch, and smell.
Meadow Loop (0.1 miles, easy): The Meadow Loop is an ADA trail that meanders through the woods to a wide open field, where many swallows and other birds swoop across the sky. The trail is flat and wide, with a hard-packed surface and gaurd rails. A guide rope runs along the entire length to assist those with visual, physical or mental limitations. Interpretive trail signage and interactive stations encourage a multi-sensory exploration of nature through sight, touch, and smell.
Trappers Trail (1 mile, easy): The Trappers Trail is an old, wooded logging road, as are most of the trails south of ME Route 43 and easy to walk. The trail ends at a small shelter (a geocache site). Four loop trails branch of from this trail. Time commitment depends on route chosen.
Hemlock Trail (0.8 miles, moderate): The Hemlock Trail (0.8 miles) is one of the 'wildest' trails at the Refuge. It leads through predominately hemlock forest, includes several footbridges and a bench to enjoy the high Hemlock canopy. Trail can be wet especially in the spring; we recommend good footwear. Time commitment approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on route chosen. Interpretive Trail.
Beech Trail (0.9 miles, moderate): The Beech Trail, like the Hemlock trail, includes wet areas, particularly on the southern and western side where it skirts a wooded wetland. Exposed rock, roots and hammocks along the western side of the trail require attention while walking and good footwear (no flip-flops). Highlights along this trail are a well-used deer scrape, large area of Christmas ferns, and a resting place with bench (off-trail) on a mount. From there the trail turns into an old logging road with smoother terrain and a beech forest. Time commitment approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on route chosen.
Indian Pipe Trail (0.5 miles, easy): The Indian Pipe Trail (0.5 miles) is an interpretive trail that traverses in the only hardwood forest on the refuge. It features bright sunshine and the rustling of beech leaves during the winter and dabbled sunlight in the summer month. Look for the porcupine den and the bear claw marks. Time commitment approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on route chosen.
Hirundo is the Latin word for swallow. Scores of tree swallow nest boxes attract swallows and bluebirds, breeding in the Spring. Hirundo Wildlife Refuge was founded by Oliver Larouche from his parents’ 3 acre camp in 1976, expanding to its present 2,400-acre size. In 1982 the Refuge was donated as a trust to the University of Maine. It is not supported financially by the University of Maine or any other institution. Hirundo is a living laboratory, where much past research and scientific studies continue.
The public is welcomed to visit Hirundo Wildlife Refuge 7 days a week 9 AM to dusk. Gate 1 is closed on Mondays, but there is still access to trails by parking outside the gate. Visitors should sign the log book available at the parking areas at Gates 1, 3 and Gate 6.
There are no charges, admission fees, or membership, but donations are strongly encouraged. The public should call ahead for canoes. There is a clearly marked trail system on 300 acres. Trail maps are available at Gates 1, 3 or 6 and may be downloaded from the maps sections of our website.
Visit Hirundo Wildlife Refuge online for more information and a printable map or contact:
Take I-95 Exit 197 to Old Town/Hudson. Go 0.3 miles to the end of the off ramp. At the stop sign, turn left onto ME Route 43 (Hudson Road). Go west 5.2 miles and look for the large red signs on your right (north side of ME Route 43).
Gate 1 is the main entrance, and leads to the Pine Tree parking lot, Wabanaki and Pushaw Stream Interpretive Nature Trails, and the Parker Reed Shelter at Lac D’Or. Please note, Gate 1 is closed on Mondays, but there is still access to trails by parking outside the gate.
Gate 6, located across from Gate 1, offers 5 additional trails. Gate 3 has parking for the canoe trails and Pushaw Stream Trail.
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