Starting at the parking area off Grist Mill Road, the path takes you through a mixed forest of birch, beech, hemlock, and pine. You cross over a stone wall into a red maple swamp. In the spring, listen for the sounds of returning neo-tropical migrant birds and in the winter, look for the flitting silhouettes of chickadees shivering for warmth. Leaving the red maple swamp you find yourself on one of the several hummocks in the preserve, a nutrient rich glacial deposit where hemlocks have taken root. Venturing out to the Muddy River, a ripple in the water and a loud splash indicates the presence of a territorial beaver.
Returning to the trail, you eventually make your way to the place where plants eat insects, moose wallow in the muddy waters, and minks scurry about looking for fish: the Holt Pond Overlook. The Holt Pond Overlook boardwalk crosses over a quaking mat of sphagnum moss. If you bend your knees twice, you will see a slight quaking motion at the end of the boardwalk. This is because the sphagnum moss is floating, colonizing the open water in front of you. The quaking bog is home to pitcher plants, orchids, leatherleaf, swamp rose, and many other unique plants, as it is one of the most diverse natural communities at Holt Pond. Pause at the end of the boardwalk and appreciate the beauty of this spot in every season, when migrant ducks swim about, water lilies dot the surface, reflected red, yellow, orange, and brown leaves shine in the depths, or snow and ice insulate the vibrant life underneath.
After the Holt Pond outlook, the trails heads back into a hemlock grove, through red maple low lands and then up to within sight of Grist Mill Road. The trails continues over more dry woodland before returning to a boardwalk through red maple swamp and eventually to another trail head on the Knapp Road off of Fosterville Road.
The trail then continues along the south shore of Holt Pond which is dryer but less used then other trail sections. The trail then jogs further south before returning to the pond and then out to Chaplins Mill Road. After walking about 1000 feet on the road, take a left through an old hay field to join back up with the trail for its last leg as it follows the Muddy River. An additional trail leg heads north up and over Grist Mill Road to rocky formations on Byron's Hill.
The Holt Pond Preserve was created to educate people about the importance of wetlands and how they help protect water quality. However, Holt Pond is first and foremost a nature preserve and LEA has created use guidelines to ensure that the natural beauty and quality of the area is protected.
Please observe the following guidelines during your visit:
Organized groups such as camps, recreation programs, and large families are requested to make a reservation with LEA prior to visiting Holt Pond.
Visit Lakes Environmental Association online for more information or contact:
From Bridgton: Take US Route 302 east, 1 mile past Lake Region High School and turn right on Perley Road. Go 1.5 miles on Perley Road to the intersection of Chaplins Mill Road and Grist Mill Road. Continue straight on Grist Mill Road for 0.3 miles to the parking area, trailhead, and kiosk on your left.
From Naples: Take Route 302 West. Go 2.5 miles from the Naples Causeway, turn left on Perley Road. From here follow the directions above to trailhead and parking area.
Please note that in the winter Grist Mill Road is not plowed but there is a small parking lot on the corner of Grist Mill Road and Perley Road that can be used for winter hikers.
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