Located about four miles east of the center of the Town of Gray, the Pineland Public Lands includes more than 600 acres in Gray, North Yarmouth, and New Gloucester. The forests on this land, along with the nearby agricultural fields, which are now privately owned, once supplied the needs of hundreds of residents and staff at the Pineland Center. Now, this wonderful area of undeveloped forests helps to fill the growing need for open space and outdoor recreation.
Pineland has 3.2just over 5 miles of loop trailstrail to offer its visitors. Two of the three trails are open to mountain biking and one is not. The North Loop Trail is closed to mountain bikes except that bikers may ride south on the trail from the trailhead to reach where the trail crosses the Depot Road and joins the South Loop Trail, which is open to mountain biking.
Taking hikers through ever changing woodlands, the 1.7-mile North Loop Trail covers some steep slopes to reach the Royal River. On the other side of the road, the 1.5-mile South Loop Trail takes visitors on a pleasant hike through the woods on more gentle slopes.
There is an intersection at the eastern end of the South Loop where the Tributary Trail heads east then north 0.8 miles until reaching ME-231. Use caution crossing here to reach an additional 1.4 miles of trail (one-way). The Tributary Trail is a narrower, slightly more primitive trail than the North and South Loops. It passes through a variety of forests, including mature hemlocks and former red and white pine plantations. The Tributary Trail terminates at snowmobile trail that crosses the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad and heads toward Bradbury Mountain State Park.
Mountain bikers will find the South Loop to be an easier, wider experience with fewer obstacles. The Tributary Trail, while open to mountain bike use, is not a smooth trail and is narrow with obstacles such as roots and rocks encountered frequently. Some riders may walk short sections here and there.
Those interested in the natural treasures of this woodland can travel off-trail and find rare Maine blackgum tupelo trees as well as large and impressive pines, oaks, and hemlocks. For another woodland attribute, Pineland has the claim of being home of the biggest ironwood trees in the state.
Pineland offers a wide variety of wildlife habitat, which provides an opportunity to see a vast range of animals. Upland species include white-tail deer, red fox, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, gray squirrel, ruffed grouse, woodcock, and wild turkey. In addition, where the forests meet the privately owned fields there is habitat for bluebirds, meadowlarks, and kestrels.
Ticks are very prevalent in this area, especially along the snowmobile trail referenced below is extremely prone to ticks. Check yourself regularly and use appropriate precautions.
The powerline snowmobile trail reached at the end of the Tributary Trail is available for pedestrian and bike use, though the trail is not designed for nor maintained specifically for uses beyond snowmobiling. It is undulating, sandy, and frequently wet.
In winter, snowshoers and cross country skiers enjoy the South Loop Trail with its gentle slopes and beautiful forests. The North Loop Trail and Tributary trails are suitable for experts only under the best snow conditions. Skiing is not suggested if conditions are icy or snow cover is thin. In spring and summer, visitors fish the Royal River for brook trout and brown trout. In season, hunters are on the lands looking for turkey and deer. There is no camping allowed on this property, and as with all public lands, there is a carry-in, carry-out policy.
NOTE: There has been some confusion caused by a nearby snowshoe trail located off the public lands in the vicinity of the northwestern portion of the Northern Loop Trail. Public lands hiking trails on the Pineland Public Lands property are blue blazed, whereas the snowshoe trail on the far side of a small brook are marked with green wooden diamonds. Additionally, there is a small open area along the Depot Road to the west of the designated trailhead. This is not the trailhead; the trailhead for the Northern Loop is marked by a blue roadside yard-arm (hanging sign) and there is also a trailhead bulletin board on site.
Visit Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands online for more information or contact:
From the town center in Gray at the junction of ME-4, ME-100, ME-202, ME-115, and ME-26, right off the I-95/Maine Turnpike Exit 63, follow ME-115 east for about 1.5 miles. Turn left on Depot Road and follow it for about 2.5 miles to a Public Reserve Lands sign at the trailhead on the left.
Coming from New Gloucester or North Yarmouth, take Depot Road 0.5 miles west from its intersection with ME Route 231 to the parking and trailhead on the right.
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