This trail connects Phippsburg Land Trust’s Sprague Pond Preserve (pets allowed) with The Nature Conservancy’s Basin Preserve (pets prohibited) in Phippsburg. From the Sprague Pond Preserve parking lot on Route 209, the trail winds past a beaver pond and dam on North Creek, and ascends through woods to Sprague Pond. Just beyond the beaver dam, the trail intersects the Sprague Pond Loop Trail. The loop to the right runs along the west side of Sprague Pond, past a seasonal waterfall known as Skull Falls and over a stream before entering The Nature Conservancy’s Basin Preserve. The trail to the left heads west before turning north along Burnt Ledge (also known as Pasture Ridge), one of the largest Pitch Pine Woodlands in Maine. Hikers can follow this blue-blazed trail to the “Green Piece,” an overgrown open field, on the Basin Road and the northern parking area or turn back south to return to Sprague Pond on the eastern side of the loop, for a five mile hike. A fenced area at the northern end of the Green Piece protects a newly planted chestnut seed orchard, which is an effort by The Nature Conservancy and Maine Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation to produce blight resistant seeds of chestnut for future forest restoration projects. The Sprague Pond Trail is maintained by both land trusts; the first part of the trail from the south to Sprague Pond is blazed in white; the balance is blue blazed.
In October 2006, an anonymous donor gave The Nature Conservancy 1,910 acres in Phippsburg, including more than 4 miles of coastline surrounding the Basin, a saltwater inlet on the New Meadows River. In 2012, the Conservancy transferred 64 acres to the town of Phippsburg to be used for town recreational access and school programs. The Basin is the Conservancy’s largest coastal preserve in Maine and one of the Conservancy’s most valuable individual land gifts. The acquisition of The Basin Preserve is a substantial addition to existing protected lands and waters in the Kennebec Estuary. Comprised of Merrymeeting Bay and the Lower Kennebec River, the Kennebec Estuary is the largest tidal estuary on the East Coast north of the Hudson River.
In addition to protecting important estuary habitat of the Basin and shoreline of the New Meadows River, The Basin Preserve features extensive stands of rare Pitch Pine Woodlands. A series of ridges run down the length of the preserve in a northeast/southwest orientation. One of the larger ridges on the peninsula, Pasture Ridge, runs down the middle of the preserve and hosts an exemplary stand of Pitch Pine Woodland, one of the largest in Maine. These beautiful woodlands are influenced by past fires and pitch pine’s ability to persist in harsh growing conditions of acidic, thin soil on exposed granite ridge-tops. Sedge meadows, shrub marshes and black spruce bogs occupy the valleys between the ridges and provide excellent habitat for many plants and animals. One large stand of black gum, a southern tree species at its northern limit in Maine, is found on the preserve.
This trail passes through a property that was acquired in part with funds from the Land for Maine’s Future program. For more information about the LMF program and the places it has helped to protect, please visit the LMF webpage.
The Nature Conservancy Parking (pets prohibited):
Phippsburg Land Trust Parking (pets allowed):
From Phippsburg, take Main Road (ME-209) south; after 2.7 miles you will find the parking lot on the right.
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