Before our visit here last week, it had been over two years since we'd walked the trails at Gilsland Farm. That's because we got a dog and dogs are not allowed at most wildlife sanctuaries, including this one. For a solid year when Romy was a puppy, we walked/hiked her for hours a day and looked only for dog friendly trails. Now she's two and our "mountain dog" has become a full grown "couch potato". Now it's hard to motivate the ol' gal to do a short loop through Baxter Woods, which is directly behind our house. I quite literally have to bribe her with a trail of cheese crumbs to get her to leave the front porch most days. Gone are the days of hiking 4,000 footers with this 110 pound chunk of furry love.
We may have lost our hiking dog, but we can now add wildlife sanctuaries back into the rotation. There are two sides to every coin.
This 65 acres of Audubon is situation along the Presumpscot River Estuary, just 5 miles from Portland. It includes more than two miles of trails that wind along a pond, meadow, salt marsh, fields and orchards. Their education center frequently hosts events for the public, so check out their website if you plan to visit. This is a year round resource for communities, families, teachers, and children. They also offer summer camps.
Photo credit: Henry McMahon
The Maine Audubon works to conserve Maine's wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people in education, conservation, and action. To learn more about their educational programs, find them at www.maineaudubon.org. The large parking lot for this sanctuary is located off of Route 1 in Falmouth at 20 Gilsland Farm Road.
The wildlife is alive and well here. Seeing the bees, birds and wildflowers really gives a sense of hope. Here are some pictures that Henry took during our walk.
We did just a short loop here, but did hide a Seek'em for you. To find it, park in the large lot closest to the educational center. From here, find the trailhead and head straight. You may run into some wild turkeys like we did. In this picture, they look small. In real life, they were enormous..and volunteered to guide us along the trail for a while.
My directions are a bit fuzzy here, but I believe we kept going straight down the hill, following signs for the West Meadow Trail. At the bottom of this hill, you will have views of the marsh. Here is where we hid the Seek'em, tucked into a tree facing the water.
From this path, head right up the field towards the meadow. This will lead all the way to the top of a hill where you will see a small fence. To the left of the fence is a trail leading down to the water.
Continue on this loop if you want a longer walk through more fields, or return the way you came, like we did. The Visitor Center and Nature Store are open weekdays, 10 am to 6 pm, weekends 10 am to 4 pm, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This could be a fun way to end your visit, but we decided to call it and head home. Our hunk of furry love was waiting for us.