Saco Heath Preserve
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
A visual work of art that includes a one-mile, multicolored boardwalk for all ages and abilities. Everyone should visit this place.
Located on a 1,233-acre preserve, this unique coalesced bog is managed by the Nature Conservancy. A raised coalesced what, you say? Here's a summarized explanation from a sign along the trail:
A bog forms over thousands of years when vegetation fills in natural ponds. The decomposed soil that remains is called peat. At Saco Heath, these layers of peat accumulated in the center of ponds, eventually rising above the water table to form raised bogs that grew together (a.k.a. "coalesced").
Why is it called the Saco Heath? Heath is an Old English word that has become synonymous with the word 'bog' in Maine. This particular bog is also an example of a wooded shrub heath habitat. The sign says that, "Woody, low-growing heath vegetation such as rhodora, Labrador tea, sheep laurel, and leatherleaf thrive on the acidic soils created by the bog ecosystem".
Pets are not allowed, but it's worth the visit, even if you have to leave your pup at home. Throw them a Kong stuffed with cream cheese and sneak out that front door. They don't have watches and you'll be home in no time.
Located at 163 Buxton Road #173 in Saco, this out and back trip is 2.1 miles total, including a short woods loop at the end of the boardwalk. The trail begins in the forest, then quickly arrives at the start of the endless and beautiful boardwalk.
There are two (maybe three?) sections of benches along the way. To find our Seek'em take a look under the second set of benches. He's lurking around there somewhere.
The colors here this time of year are stunning. Plus, you won't need to worry about all of the mud and water you'll find on most trails in late fall. The boardwalk will keep your feet nice and dry...as long as you stay on it. And the signs recommend that you do. Sticking to the trail will protect the bog's fragile ecosystem.
The Heath is home to deer, moose, snowshoe hare and other wildlife. If I were a moose and I couldn't live in Baxter State Park, this would be my next best choice. After Moosehead Lake, of course...well, and Rangeley. I guess you're just lucky to live in Maine if you're a moose. We're all lucky.
This week's trail challenge is not one to miss! If you can't make it here this week, just add it to your list of "must see" trails. It's great for all ages and abilities. Gorgeous, accessible, life of the party. Just a few descriptives for a trail that truly tops my list.