This post is less of a detailed trail write-up and more of an ode to my mom. Here's why:
It was my mom's idea to visit this conservation area because, like me, she has also become hooked on exploring local trails. This makes perfect sense since she loves traveling, new experiences and adventure of any kind. We lovingly refer to my mom as the "Honey Badger" because she's fearless and seemingly invincible.
With all the talking, my mom and I got lost on these trails (shocker), so I have no clear idea where we actually went during our time here. So, I will not be offering detailed directions. You're better off visiting All Trails or the Falmouth Land Trust for those.
But first things first, let's talk about the name: SUCKFISH. In terms of these trails, the Suckfish is another word for white suckers that spawn in this brook.
In terms of the Urban Dictionary, a Suckfish is "Someone who is rude, obnoxious, or generally disgusting in every way." Maybe you know a Suckfish or two, or maybe you've made the wise decision to avoid Suckfish at all costs. As a woman in her mid-forties, I have kindly released all Suckfish from my one, precious life. Who has the energy or the patience?
One thing we can probably all agree on - it's not a word that lends itself to the scenic trails and peaceful views to be found at this conservation area. I'll forgive whoever named this trail and move on, but it had to be addressed.
Suckfish Brook Conservation Area includes 94 acres of wetlands, Falmouth’s only northern peat bog, frontage on Suckfish Brook, a mile of woodland trails and 40 acres of upland hardwood forest. There is an additional 38 acres on the southern end that includes an elevated walkway into the bog, conserved by the City of Westbrook.
There are three separate trailheads and hiking areas for this property:
Suckfish I: 4 Upland Way, Falmouth.
This is the northern portion of the property, which we I explored with my mom. It includes a pleasant 2.2 mile loop here, which can be found on All Trails. Once you turn onto Upland Way, the trailhead and kiosk are less than 1/10th of a mile down the dirt road with parking spots for 3 cars. These trails include a beaver pond, tree farm and views of the mountains.
Suckfish II: 15 McDermott Way, Falmouth
This area includes shoreline frontage on Highland Lake and Suckfish Brook. It contains a mix of upland forest and wetland habitat.
Suckfish Bonus Trail: 184 Mast Rd, Falmouth
This is the southern part of Suckfish I. It includes a 1/4 mile walk to an elevated walkway into the bog.
Bonus tip: If you drive .3 miles north of this trailhead on Mast Rd, then take a left onto Lowell Farm Rd, you will arrive at the Highland Lake Public Boat Launch. This is a great place to take a canoe or kayak in the warmer months. We came here often during Henry's fishing stage. It's also a great place for a summer dip.
Dogs are allowed on these trails, but must be on-leash from April 1st through September 30th. Hunting is also allowed, so if you come after October 15th, make sure to wear your blaze orange. Recreation includes hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, mountain biking. These trails are not wheelchair accessible.
We did hide a Seek'em here. From the 4 Upland Way trailhead, head counter-clockwise on the loop and you will soon arrive at a short spur on the right, leading to a view of the pond. You'll see a viewing bench and large boulder to the left of that. The Seek'em is tucked inside the boulder.
Continue past the beaver pond into the woods, which will eventually lead to Skillin's tree farm and views of the mountains from the top of the hill.
There are maps at several of the intersecting trails, but we used the All Trails GPS when we got off track. Meandering through these trails, lost or not, is a pleasant experience, so we just enjoyed the journey.
Growing up, my mom was always active, but mostly I remember her doing Jane Fonda videos to the Doobie Brother's in her spandex leotard. As an older adult, she has moved away from impact aerobics and matured into long walks. After joining me on some of my earlier trail explorations, my mom started venturing into the woods on her own. This past year she visited almost all of the islands in Casco Bay, walking whatever roads or trails they had...through the winter. She'd sometimes send a selfie or call from the ferry ride over, but I never knew where she'd go next.
This past summer, she created her own hiking group, leading a Friday morning, local hike for members of her church. She continues to do this and plans to keep it going, year round. At 75, she enjoys the fun and challenge of navigating new trails each week. This winter, she'll be heading down to Panama to surf with her brother. I guess adventure is in the genes.
Years ago, we gave my mom the nickname "Honey Badger" after watching a hilarious video about these bad-ass mammals, who are unfazed by anyone or anything...I'm talking cobra snakes and hornets nests. It may sound funny, but this name is a term of endearment for a mom who's modeled courage and perseverance through challenging times. She's also taught me to stay positive and always see the best in others. Tim sometimes calls me "Baby Badger", a name I wear proudly. She's a wonder, my mom, and I hope to be just as active and adventurous as she is when I'm her age.