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Gorham area hikes

by Jeffrey Ryan

Henry David Thoreau once said, “I think I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and fields absolutely free from all worldly engagements.”

While I appreciate the sentiment (and practice it whenever I can), there are days when 30 minutes of restorative walking is about all we can squeeze in.

A recent rainy weekday was just such a time. I got up from the keyboard and drove over the (Presumpscot) river and through the woods to arrive at the Cummings Preserve Trail. Located just downstream from the Dundee Dam, the one-mile “lollipop” trail presents a wonderful stroll along the historic Cumberland and Oxford Canal, opened in 1832 to provide a 38-mile navigable passage between Harrison and Portland for shipping barrel staves, firewood and apples among other things.

Before heading down the trail, I recommend the brief side-trip over the footbridge below the Dundee Dam, where a side trail leads upstream to a view of the dam spillway. After returning to the parking area, walk down the dirt road to the portage trail, which is also the start of the one-mile loop. The trail ends at the river’s edge near Dundee Falls, then loops back to the parking lot.

With due respect to Thoreau, that 30 minutes of rainy-day solitude followed by a steaming mug of coffee was just the health- and spirit-preserving gift I needed.       

The Cummings Preserve Trail is 1-mile in length with a trail rating of easy.   The property is managed by Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. For more info visit

Jeffrey Ryan is a Maine-based hiker, photographer, public speaker and author of several books about the outdoors. Learn more at 

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