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This week’s edition!

Gorham area hikes

by Jeffrey Ryan

There’s nothing like that first day when spring isn’t just in the air, it’s drawn us out into our yards, neighborhoods and woodland trails to feel the warmth of the sun and grab a few hours of shortsleeve only freedom. It won’t be long before the parkas and heavy sweaters get stowed away for a few months. 

Last Thursday, was the day for many of us. I took a drive out to Shaw Park to enjoy a walk on the historic trail and discovered that I wasn’t alone. But even in these days of social distancing, it wasn’t a problem. People were well spaced over the trail system and did a good job of staying that way.

Leaving the parking lot, I turned right and followed the paved path down to the Hamblen Pedestrian Bridge before turning back into the woods to join the Gambo Loop. At the halfway point of this woodland trail, you emerge near the Presumpscot Riverbank to obtain a fine view of the current mill. 

Just upstream at Gambo Falls was another sawmill that as far back as 1824 began making gunpowder. Sulfur from Sicily and saltpeter from India arrived by barge from Portland harbor and were mixed with charcoal created in nearby forests to create 25 lb. kegs of powder. During the Civil War, two-thirds of the gunpowder produced for Union troops was made in this single factory!

Turning inland, the trail follows another historic landmark, the Cumberland-Oxford Canal Towpath, to reconnect with the paved trail.  

If you’re interested in a longer walk, you can make a big loop by taking the Mountain Division Trail back to the parking lot. has a great map.

One note—The black flies and ticks are nearly as excited about spring as we are. Be sure to dress accordingly and bring bug repellent.

Gambo Preserve Loop is 1.75 miles, with a trail rating of easy. The property is managed by Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. For more information 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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