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Guest Column: Gorham area hikes

by Jeffrey Ryan

Spring may have taken a while to arrive this year, but it finally seems like we’ve achieved that “several sunny days in a row” pattern capable of shaking us out of our doldrums. Even the temperatures seem to be rising to the occasion. 

I scooted over to the Black Brook Preserve recently to check in on spring’s arrival in the woods and fields off of Windham Center Road. The 105-acre parcel has a nice trail system offering a variety of hikes surrounding the property’s namesake Black Brook. Where there’s water, there’s wildlife. And on this warm spring day I was serenaded by red winged blackbirds and white throated sparrows while a pileated woodpecker chipped in on percussion. The mixture of woodland and open fields is said to attract deer, coyote, porcupines, wild turkeys and partridge as well, although my timing wasn’t quite right to witness the complete menagerie.

I chose to hike counterclockwise on the outer loop, a 1.7-mile easy stroll skirting the edge of the property. Going counterclockwise meant starting in the woods and ending in the fields. The woods walk was really pleasant and surprisingly mud-free, given two preceding days of rain—a testament to the trail layout and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust’s installation of over 600 feet of “bog bridges” over particularly wet areas. 

At the halfway point in my hike, I stopped to take in the headwaters of Black Brook. From this point, the brook flows six miles through Windham before joining the Presumpscot River. Staying on the Outer Loop, the trail climbs gently out of the woods to emerge into open fields. From here, you can follow a marked snowmobile trail back to the trailhead or backtrack through the woods using the Outer Loop or a combination of other trails to return to your vehicle. The snowmobile trail was pretty boggy on this day. If I had a “do over”, I would have gone back through the woods.

The trailhead, with room for a handful of cars, is located at 274 Windham Center Road. I would certainly recommend this hike for folks of all ages and look forward to visiting again when the full complement of wildlife is out and about themselves.

Note: It is always a good idea to check for ticks at the end of your hike (or after any time spent outdoors, including doing yardwork). I suggest checking your clothing, footwear, headwear and any exposed skin before you get back in your vehicle or go indoors.

Black Brook Preserve ranges from 0.3 to 1.7 miles, with a trail rating of Easy to Moderate. The property is managed by Presumpscot Regional Land Trust. For more info, visit www.PRLT.org

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

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