Difficulty: Easy-moderate. The 6-mile trail network travels through a variety of habitats and along the shore of Jamies Pond. Expect to encounter small hills, footbridges, roots and rocks, as well as smooth sections of trail over soft pine needles.
How to get there: From the intersection of Central Street and Water Street in downtown Hallowell, drive approximately 1.7 miles west on Central Street and turn left onto Shady Lane. Drive 0.4 mile, then turn right onto Outlet Road. Drive 0.9 mile and veer right onto Jamie’s Pond Road, which is gravel.
Jamies Pond Road is gated partway down in the wintertime and spring until the road dries up. Before the gate is a winter parking area at Forest Trailhead. In the summer, you can continue past the gate to the end of Jamies Pond Road, where there is a larger parking area at the boat ramp. This parking area provides access to Lower Pond Trail and Forest Trail.
(To find the Lower Pond Trail, walk back up the road a short distance and the trail will be on your left, marked with a sign that reads “Trail,” posted high on a tree. To find Forest Trail, walk to the right of the white pump house and into the woods. The trail makes a sharp left and travels away from the pond.)
Also, in the town of Manchester, there’s trail access from both Collins Road (Collins Road Access Trail) and Meadow Hill Road (Tote Road Trail).
Information: Jamies Pond Wildlife Management Area is an 869-acre parcel of state-owned land in the towns of Manchester, Farmingdale and Hallowell. Managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the property is home to about 6 miles of hiking trails, as well as a public boat launch.
In addition to hiking, permitted activities are dog walking, swimming, boating and canoeing, fur trapping, hunting (big game, small game, upland game and waterfowl), fishing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and wildlife watching, according to the DIF&W. Overnight camping and open fires are not permitted. And keep in mind, there are no outhouses on the property.
Jamies Pond — also known as Jimmie Pond — is a 107-acre pond that was formerly the water supply for Hallowell. You’ll notice at the trailhead parking lot a small, white-painted, brick building — the old pump house. Painted on its front is “HWD 1931” — Hallowell Water District.
The major inlet to the pond is Meadow Brook, which is cool enough to sustain brook trout, according to the DIF&W. And the lower portion of the stream is a spawning habitat for rainbow smelt.
“A primary management objective here is to provide a high quality fishing experience for salmonids. However there are both warm water and cold-water species here, including brook trout, splake, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. Annual stockings of brook trout and splake maintain the pond’s coldwater sport fishery,” according to an article featured in the DIF&W Maine Fish and Wildlife magazine in 2009.
The area provides habitat for many species of waterfowl and wading birds, aquatic furbearers (such as beaver) and other wildlife species.
The hiking trails on the property were designed and constructed by the Hallowell Conservation Commission, in coordination with DIF&W and with assistance from Americorps volunteers. A ramp designed to be wheelchair accessible was installed at the boat launch in 1994.
From the parking area at boat launch, the Lower Pond Trail plunges into the forest and travels along the edge of the pond, with a buffer of trees between the trail and the water. The trail is well-traveled and marked with blue blazes. It soon leads to a kiosk that displays a trail map and information about local wildlife, and just beyond that is a wide footbridge and two wooden benches.
Lower Pond Trail leads to a number of other trails in the network. At each trail juncture, a laminated trail map is posted with a red star marking where you are in the network.
To learn about Jamies Pond, call the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife at 287-8000.
Personal note: When Derek and I, with our dog Oreo, arrived at the Jamies Pond boat launch on June 8, the first thing I noticed were a number of vibrant yellow-and-black swallowtail butterflies fluttering around the parking area. Then, down by the pond, it was a dragonfly party. They zipped back and forth over the pond’s smooth surface, snatching up mosquitoes and black flies. God bless them.
Our route for the day wasn’t predetermined, it was more a question of how many mosquito bites we could tolerate before the fun time turned sour (and rather itchy). Therefore, we didn’t hike all 6 miles of trails, but be did complete a fairly large loop.
We hiked all the way down Lower Pond Trail to a spot where you can access the pond. Then we backtracked and turned onto Hemlock Trail, which led us to Vernal Pool Trail. As we walked past the vernal pool, I did my best to explain the important habitat to Derek.
“It’s sort of a pond, but it dries up for part of the year, so fish can’t live in it. It’s an important home for some frogs, turtles, salamanders and these things called fairy shrimp. I don’t know much about fairy shrimp, though.”
We then turned onto the Middle Pond Trail, where we observed a chipmunk and walked past an old structure built of large blocks of stone on Meadow Brook. I’m not sure what it originally was. The Middle Pond Trail led back to the bridge near the beginning of the Lower Pond Trail, where we took a side trail to the pond, took off our shoes and waded in.
A loon surfaced not far from where we were wading, but with Oreo thrashing about, biting the waves, the bird didn’t stay for long. I rushed back to shore to grab my camera, and by the time I returned, it was gone. I waited and waited, scanning the surface of the lake, but I never saw the loon resurface. A speedy swimmer, it must have booked it to the other side of the lake.
Loons have a number of features that make them especially agile swimmers, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Unlike most birds, they have solid bones that make them less buoyant and better at diving. And once below the surface, a loon’s heart slows down to conserve oxygen.
As the loon disappeared, Oreo swam for the first time! For a dog that was originally scared of water, that’s a big step. I remember when he hated the kiddy pool I bought him last summer. Then, over time, he tested the waters, so to speak, and learned to wade. It was just a short swim in Jamies Pond — a circle around Derek — but I was a proud, nonetheless.