Difficulty: Easy. The trails in the network total 2.5 miles and are surfaced with grass, gravel and a forest floor that is fairly smooth. Expect a few exposed tree roots and gradual hills in the woods, and exercise extra caution on the Brook Trail, which runs along the side of a steep hill. The trails will be muddy in spots in the springtime, so wearing waterproof boots during that time would be a good idea.
How to get there: From Route 1 in Scarborough, turn onto Broadturn Road and drive 4.1 miles and the gravel parking area for Fuller Farm will be on your right, marked with a kiosk and a large green sign.
Information: Formerly the site of a homestead, the 220-acre Fuller Farm in Scarborough is now a preserve featuring nearly 3 miles of intersecting trails that travel around fields and through a lovely old forest to a small waterfall and the sandy banks of Nonesuch River.
The property was acquired by Scarborough Land Trust in 2001 with the support of the Town of Scarborough, Land for Maine’s Future Fund, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and The Trust for Public Land.
“The property has out longest trail system,” said Kathy Mills, executive director of the Scarborough Land Trust in a recent phone interview about Fuller Farm. “We’re in the middle of improving bog bridges on the trails. We’ve improved about half of them so far. We’ve got a great group of volunteers who are working really hard on that.”
At the parking area for Fuller Farm on Broadturn Road is a kiosk displaying a map of the trail network. A printable version of the map is also available on the Scarborough Land Trust website, scarboroughlandtrust.org.
Visitors can enter the trail network on the Hayfield Trail or the Bird Trail, both of which travel across a large field that is mowed regularly to create habitat for ground-nesting birds, including American woodcocks and bobolinks, and a wide variety of trees and bushes on the property attracting an even greater variety of birds. Standing out among the many songbirds seen on the preserve in the summer are bright yellow goldfinches and indigo buntings.
The land trust asks that visitors take extra care to stay on trail from April through August, when ground-nesting birds are raising their young.
A beautiful wooden bench recently donated by Royce O’Donal, owner of O’Donal’s Nursery in Gorham, sits atop a hill in the fields and makes for a great place to rest and watch birds.
Other trails at Fuller Farm include the Brook Trail, Waterfall Trail, Main Trail, Overlook Trial and a short side trail leading to a bridge over Nonesuch River, the largest source of freshwater for the Scarborough Marsh, which at 3,100 acres is the largest saltwater marsh in Maine. The marsh is owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and people can learn more about it through the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, located on Pine Point Road in Scarborough. Visitors can explore the marsh by canoe (available for rent through the Audubon) or by foot via trails.
Back at Fuller Farm, the trail network travels through a forest filled with old hemlock trees and giant white pines, as well as a variety of mushrooms, lichens and mosses. Running through the woods is a tranquil brook that forms a small staircase waterfall where the Waterfall Trail crosses over the brook on a scenic wooden footbridge.
Hunting is permitted on the property with permission. Motorized vehicles, camping and fires are prohibited.
If you’re looking to extend your time outdoors after walking the trails at Fuller Farm, consider checking another one of Scarborough Land Trust’s properties. Just about 0.5 mile away on Broadturn Road (heading northwest, away from Route 1) is Broadturn Farm, a 434-acre property owned by Scarborough Land Trust and leased to farmers who grow organic produce and flowers. At Broadturn Farm is the 0.6-mile Silver Brook Trail.
Also nearby is Sewell Woods and Frith Farm, adjacent Scarborough Land Trust properties on Ash Swamp Road that are home to about a mile of trails.
The Scarborough Land Trust is a nonprofit organization with the mission “to conserve land where natural resources, scenic vistas and historical significance offer unique value” to the community. Founded in 1977 as the Owascoag Land Conservation Trust (“owascoag” being the a Native American term meaning “the land of many grasses”), the organization was later renamed Scarborough Land Trust, which today consists of a small staff, an active board of directors and many volunteers. To date, the organization has worked with several partners to protect more than 1,400 acres in Scarborough.
Personal note: The weather wasn’t cooperating on April 2, but I wasn’t surprised. Spring in Maine is unpredictable and often tests a person’s sanity by flip-flopping between warm sunny hours, freezing rain and snowstorms. I’d been keeping a close eye on weather reports leading up to my trip to southern Maine, but it kept changing. Finally, I decided that I’d visit Fuller Farm on Saturday morning, which was going to be sunny, the weather report said.
It rained nonstop.
My husband, Derek, and our dog, Oreo, had driven over two hours from our home in the Bangor area to explore the trail network with me (and visit some friends in Portland), and upon reaching the trailhead parking area, I apologized to them for the crumby weather. But they were good sports. Oreo seemed to enjoy squishing through the mud and seeking out puddles, and by the end of the hike, Derek pointed out that a rainy day meant we had the trail network to ourselves. On a sunny Saturday, it might have been crowded.
I don’t know if a hike could have felt more springlike, with the mud and the rain and budding trees. In the forest, the evergreen canopy high overhead shielded us partially from the rain as we walked along the Brook Trail. There we came across a mossy hemlock stump covered with large, bright red reishi mushrooms, which are known for their medicinal properties.
As we walked the property to the waterfall, then banks of Nonesuch River and over the long lengths of bog bridges of the Birding Trail, my spirits lifted as I realized that the rain wasn’t ruining the outing at all. In fact, it seemed to make the colors of the forest that much more vivid during an admittedly drab time of year. I’d even spotted a few plants sprouting from the forest floor.
While the walk was enjoyable, I’d be remiss to not mention that I believe my dog, Oreo, picked up two ticks while at the preserve. We found and removed the ticks about 20 hours after our visit, an experience that made my skin crawl and reminded me of the importance of checking myself and my dog multiple times after any outdoor adventure.
More photos from the hike: