Runaround Pond Recreation Area (GPS: 315 Runaround Pond Road Durham, Maine) in Durham includes more than 350 acres of conserved land. It is comprised of RRCT’s Chesley Meadows Preserve, Runaround Pond Recreation Area, owned by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and managed by the municipality, and Old Crow Ranch – a vibrant working farm with agricultural rights backed by the Land for Maine’s Future Program with annual RRCT oversight and frequent partnership opportunities. There are great trails, historic observation, hunting and fishing access (and skating soon!) and paddling opportunities abound at Runaround Pond. Learn more about paddling Runaround Pond or Chandler Brook HERE.
The 0.8 mile trail network at the eastern end of Runaround Pond highlights a unique ravine and old quarry at the pond’s outlet. The small and large loop trails allow exploration of the shoreline of the pond and the shoreline of Chandler Brook. The trails pass near historic cellar holes, the retaining walls of the old mill, the historic granite dam, and quarries. The larger loop is 0.6 miles in length.
Runaround Pond Landscape – Downloadable PDF
Runarond Pond Recreation Area at Maine Trail Finder
To get to the parking area at Runaround Pond Recreation Area from I-295, take Exit 22 in Freeport/Durham. Turn right onto ME-136 North and drive 6.2 miles. Turn left onto Rabbit Road and continue onto Runaround Pond Road for 1.1 miles. Look for the entrance to the parking area and boat launch on the right. The trails leave from both ends of the recreation area’s parking lot.
This 153 acre preserve was created in late 2015 and expanded in March 2017. The preserve includes more than a half mile of Runaround Pond shoreline along with a stream, open marsh, beaver lodges, and forested riparian zones. The trust prioritized the property due to the wild shoreline, mapped deer yards, and significant wading bird and waterfowl habitat. The preserve hosts a snowmobile trail and is popular for its pond frontage, its hunting, neighborhood equestrian use and snowshoeing. There are no developed or marked trails. Parking is available at the town recreation area, and also parking is available for two cars at a small turnout at the intersection of Davis Road & Chesley Hill Road; look for the blue Chesley Meadows Preserve sign at the intersection. A November 2015 article in the Tri-Town Weekly describes the first acquisitions. An April 2017 article in The Times Record describes the most recent acquisition. Funding sources included private donors and the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership.
This popular spot includes 133 acres managed by the Town of Durham for paddling, fishing, skating, and many other adventures. The recreation area also protects and provides limited access (downstream) to the uppermost reaches of Chandler Brook (Middle Branch of the Royal River), stocked for trout. The recreation area has a toilet, picnic tables, hand-carry launch, and more. New signs, bridges, kiosks, and other minor capital improvements in 2017 are funded by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Royal River Conservation Trust along with the Town of Durham. This document describes all recent work at the recreation area, and proposed next steps.
New trail work includes a safe leisurely route from the parking lot to the dam, crossing the Runaround Pond Road near the Davis Road intersection. Follow the blue diamond blazes NORTH from the parking lot. In 2018 the Town installed road signage, a painted crosswalk, and a roadside culvert to enhance the loop trail where it crosses Runaround Pond Road.
Runaround Pond has a rich history, including as a location for several works of the author Stephen King, who spent most of his childhood living on Runaround Pond Road. This ten-page document describes the historic, community, and literary context of Runaround Pond and its conservation lands.
RRCT created these four one-page interpretive 8.5.x11 easily printed sheets to describe the history, natural history, fisheries, and Stephen King context of Runaround Pond. Print them out and bring them with you, or take them to school.
When RRCT opened new trails at the town’s Recreation Area in 2017, birding opportunities without boats increased considerably, while paddling is still the exceptional birding experience here. RRCT’s adjacent Chesley Meadows Preserve provides rich birding opportunities.
For more information on birding watching visit: The Best Birding in the Royal River watershed.
The Old Crow Ranch is a private farm that produces hogs, chickens, and cattle. It is protected by a 68 acre agricultural conservation easement held by the Royal River Conservation Trust, with funding from the Land for Maine’s Future program.
This dog-friendly year-round campground with yurts on Runaround Pond encourages visitors to explore the nearby conservation land at Runaround and Bradbury Mountain.
Durham is on the southern edge of Androscoggin County. According to recent state recreation plans, Androscoggin County has the lowest percentage of conserved land of any county in Maine (3.60%), as compared to 18.9% statewide and 6.5% in Cumberland County. According to 2016 USFWS data, only 0.83% of Durham’s land is conserved, even while Durham’s population is growing steadily. Eight percent of Maine’s population is in Androscoggin County, but the county benefits from less than one fifth of one percent of Maine’s conservation land. Durham is thus dramatically underserved by conservation land, compared to most Maine towns. Recent RRCT acquisitions have slightly improved that 2016 statistic, but more work is necessary; RRCT works to guarantee that the youth of Durham and Androscoggin County have more opportunities to hunt, fish, paddle, hike, skate, and explore.
Recent mapping by The Nature Conservancy has identified Runaround Pond as one of the highest priority areas for planning for habitat “resiliency” in the face of climate change, and as part of a priority focus area for riparian (stream and pond) corridors for habitat.