Intervale Preserve

The Intervale Preserve in New Gloucester provides some of the Royal River watershed’s most valuable habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl, and game birds.   The Preserve is part of the Intervale’s larger system of floodplain wetlands and marshes covering 1215 acres, surrounding by farms and forests. The preserve is owned and managed by the Royal River Conservation Trust. The preserve currently consists of three parcels along the river, totaling 100 acres of conserved land and 35 acres of additional conservation easements. The first, northernmost parcel at Intervale Road features a half-mile loop trail and a hand-carry boat launch site. The second block of parcels is located south of Route 231 and north of Penney Road along the Royal River. There are no trails or easy access points via land to get to this parcel at this time. The third, southernmost parcel at Penney Road allows river access via a small parking area and hand-carry boat launch.

More Information

Maps and Guides

The flat half-mile loop trail at the 100-acre Intervale Road parcel along the Royal River provides gentle walking with occasional plank bridges to avoid wet areas. The forested trail provides views onto the river’s fresh water flood plain marsh and vernal pools, a popular destination for birders and sports. The marsh is an outstanding vantage point for observing migrating birds especially in May of each year. The trail includes one bench for resting and a picnic table.

Overview Map of all three preserved areas along the Intervale – Downloadable PDF
Map of Hiking Trails and Boat Access at Intervale Road – Downloadable PDF
Map of Boat Access at Penney Road – Downloadable PDF
Intervale Preserve at Maine Trail Finder

Trails, Trailheads and Access

To find the trail at the Intervale Road parcel:
– From the South: From Pineland Farms, follow Route 231 North/Intervale Road for 4.4 miles. The parking lot and trailhead will be on your right, 1/4 mile past the intersection with Woodman Road.
– From the North/West: From Cobbs Bridge Road or New Gloucester Village, take Route 231 South/Intervale Road for 1 mile. The trailhead will be on your left. Ample parking is available on the wide grassy shoulder of the road. The hiking trail begins at kiosk with blue signage on the side of the road near the railroad tracks.
– Address for GPS : 642 Intervale Road, New Gloucester

To find the Intervale Preserve at Penney Road:
– From New Gloucester Village: Head Southeast on Route 231 South for 3.9 miles. Take a right onto Penney Road and continue 0.8 mile. The parking area will be on your right.
– From North Yarmouth Village: Head North on Route 231 N for 5.6 miles. Take a left onto Penney Road and continue 0.8 mile. The parking area will be on your right.
– Address for GPS: 520 Penney Rd, New Gloucester, ME 04260

Rules and Regulations and Hunting
  • The Preserve is open for daytime use only, for hiking, hunting and snowmobiling.
  • Dogs are welcome on leash or voice control with strict attention to pet waste removal.
  • Hunting is encouraged on all of the Intervale parcels, though access to some parcels is only possible by canoe.
  • Public use of the abutting active railroad properties is prohibited by Maine law, to protect public safety.
  • Safe and responsible hunting and trapping on the Preserve is encouraged.
  • Hikers should always wear orange during hunting season, on all hikes.
  • Both the Intervale Rd and Penney Rd parcels support snowmobile connecting trails. CMP powerline construction rights will be used on this trail corridor in 2019,disrupting traffic at Penney Road.
  • Smoking is prohibited at all RRCT Preserves.

Royal Treasures Map for Kids

The Royal Treasures activity allows kids of all ages to find unique pieces of sculpture installed in special places within the preserve. Each sculpture helps interpret the ecology, history, and natural dynamics of the preserve.

Learn more, find instructions, read artists statements, and print a treasure map – Downloadable PDF

Royal River Water Trail

The two boat access points create a short trip on their own. The stretch of the Royal River from the Intervale Preserve at Penney Road downstream to Wescustogo Park is a wonderful 8.1 mile high-water paddling trip. Public hand-carry boat access can be found on both ends – at RRCT’s Intervale Preserve Penney Road property and at Wescustogo Park.  Landowner courtesies or steep scrambles are required for earlier take-out.  More information on the Royal River Water Trail.

Bird Watching

The bird-rich area of New Gloucester’s Intervale is renowned for Sandhill Cranes, migrant shorebirds, and more. For more information on birding in the Intervale visit: Best Birding in the Royal River watershed.

Water Access
  • The Intervale Preserve provides boat access at two locations, at 642 Intervale Road, and also at Penney Road’s Royal River crossing on the upriver northeast corner of the bridge. CMP powerline construction access rights will restrict parking and river access at Penney Road in 2019. These access points allow for bank fishing and boat launching for paddling, fishing, and hunting by boat.
  • This section of the river may be only be suitable for informed boaters due to variable water levels and occasional trees or beaver dams blocking passage. When paddling, please respect private landowner signage along the river regarding fiddlehead harvest and hunting.

Conservation History and Stewardship

Habitat
Combined, the land under RRCT’s Intervale conservation ownership and easements protect 2 shoreline miles of the mainstem of the Royal River. Nearby conservation efforts of state agencies means that a total of 250 acres of the Intervale and 3 shore miles of the Royal River are now protected. The Intervale is largely comprised of lush meandering oxbows. It provides some of the Royal River watershed’s most valuable habitat, supporting migratory birds, waterfowl, and game birds.  In total, the Intervale comprises roughly 1215 acres of NWI wetlands (bird habitat), surrounded by scenic and productive farms and forests.

History

Owned by the Royal River Conservation Trust, the initial parcel of the Preserve was donated for conservation by Jan Erikson and Nan Butterfield in 1991. Initial trail work and kiosk installation funded by L.L. Bean and others was completed in 2011. Sculptures were installed in October, 2013.

In late 2017, the Preserve was significantly expanded by three separate transactions, expanding the entire preserve from 30 acres to 100 non-contiguous acres, and expanding conserved shoreline miles of the Royal River mainstem from 0.3 shoreline miles to two shoreline miles. The newly conserved land supports habitat and water quality, fishing access, birding access, a new paddling access point at Penney Road, a local snowmobile trail connection, access for fiddleheads, bird-hunting, trapping, and other sports.

The various transactions in late 2017 were funded by private funders, landowner donations, the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund and RRCT’s Land Acquisition Reserve Fund.  The transactions involved acquisition, donation of land, and partnerships with the Town of New Gloucester selectmen and Central Maine Power.

In 2018 the Preserve was expanded again by a donation of a few acres from Field Rider.

Nearby farmland conservation projects in 2017 and 2018 (Waterhouse and Brookings) also provide important conservation landscape context.

Today (late 2018) we are working with three landowners for additional expansions of conservation protections in the Intervale.

Interpretation: Natural Resources, Habitat and Historic Interpretation

Self Guided Historical and Natural Resource Interpretation – Downloadable PDF