Best Nature Walks & Wabanaki Heritage & Historic Interpretation in the Royal River Watershed

The Royal River watershed includes special places for observing, enjoying, and learning about nature and history. Many RRCT members and others have authored their favorite walks and/or favorite nature walk topics, which you can view below. On a separate webpage, we have information on the Best Birding in the Royal River Watershed, covering many of these same locations. You might also be interested in our monthly volunteer-led Get Out! Nature Walk series.

Littlejohn Island Preserve: A Place of Peace (Wabanaki)

For the Wabanaki, Casco Bay has a history of war, imperial dispossession, and peace making. Our Littlejohn Island Preserve webpage includes an essay on Casco Bay as a place of peace for the Wabanaki confederacy.

Riverfront Woods Preserve: Sipuhsisuwi Kchiq

Yarmouth’s Riverfront Woods Preserve webpage, kiosks, and trail signs are used to amplify the Town of Yarmouth’s acknowledgement of the displacement of Wabanaki peoples, and the resilience of Wabanaki people living today in modern Yarmouth. The webpage includes translations of preserve trail names in Wabanaki dialects, along with both ancient and modern history.

River Elf Trail (planned): Little People of the Dawn

RRCT’s River Elf Trail (planned) in New Gloucester is named in honor of river elves of Wabanaki lore. The linked website includes interpretive content to educate folks on river elves, and our naming decision. When opened, the trail will be a learning opportunity for all, learning of Wabanaki stewardship of land and waters for millennia, and today. RRCT has donated “Little People of the Dawn,” books by local author Minquansis Sapiel, to libraries in Gray, New Gloucester, and Yarmouth to supplement interpretation efforts.

The Intervale Preserve: History, Wabanaki Heritage, Natural Resources and Habitat

The Intervale Preserve in New Gloucester is owned and managed by the Royal River Conservation Trust with a rich history of train stations, farming, and natural resources.

With recent major expansions to the preserve including land surrounding the Blockhouse, this webpage is evolving yearly to integrate more information the French & Indian War (Blockhouse), and more.

Visit the Intervale Preserve page to learn more and download the self-guided interpretation material on natural resources, habitat, and history.

Spear Farm Estuary Preserve: Nature Walk

Spear Farm Estuary Preserve is a 55-acre property with diverse habitats, ranging from stately oaks and pine forest to the open salt marshes of the Royal River Estuary and a small pond with a fringing marsh. Maine Master Naturalist Ronald Dupuis has authored a self guided tour of the preserve as well as a 20-page Spear Farm Winter Walk: Visit Spear Farm to find both

Knight’s Pond and Blueberry Hill: Nature Walk

Knight’s Pond Preserve in Cumberland and North Yarmouth is a 334-acre preserve including ponds, streams, ridgelines, vernal pools, rare shagbark hickory forests, and extensive wildlife habitat. Neighbor and naturalist Karen Herold authored a beautiful document to guide winter nature walks at the preserve. We’ve also posted information on the ecology of Knight’s Pond authored by Maine Natural Areas Program Ecologist Kristen Puryear and Field Assistant Nicole Lutkemuller in 2013.

To learn more and view these documents visit: Knight’s Pond Preserve

Chandler Brook Preserve: Nature Walk

The Chandler Brook Preserve in North Yarmouth was acquired with the financial support of Royal River Conservation Trust members and donors and is now owned and managed by the town of North Yarmouth. RRCT member and Master Naturalist, Karen Massey authored a narrative on nature walks at Chandler Brook in the spring and summer. To learn more visit: Chandler Brook Preserve

Sam Ristich Trail: Nature Walk

The Sam Ristich trails are managed by the town of North Yarmouth, connecting town parks and town forests. There is a great brochure and map as well as a written nature walk that you can print out and bring with you.

Visit: Sam Ristich Trails to learn more.

Ethnobotany: Medicinal Plants & Trees Used by Native American Tribes on RRCT & CCLT Trails

RRCT member Polly Haight Frawley — as part of Maine’s Master Naturalist program, prepared interpretive material on plants located and photographed on trails in the Royal River watershed, with an ethnobotanical focus on Wabanaki medicinal uses.

Click here to download the pdf: Plants and Trees Used for Medicinal Purposes by Tribes of the Wabanaki Confederation,

Old Harris Road Preserve: Outdoor Classroom, Wabanaki History, and Interpretive Trail

RRCT’s Old Harris Road Preserve in Pownal — near Pownal Elementary School — includes an outdoor classroom near Thoits Branch stream. RRCT’s website includes interpretive content, including an easily printed educational interpretive manual. Aimed at school children, the interpretive content includes Wabanaki heritage, fisheries, water quality, ecology, and more.

Click here to go to the Preserve website, which in turn provides links to the interpretive pdf: Old Harris Road Preserve,

Big Falls Preserve: Habitat & Historic Interpretation authored by former landowner Michael Fralich

Reginald Parent’s 1947 Plymouth (since removed). Photo credit Jasmine Parman.

The Big Falls Preserve is on the border of the town of New Gloucester and the city of Auburn. The former landowner wrote up a history and habitat piece that is shared on the Big Falls page. Visit: Big Falls Preserve

Bradbury Mountain State Park: Natural Heritage Walk (nature walk for kids)

Print out an easy to use PDF for a fun, kid friendly nature walk at Bradbury Mountain, posted on RRCT’s Bradbury web page.

North Yarmouth History: Royal River Shoreline

The North Yarmouth Historical Society prepared an interpretive map and narrative of the natural and historic features of the Royal River in North Yarmouth, including old mill sites, old commercial fishing sites, old bridge sites, the old Wescustogo Hotel, and more. We’ve posted this information on RRCT’s Royal River Water Trail page (Wescustogo Park to Old Town House Park segment.)

Royal River Park: Historic Interpretive Walk

Royal River Park has a paved path that runs the length of the park along the river and parallel to the heart of Yarmouth village. There are views of three waterfalls, two at old dam sites, and an historic mill site. Most of the park is built on former industrial mill sites. Yarmouth History Center has put together a mobile walking tour that can help you explore Royal River Park and other historic areas of Yarmouth. Visit: Yarmouth History Center to learn more or simply view the tour online from your desk or walking with your phone.

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village & Shaker Bog

Royal River Conservation Trust and others won awards for successful work on a vast conservation easement covering 1700 acres of working forest, orchards, barns, pastures, shoreline, and habitat surrounding the iconic Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. Today, the village hosts its religious community, library, museum, events, guided nature tours, a working farm, outdoor classrooms, and more. To learn more about nature tours and to see a schedule, visit: Shaker Village Nature’s Outdoor Classroom. To learn more about the museum visit: Shaker Museum

Here’s a short video with aerials of the Village and the Bog.

The Shaker Bog includes exceptional ecology with public access, for self-guided tours. More information on the bog here.

Runaround Pond: Historic Interpretation, Wabanaki Heritage, Fisheries & Stephen King

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. Visit: Runaround Pond for information including an eleven page document that describes the historic, community, and literary context of Runaround Pond and its conservation lands. On the same page you will also find information regarding Stephen King and his relationship to Runaround Pond and the Royal River.

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.