Fern Hollow Preserve

Fern Hollow Preserve is owned and managed by the Royal River Conservation Trust, located at the end of Cluff Road on a small tributary to Chandler Brook in North Yarmouth. The property abuts the state-owned Saint Lawrence & Atlantic (Grand Trunk) rail line, with a historic culvert and overpass. The 34-acre preserve includes a notable expansion in 2021. The parcel is under development, with no signs nor designated parking in place yet (September 2022). Parking is allowed on the road shoulders of Cluff Road, a town road. The property will be managed for wildlife and access primarily for neighbors, foraging and hunting.

More Information

Maps

We are not yet promoting the location of the preserve, due to pending signs and designated parking (2022). Legal parking today exists on the road shoulders of Cluff Road. At the end of pavement of Cluff Road, a trail heads to the right through a patch of knotweed. The trail ends after about 1000 feet. During the summer of 2022 we are working on knotweed removal, removal of an old shed, and more work to slowly open the preserve. The preserve is open of hunting and other adventures, despite lack of development.

Trails, Trailheads, and Accessibility

We are currently working on signage and designated parking. See the “Maps” section above. We plan no significant trails (access trails only). The preserve will always be accessible only for those prepared for a rugged off-trail experience, and those committed to leave-no-trace principles. Crossing the stream requires a scramble on the steep railroad bankings, wading, or use of fallen trees. The stream is too wide to jump.

Rules, Regulations, and Hunting

  • The preserve is open for hunting, fishing, foraging, hiking, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing off-trail. Off-trail travel requires exceptional attention to minimizing human impact.
  • Visitors are prohibited from having fires.
  • Camping is allowed though there are no designated sites. Please contact us with your plans since overnight parking will attract attention.
  • Dogs are welcome, but on leash or voice control. Dogs must be on leash near parking, residences, or on paved roads.
  • Please respect various postings on private abutting land.
  • Safe and responsible hunting on the preserve is encouraged. We promote safe hunting experiences and protect deer by educating users of the hiking trail and their dogs to be respectful of hunters and deer during season, including winter deer yard season. Please call RRCT to inform us if you plan any trapping on the parcel. Hikers should always wear orange during all hunting seasons, on all hikes.
  • Smoking is prohibited at all RRCT preserves.

RRCT & You: Updates, Alerts, and Cautions

RRCT & You: RRCT relies heavily on volunteers and help from trail users like you. You may know more recent information about trail and preserve conditions than we do. We invite you to be a thoughtful steward by acting as a respectful visitor, adhering to posted rules, and following Leave No Trace practices. RRCT’s small staff and volunteer Trail Crew is able to inspect and maintain RRCT preserves infrequently; we ask you to report to us any issues you observe that you cannot address yourself, and especially to update us on any safety or public safety issues. Please help us on your visits with litter, pet waste, and minor trail issues. We also invite any information on needed or suggested updates to this webpage. Reach out in any way, most simply with an email to info@RRCT.org.

It is always illegal to trespass on railroad tracks.

The oak planks at the bottom of the stream under the granite railroad culvert are rotten and stop midway. DO NOT WALK THROUGH THE CULVERT.

Please respect postings of neighbors, including any postings restricting parking on private roads.

This preserve is not yet developed with neither signage nor designated parking.

The preserve will always be accessible only for those prepared for a rugged off-trail experience, and those committed to Leave-No-Trace principles. Crossing the stream requires a scramble on the steep railroad bankings, wading, or use of fallen trees. The stream is too wide to jump.

Conservation History and Ownership

The initial acreage of the preserve was acquired by RRCT in 2005, as an open space requirement of the Packard Farm subdivision. RRCT expanded acreage in 2021, acquiring land from Donny Cluff. There are active proposals to convert the adjacent rail line to become Trail-Until-Rail known as the Royal River Greenbelt.

Natural Resources, Habitat, and Historic Interpretation

Gazette Profile: My Good Neighbor, Donny Cluff, by Rob Wood

The Gazette profile on Donny Cluff describes the Cluff family history on this rail line.

Historic topographic maps of the neighborhood.

Historic aerial photos of the neighborhood.

The un-named tributary running through the preserve joins Chandler Brook (the Middle Branch of the Royal River) nearby. The tributary would be connected to Casco Bay supporting sea-run fisheries, except for the lack of fish passage at Yarmouth’s two obsolete dams on the Royal. Learn more about fish passage and dam removal options.

The preserve includes many remnants of the historic Packard Farm including granite fencing and an old truck, along with railroad features. See photos below.