Flowing North Preserve

Named for the short stretch of Royal River that flows north from the Fairgrounds until the river drops south toward the ocean in Auburn, this 19-acre wooded property at the end of Sawyer Road in New Gloucester straddles the Royal River. Much of the property is either steep slopes or floodplain. Visitors can cross the river at low water levels on fallen logs, or by wading knee-deep.

One of RRCT’s most placid preserves, this preserve has no trails or infrastructure. The preserve has been enjoyed by local anglers and hunters for generations and offers a quiet place to enjoy the upper reaches of the Royal River or to harvest fiddleheads in season. Known locally as “Hell Hole,” the vast floodplain with mature trails hosts a rich variety of flora and fauna, explored after descending down steep banks.

RRCT’s vision for Flowing North Preserve is to protect intact natural communities along the Royal River shoreline to promote biodiversity, connectivity of wildlife habitat, and climate resilience. Open for public access, RRCT envisions that the trail-free experience will continue to naturally invite compatible, low impact uses such as hunting, fishing, foraging, and observation of wildlife and nature.

To report an issue at this preserve, contact the Royal River Conservation Trust.

More Information


Map of the Flowing North Preserve – Downloadable PDF

Map of the preserve and abutting conservation land — Downloadable PDF map.

Trails, Trailheads and Accessibility

This preserve has no trails and is inaccessible to all but the most agile people.

Flowing North Preserve is located at the very end of Sawyer Road, off Bald Hill Road in New Gloucester. Visitors may park at the very end of Sawyer Road and walk straight ahead onto the old road toward the river banks, down very steep slopes. Road access to the end of Sawyer Road depends upon seasonal maintenance; it may not be regularly maintained in spring and winter.  Even in summer, the road has very soft sand. The preserve has very limited signs or kiosks.

In 2018 neighbors installed a road sign that can confuse; neighbors are working to discourage ATV traffic on the road. RRCT does have the right to invite the public to drive on Sawyer Road to RRCT’s land. However, please respect the very poor condition of the road and please give all courtesies to neighbors.

Once on the land, access requires walking down a steep slope to explore old roads; there are no marked trails. This is not a good parcel for a casual stroll due to the lack of trails. But there are delightful adventures like walking up the river banks toward rips, water falls, streams, and floodplains. Or crossing the river on a log to wander aimlessly up a small meandering floodplain tributary. The river is not suitable for boats on this stretch.

In 2018, the Maine Woodland Owners Land Trust (MWO) acquired abutting land, upriver from RRCT’s land and continuing upriver to Bald Hill Road (the Cemetery). MWO does not post its property. Parking on Bald Hill Road is not allowed. Parking at the Fairgrounds, then crossing Bald Hill Road, allows off-trail access down the river’s western banks, across MWO’s property through steep woods, to RRCT’s land.

Rules, Regulations and Hunting

  • This preserve is great for primitive off-trail foraging and hunting.
  • Safe and responsible hunting on the preserve is encouraged. As a courtesy pleases call RRCT to inform us if you plan any trapping on the parcel. Hikers should always wear blaze orange during hunting season, on all hikes.
  • Tenting and camping  is allowed, please notify us in advance of your camping plans. There are no developed tent sites on the Preserve, and no privies. If you find a developed primitive camp site, you have crossed onto private land. The best tenting on RRCT land would involve crossing the narrow river — there is no bridge. The appealing tent site with a fire ring is not on RRCT land. Give us a call if you plan to camp and please always abide by strict adherence to “Leave No Trace” principles.
  • Please respect various postings on private abutting land.
  • Smoking is prohibited on all RRCT preserves.
  • Dogs are welcome, but on leash or voice control with strict attention to pet waste removal.

RRCT & You: Updates, Alerts, & 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 – please consider filling out a Conditions Report. 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 Stewardship@RRCT.org

Conservation History and Stewardship

This 18.9-acre parcel is owned by the Royal River Conservation Trust. The preserve was created as part of a subdivision that developed parts of Sawyer Road. The adjacent parcel gifted in 2018 by Chandler Brothers to Maine Woodland Owners Land Trust creates a larger conservation vision, with better long-term recreational access opportunities to RRCT’s parcel coming from the Fairgrounds across Maine Woodland Owners.