RRCT’s Mèmak Preserve is a 46-acre conservation area at 78 Lufkin Road in North Yarmouth. Mèmak is a Wabanaki word for Pileated Woodpeckers, associated with luck and friendship in the culture of Maine’s first people. For more on the etymology, legend, and ornithology of “Mèmak,” scroll below.
The mature woods are filled with woodpeckers, warblers, and wildlife, and are formed by a diverse mix of red oak, “legacy” mature white pine, hemlock, beech, red pine, and maple. Few forest stands of this quality exist in Cumberland County. Surrounded by mossy stone walls, the trails are popular for walking and family-friendly mountain biking. Blueberries, lady slippers, mushrooms, and wildflowers are scattered on the forest floor. A snowmobile trail creates year-round connections to Route 115 near the Gray-North Yarmouth town line.
Maps, Historic Maps, Historic Aerials
In 2021, Summit Utilities formalized their financial and volunteer support of this preserve through RRCT’s Adopt-A-Trail Program, along with major Summit work days in 2020 opening the new trailhead and its trails. Please thank the many Summit employees who continue to improve the trail network with financial support and voluntarism.
Trails, Trailheads, and Accessibility
Trails are largely established since opening in 2020. Please be patient and respect all neighbors, including several residential construction sites as the neighborhood evolves.
The parking lot entrance and trailhead is at 78 Lufkin Road. Look for RRCT’s blue roadside sign, with RRCT’s driveway adjacent to a residential driveway.
Lufkin is a dead-end road in North Yarmouth that leaves Route 231 (New Gloucester Road) just north of the intersection of Routes 115 & 231 (just north of the Congregational Church.)
Two parallel trails leave the 78 Lufkin Road parking lot, one designed for snowmobiles and one designed for non-motorized trail users. The trail network includes a one-mile “lollipop” loop trail for walking and biking, as well as spurs connecting to neighborhoods and powerlines.
No trails exist to, or upon, the majestic forest of the Deer Brook parcel. It is reserved for adventurous folks looking for off-trail exploration (no hunting) after crossing the raspberries and brambles of the powerline.
Rules and Regulations and Hunting
No hunting is allowed on the Deer Brook parcel, due to subdivision covenants.
There is a long tradition of hunting on the powerline. Hunting is technically allowed on the core part of the preserve, but severely limited due to a growing number of nearby residences and trails. Please hunt safely, and hikers please wear orange.
We allow dogs under control, mountain bikes, snowmobiles, and other uses. Please keep dogs on leash near roads, parking, and residences.
RRCT & You: Updates, Alerts, & Cautions
Hunting is allowed on this preserve. Please wear orange during all hunting seasons.
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
History: Circle of Song, Stewardship, Conservation, and Landowners
Scroll above to the maps section for historic maps and historic aerials. Scroll below to the next tab for the Abenaki/Wabanaki etymology of the preserve’s name.
Lufkin Road, also known as “A Road of Many Names,” has a rich history including a tradition of a circle of song. At dusk, Mabel Skillin Kennedy (1872-1963) would sing a call from her home (at the base of the hill) to neighbors, who would pass the song to the neighbors on the Royal River, to Route 231, and back again. This article describes the history of Lufkin Road with an 1871 map, and a description of the circle of song.
Donated in August 2020 by Ed & Joyce Gervais and their family, the preserve is a cherished addition to North Yarmouth’s rapidly growing village zone. This Forecaster article from December 2020 describes the donation. The Gervais family had acquired the various parcels that now form the preserve; once directly connected to Walnut Hill Farm (83 Gray Road).
The Gervais family acquired the largest of the now-preserve parcels in 2006 from Ursula & Lee Baier in 2006. The Baiers had acquired the parcel along with more land in 1978. This 2020 North Yarmouth Historical Society article describes the Baier legacy and history throughout North Yarmouth, including a photo of Mrs. Baier with Joyce Gervais.
The Baier family also granted the nearby Deer Brook Farm Road conservation easement to the North Yarmouth Land Trust (now merged with Royal River Conservation Trust) on December 29, 1988, as part of the Deer Brook subdivision. This conservation easement is now mapped as part of the preserve. RRCT’s oldest conservation deeds are various deeds of the North Yarmouth Land Trust in 1988, the year after the founding of the North Yarmouth Land Trust, the first of RRCT’s various predecessor organizations. Mrs. Baier served on the board of the North Yarmouth Land Trust beginning in 1997. Ed Gervais served on the board of the Royal River Conservation Trust beginning in 2007. The two organizations merged in 2006.
Natural Resources, Habitat, Abenaki Interpretation
Mèmak is a Wabanaki word for Pileated Woodpeckers, associated with luck and friendship in the culture of Maine’s first people.
One of the best-recorded Wabanaki languages is the Penobscot language. To learn more about the Penobscot language, and for translation and pronunciation, this online text and audio Penobscot dictionary is a new resource which we used for the spelling and pronunciation of “Mèmak (plural).” Wabanaki local to North Yarmouth were known to tribes in Quebec as Abenaki (“dawn land people”) or to themselves as Alnambak (“real people”), part of the larger Eastern Algonquin ethnicity. The modern Penobscot language is largely the Abenaki language, due to Abenaki re-population of the Penobscot River valley following inter-tribal wars killing the Penobscot River’s Etchemin (also “real people”) leader The Bashaba in 1615, and the same era’s Great Dying of the Penobscot River’s Etchemins due to European disease. (Source: Haviland, Canoe People of Downeast Maine, 2012, pp 15-16).
To read more about Mèmak and stories of native American woodpecker legend and heritage, see: Abenaki/ Algonquin legends.
The mature woods are filled with woodpeckers, warblers, and wildlife, and are formed by a diverse mix of red oak, “Legacy” white pine, hemlock, beech, red pine, and maple. With trees more than twenty inches in diameter, few forest stands of this quality exist in Cumberland County. Surrounded by mossy stone walks, the trails are popular for walking and family-friendly mountain biking. Blueberries, lady slippers, mushrooms, and wildflowers are scattered on the forest floor.
The preserve is located on the northern slopes of Walnut Hill, draining toward Deer Brook. The unique ecology of this area is due to the significant gravel deposits under the preserve, feeding Deer Brook with clear cold water that supports wild brook trout. While many gravel deposits in the area have been excavated, the woods of Mèmak Preserve remain supported by well-drained soils and gravel, resulting in a more diverse forest than most of the watershed (most of the watershed is ledge and clay). The stone walls lining the trails, similarly, are made from small boulders typical of a gravel deposit, as compared to other walls in the watershed that are made of ledgey stone or granite.
On one edge of the property, a few old granite fence posts still stand, perhaps serving as gate posts in a gap in the stone walls.
While the edges of the preserve were recently harvested, most of the preserve has had no timber harvest for more than fifty years, resulting in mature trees supporting a diversity of bird life and wildlife.
Across the powerline, the Deer Brook parcel contains equally old, mature and diverse forests although with steeper slopes and wetter soils, thus dominated by hemlock and mature birch. The short stretch of Deer Brook hosts small quantities of mossy shoreline and wild trout, and is mapped (with various small tributaries) by Maine DIFW as Inland Wading Bird and Waterfowl Habitat.
The Mèmak Preserve is not only home to the Pileated Woodpecker, but also to Pine Siskins, Red Crossbills, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmouses and more.
The easy walk allows for relaxed study of breeding species, including a variety of warblers. Black-throated Green Warblers and Ovenbirds dominate, but in the heavily coniferous component there is a territory or two of one most beautiful of our warblers: the Blackburnian Warbler. Meanwhile, as you approach and parallel the powerline cut, listen for Prairie Warblers “singing the scale,” the happy greetings from Chestnut-sided Warblers, and Eastern Towhees reminding you to “drink-your-tea.”
Visit The Best Birding in the Royal River Watershed to learn more.
Scroll above for more on the etymology of the word Mèmak, meaning Pileated Woodpecker, as well as Native American legends