Friday, August 19, 2016

Blackstrap Hill Preserve offers plenty of choices - By Stephen Signor

Contained within 280 acres off Blackstrap Road in Falmouth is a 1.8 mile loop trail that awaits exploration. The Blackstrap Hill Community Forest and Preserve consists of two separate properties totaling nearly 600 acres welcoming those interested in mountain biking, hiking, walking and trail running. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, nature study and horseback riding are all allowed. To this end it is accessible year-round. Motorized vehicles are prohibited with the exception of snowmobiles and then only on marked trails. Trails are not handicapped accessible and although dogs are permitted they must be kept on a leash.

Most of the town-owned land was acquired in 1995 as part of a comprehensive effort to preserve Wilshore Farm. The remainder of the property was acquired in 1999 by the Falmouth Land Trust. Both purchases were aided by Land for Maine Future grants. Historically, both properties were either woodlots or pasture. Water pipes found near the river are artifacts of the portable steam-power sawmills used on the site in the 1920s. The utility line was established in 1929. Located just a couple hundred yards north of Mast Road access to the preserve can also be made from here. Entering here can be rewarding during the late summer months as blackberries are abundant and ready for picking. 

There are three designated access points making exploration convenient. They are located on Blackstrap Road, Hurricane Road and just a short distance north of the Babbidge Road/Blackstrap intersection. Parking is available and each access point has an information kiosk. While there are no handheld maps available, there are laminated trail maps posted at each junction. Each trail is color coded with corresponding tree markers making exploration worry free of getting lost. 

An extensive trail network, Blackstrap offers nature lovers the best an area of its size can offer. In addition to a diverse variety of flora and fauna the preserve is also home to a variety of wildlife. The Piscataquis River can be particularly scenic and during the wet season several small but picturesque waterfalls can be seen. 

There are choices of direction based on the level of physical ability, but none so extreme to discourage. Trail surfaces range from smooth, rocky or rooted to some that are bridged over wet areas. As with any heavily wooded area deer ticks are common so precautions are recommended to avoid Lyme Disease. This is also a popular hunting area, so caution should be observed in the fall by wearing orange as outer clothing is highly recommended by the Falmouth Land Trust.

Directions and further information can be obtained at or

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