Western Foothills Land Trust Preserves in Norway
Region: Maine's Lakes & Mountains
Activities: Walking, Mountain Biking, Running, Dog Walking, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Sledding, Seeing Public Art & Outdoor Sculpture
Family & Dog Friendly
It would be hard to enjoy all of the Western Foothills Land Trust preserves in Norway in a single day. But it would sure be fun to try.
Those areas—Roberts Farm Preserve, Shepard’s Farm Family Preserve and the Witt Swamp Preserve—cover hundreds of acres of former farmlands, wetlands and forests. All are within shouting distance of Norway’s burgeoning Main Street, with its fun mix of shops and restaurants. Outdoor folks can find almost anything they want in these preserves, from walking, skiing and mountain-biking trails to places to view fine art in the open air. And use is free (donations are accepted, of course).
The roots of these areas sprout from the late 1700s. The 212-acre Roberts Farm Preserve was a dairy farm. Walk its 20 kilometers of trails (many groomed for cross-country skiing in winter) and you’ll find the remains of antique orchards, groves, stone walls and pastures. Most trails are gentle. Some offer wonderful views of adjacent Lake Pennesseewassee, also known as Norway Lake.
Roberts also has a short, ADA-accessible trail, circling two large sculptures by Maine artist Bernard Langlais. The noted sculptor is probably best known for his wooden works—often massive, whimsical and unmistakable. The sculptures at Roberts, and six additional ones at Shepard’s Farm, are part of the statewide Langlais Art Trail. Some Langlais bas-relief works can be seen in winter inside Roberts’ warming hut, which is closed during warmer months.
The Shepard's Farm Family Preserve, like Roberts, began with agriculture. Its 20 acres of woodland and pasture sits high on Crockett Ridge. In warmer months, the heights draw picnickers, dog walkers, runners and kite-flyers. Mountain bikers enjoy 6.4 kilometers of trails, which run from easy to moderate. Like Roberts, this preserve draws skiers and snowshoers in winter as well as sledders who enjoy its safe, open hills.
The 271-acre Witt Swamp Preserve and its large extension are primarily white-cedar wetlands. Much of them were owned by a wood-products company, which logged parts of them. Explore the original preserve on the Witt Swamp Trail loop. The extension boasts a nifty boardwalk, part of a longer trail leading to nearby Shepard’s Farm.
The preserves have signs encouraging visitors to use COVID-19 safety strategies such as social distancing or coming back later if a particular area seems crowded. Check the Western Foothills Land Trust website for more information on trails and activities.
From Bangor: 130 miles
From Lewiston: 20 miles
From Portland: 50 miles