Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth
Activities: Walking, hiking, wildlife, birding, educational events. Family-friendly, great for a day trip.
Region: Greater Portland and Casco Bay
Just five minutes from Portland, you can immerse yourself in nature at Maine Audubon’s headquarters at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth. This sprawling, 65-acre sanctuary offers fun any time of the year — with its rolling lands and trails that extend through forest, meadow, orchard and salt marsh alongside a pond and the Presumpscot River estuary. Walk through the apple orchard in the fall, or admire the fragrant pink peony garden in the summer.
Gilsland Farm offers more than scenic beauty, with an environmental education center for educators, adults and children, as well as a gift shop with nature-minded souvenirs. See, smell and explore this wonderous place, with new experiences to discover every season.
The sanctuary’s 2.5 miles of gentle trails wind through open fields and woodlands, with glimpses of the dazzling Presumpscot River, and are perfect for a walk, snowshoe or cross-country ski experience. Friendly to all ages, the trails are connected by the main trailhead outside the Visitor Center, offering natural beauty to discover at every turn.
West Meadow Trail (0.7 miles)
Traverse the rolling West Meadow with opportunities to see the Presumpscot River from the bluffs. Follow the signs to a small, forested wetland, and be on the lookout for wintering waterfowl and migrant shorebirds gracing the tidal mudflats.
Pond Meadow Trail (0.6 miles)
This trail offers the greatest diversity of habitat, with beautifully mature trees dating back a century or more, complementing newer gatherings of red maple, ash, white birch and trembling Aspen. Follow the trail to a pond where muskrat and wetland birds live and feed.
North Meadow Trail (1.2 miles)
This trail is mowed every other year in late fall after nesting birds have fledged their young and sparrows have migrated. Keep your eyes peeled for Canada geese and birds of prey come winter.
In addition to a wide variety of birds nesting, feeding and flitting throughout the trails, there are many other creatures that call the Gilsland Farm home. You may spot weasels, red fox, deer and the farm’s unique population of black woodchucks. During milder months, stop by the pond and listen for the peeping of frogs, or watch glittering dragonflies and butterflies flying about the peony garden.
Learn and Explore
The beauty of the surrounding lands and the center’s dedication to sustainability and education inspire artmaking, kids’ camps, educational talks and more. Whether kids participate in the Nature Explorer Backpack events, where they can use the tools inside a provided pack to explore the surrounding lands at their own pace, or families join a naturalist and photographer for an “owl show,” adults and kids alike will be inspired, delighted and more motivated to protect the sacred surroundings.
Take home birdseed and bird homes to attract stunning creatures to your home, or shop a variety of stationery, books, calendars, home goods and jewelry. The retail experts at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center can help you find exactly what you seek.
Grab a Bite
Hungry after your exploring? Head to Foreside Tavern and choose from a variety of pub foods and a great kids’ menu, or take in the water views of Casco Bay at Dockside Grill. In nearby Portland, go to Monte’s Fine Foods for fresh pizza, salads and sandwiches. There is plenty more to explore in Portland, including shops, museums and more places to eat!
From Ellsworth: 152 miles
From Bangor: 126 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 36 miles
From Portland: 5 miles