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Maine's Lakes and Mountains Birding Trail
1. Brownfield Bog
Brownfield Bog is valued by Maine birders because it contains species more common to southern New England. It is the most reliable Maine location to find Yellow-throated Vireos and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos are also present. The bog is park of the Saco River complex and has been improved for waterfowl management. Least Bitterns, Wilson's Snipes, and Virginia Rails reside among the reeds.
From Route 5/113 in Brownfield, turn east on Route 160 (Denmark Road). Blinking traffic lights protect this intersection of several roads. Proceed 1.4 miles and turn onto Lord's Hill Road, then an immediate left onto Bog Lane. (There is no other sign to indicate the property)
2. Thorncrag Nature Preserve
Thorncrag Nature Preserve overlooks Lewiston from the highest point in the city. The Stanton Bird Club has managed this 310-acre preserve for over 80 years and maintains 3 miles of easy trail. A Variety of Maine's common songbirds are present.
The sanctuary is reached from Sabattus Street (Route 126) on the east side of Lewiston. Look for the Hannaford Supermarket and turn onto highland Spring Road Adjacent to it. One trail entrance is at the end of Highland Spring Road, or turn left onto Montello Street, right onto East Avenue, and park at the end near the Montello Heights Reservoir.
3. Sabattus Pond
Sabattus Pond is remarkable in autumn when water levels draw down, exposing extensive mud flats. Surprising numbers of Semipalmated, Least, and White-rumped Sandpipers are joined by Pectoral Sandpipers, Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers, Killdeer, and later-arriving Dunlins. Stay alert for American Golden Plovers and Sanderlings. As the shorebirds depart, waterfowl move in. From October until freeze-up, regulars include Mallards, American Black Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Green-winged Teals, American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Ring-necked Ducks, both species of scaup, and American Coots. Even saltwater migrants are possible. Most of the available birding is from a small park and boat launch called Martin Point on the southwestern corner of the pond.
From the Maine Turnpike, take Exit 86 (ME 9 / Sabattus) and head west on Route 9. In 1.3 miles, Route 9 will turn left. Instead, proceed straight through the light for another 0.3 miles to Sabattus, and then turn right on Elm Street and right again on Lake Street to the park at Martin Point.
4. The Greater Lovell Land Trust
The Greater Lovell Land Trust has built an inventory of birding opportunities in Western Maine. Sucker Brook Preserve is a 32-acre nature trail in Lovell. It begins and ends on Horseshoe Pond Road. The trail is best known for its profusion of Cardinal Flowers in August, but birders will find it more productive from April through July. Many common warblers, woodpeckers, and flycatchers nest within the preserve. There is a viewing platform that overlooks a bog.
From Route 5, take the West Lovell Road over the Narrows, past the Kezar Lake Marina. Bear left onto Foxboro Road, then right at New Road. Turn right at Horseshoe Pond Road.
The Heald Pond Preserve trail follows a jeep path, skirting the west side of Heald Pond, Good for common warblers and thrushes. The Bradley Pond Preserve is part of the same parcel as Heald pond but access trail begins from a difference parking lot. It loops through hardwood forest that leads hikers around a woodland bog.
From Route 5, Turn east onto Slab City Road. The 2.4 mile Heald loop trail begins on Slab City Road 500 feet west of the Fairburn parking area at the south end of Heald Pond. The Bradley Pond Trail is reached via Heald Pond Road just a little farther down Slab City Road.
5. The White Mountain National Forest
The White Mountain National Forest extends across the New Hampshire boarder into Maine. Route 113 skirts the west side, passing through Evans Notch and providing access to scenic overlooks, trailheads, and campgrounds. Crocker Pond is a small campground (7 sites) on the east side of the forest. The access road and many of the wetlands in this area are extraordinarily rich, both in birds and moose. An auto tour begins at Patte Brook, where tour maps are normally stocked. Patte Marsh is a 4.5-acre wetland improved by the U.S. Forest Service and Ducks Unlimited. Waterfowl can be abundant in spring and fall. The road ends at Crocker pond. Bird the access road, the parking area, and the Round Pond trail located beyond the parking area.
Route 113 passes through Evans Notch. Crocker Pond may be reached from Route 2 via Flat Road in West Bethel or from Route 5 in Albany just south of Songo Pond. Follow the signs.
6. Grafton Notch State Park
Grafton Notch State Park is very popular with hikers. The Appalachian Trail twists over some of the prettiest summits in Maine, including Old Speck and Baldpate Mountains. Between the peaks, Bear River plummets alongside Route 26 through scenic drops like "Screw Auger Falls," "Mother Walker Falls Gorge," and "Moose Cave Gorge." At the Appalachian Trail parking lot, Philadelphia Vireos dominate the dawn chorus. Peregrine Falcons nest on the cliffs. Spruce Meadow Picnic Area begins a transition to cliffs. Spruce Meadow Picnic Area begins a transition to boreal habitat at the northern end of the park. Boreal Chickadees can be found here. This zone extends for another three miles beyond the park boundary, which can be scouted for Black-backed Woodpeckers. At higher elevations of the park, encounters include Gray Jays, Spruce Grouse, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Bay-breasted Warblers, and Blackpolls. Bicknell's Thrushes are present throughout the krummholz zone of the Mahoosuc Range.
The park sits astride Route 26 between Grafton and Newry.
7. Mt. Blue State Park
Mt. Blue State Park is second only to Baxter State Park as the largest state park in Maine. It contains several hiking peaks and a lakefront camping area. Center hill is a short, interpretive trail reached shortly after driving into the park. it features breading Hermit Thrushes and Winter Wrens. Many common warblers are easily located, and Scarlet Tanagers are often audible from the parking lot.
From Route 2 in Wilton, turn onto Route 156 and follow the signs in the park in Weld.
8. Rangeley Lake State Park
Rangeley Lake State Park is popular primarily for camping and swimming, but a trail winds along the edge that yields many of Maine's common songbirds.
From Route 4, turn onto South Shore Drive - approximately 5 miles on right. From Route 17, Turn onto South Shore Drive - approximately 3 miles on left
9. Saddleback Mountain
Saddleback Mountain is a large ski area on the outskirts of Rangeley. It is also the most reliable place to find Bicknell's Thrush, though the climb is very strenuous and unsuitable for many people. Saddleback Mountain management is accustomed to hikers accessing the summit via their ski trails and has marked the proper route. Check for a hiking trail map at the base lodge. Once above 2,500 feet, birders are free to Blackpolls, Bay-breasted Warblers, Boreal Chickadees, Gray Jays, and Spruce Grouse. The Bicknell's Thrush is notorious for singing only at dawn and dusk, but its call notes may occur at any time.
From Route 4 just south of Rangeley, turn onto Dallas Hill Road and follow the signs.
10. Hunter Cove
Hunter cove is property of the Rangeley Lake Heritage Trust. Several trails wander through mixed habitat to a cove on Rangeley Lake. A thick stand of young spruce near the parking lot sometimes harbors Boreal Chickadees. Blackburnian Warblers are common over the first few hundred yard of the trail, and Cape May Warblers have appeared annually.
The entrance is on the west side of Route 4 between Rangeley and Oquossoc, at the foot of Dodge Pond Hill opposite Dodge Pond.
11. Bald Mountain
Bald Mountain is a 2,443 foot knob that separates Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic Lakes. There is an observation tower on the top that assures a superb 360-degree view. The bottom two-thirds of the ascent passes through mature hardwood forest. After 45 minutes of hiking, the forest begins its transition to balsam fir and spruce where boreal species becomes more familiar.
The trailhead is on Bald Hill Road less than a mile from the end of Route 4 in Oquossoc.
12. Boy Scout Road
Boy Scout Road is another project of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. This dead-end, dirt road provides excellent birding through a mixture of habitats. Most of its 3-mile length shadows an alder stream, beginning in deciduous forest but changing to mixed habitat and then thick spruce over a relatively short distance. Boreal Chickadees and Gray Jays are residents, and other northern birds are likely.
The Boy Scout Road is on the east side of Route 16, just 1.3 miles after its split with Route 4 in Oquossoc.
13. Bigelow Preserve
Bigelow Preserve features outstanding hiking trails. During an ascent of the various peaks, habitat change rapidly and a great assortment of forest birds are found. Above 3,000 feet, look and listen for Bicknell's Thrushes. Bigelow Mountain is a strenuous, all-day hike well worth the effort.
A major trailhead is located prominently on Route 27, which accesses all trails on both sides of the road. An alternative set the trailheads is located within the Bigelow Preserve on Stratton Pond Brook Road, marked by a small sign.