Wildflowers glowed within the late afternoon solar. As I walked alongside the sting of a discipline, cows wandered lazily, munching on grass. A chipmunk squeaked, then disappeared inside an previous rock wall. And all I might suppose was: Why did I wait so lengthy to go to?
The stunning trails at Hart Farm in Holden are a reasonably latest growth. Nonetheless, I really feel foolish for not exploring them sooner. I stay shut by, and it’s a beautiful spot for photographing nature — whether or not its birds, mushrooms or the best way the wilderness takes over the crumbling ruins of a homestead.
The farm and path community are positioned on Copeland Hill, which gives an open view of the distant Appalachian Mountains. The farm dates again to the mid-1800s, and due to the work of two Maine land trusts, it’s nonetheless working at this time.
In 2016, Holden Land Belief bought the 157-acre property to guard it from being subdivided and developed. Working with Maine Farmland Belief, HLT established an easement that required the land be used for agriculture. In 2018, it formally turned a “Perpetually Farm.”
In 2020, a younger couple bought the farm from the Holden Land Belief and set to work on renovations, planting produce and elevating livestock. As a part of the deal, HLT retained an easement that allowed for a path community on the property.
At this time, the community includes about three miles of trails. And when you’re in search of an extended journey, a connector path results in the path community of the neighboring Fields Pond Audubon Middle, which whole slightly below 4 miles of trails.
Simply remember that whereas canines are permitted at Hart Farm, they don’t seem to be permitted at Fields Pond.
At Hart Farm, the paths are marked with steel diamonds which are nailed to tree trunks. Completely different colours are used for various routes. For instance, the Pocket Discipline Path is marked with blue diamonds, whereas the Shelterwood Path is marked in white diamonds.
And right here’s one thing that I like: The wood indicators on the intersections are numbered. And people numbers correspond with numbers on the path map, making navigation straightforward. As a first-time customer, I significantly appreciated that. At no level was I confused about my location.
I walked the Pocket Discipline Path first. The route is a “lollipop,” that means it begins as one path and splits into a giant loop. As well as, you possibly can choose between the Decrease Path and Center Path for one aspect of the loop.
I selected the Decrease Path, which threads by means of an exquisite combined forest. I discovered clusters of ferns and yellow-orange chanterelle mushrooms, towering white pine timber and mossy stumps. Deer tracks dotted the few muddy sections.
I additionally noticed two previous, rusted-out automobiles within the woods. There was one thing romantic about them, with their doorways flung open and nothing left of their seats however springs.
On the east aspect of the loop, at path signal 9, was the positioning of the previous Isaac Bates and Ursula Jones Homestead. Bates moved to Holden from Massachusetts in 1790, and married Ursula Jones in 1807, based on an academic show on the web site.
I like an excellent academic show. The one on the homestead web site features a drawing of the “hall-and-parlor” type home that used to face there. At this time, solely a stone basis stays. The show additionally features a diagram of how the property was in all probability laid out, in addition to the names of the couple’s eight kids.
As I walked, I famous the great thing about late summer season, with its purple asters and vivid yellow shoots of goldenrod. Maple leaves had been simply beginning to flip, their inexperienced being changed by splotches of vivid pink. Crows cawed as they swept throughout the sky.
Earlier than heading house to prepare dinner supper, I made a decision to take a look at the property’s different main loop: the Shelterwood Path. It led me to an impressive stand of tall, straight pines, the place the late afternoon daylight filtered by means of to an understory of sentimental grass and wildflowers.
I’d by no means heard the time period “shelterwood” earlier than, so I regarded it up. It’s a forestry methodology that encourages pure tree replica below the shelter of previous timber, that are eliminated by successive cuttings. All I can say is that there was one thing stunning concerning the uniformity of the straight tree trunks, spaced in such a approach that I might look deep into the forest.
The solar, a shimmering orange ball, simply hovered above the horizon by the point I returned to the gravel car parking zone. And I drove away realizing that I’d quickly return.
In the event you, too, are excited about visiting, a path map could be discovered on the City of Holden web site or Holden Land Belief Fb web page. The map can be posted on the kiosk on the car parking zone, which is on Copeland Hill Street, throughout the highway from the farmhouse.
The kiosk additionally contains the property guidelines. The paths are open from daybreak till nightfall, 12 months spherical, and entry is free. Guests are requested to remain on designated trails and observe “Go away No Hint” rules. This implies selecting up your trash and canine waste, in addition to respecting wildlife and different path customers. Canine are permitted however should be leashed. Open fires, tenting and consumption of alcohol should not allowed.
Simply past the kiosk is a path register. Register to let Holden Land Belief understand how the property is getting used. I’ve heard that that info could be useful when land trusts make administration selections and apply for issues like grants, so I at all times check in.
In the event you do go to the path community, possibly I’ll see you on the market. I’ve a sense that it’s going to show into one among my favourite haunts.