Off the West Falmouth exit of I-95 (exit 53), tucked behind the Hannaford plaza, is a hidden gem. You can find a detailed description of the land and its history at the Town of Falmouth site regarding the River Point Conservation Area. This 1.4 mile network of trails also links to the Cross Falmouth trails and Portland Trails, as well as being accessible by canoe from the Presumpscot River.
On the cloudy late July afternoon we visited the trails, mosquitoes were thick, and ticks were abundant in the tall grassy areas, so plan appropriately with insect repellent/gear. This did not hamper our enjoyment of the flowers and birds throughout the conservation area. Also, stay on the trails to avoid poison ivy.
The interpretive signs along the trail would be good for scavenger hunt-type activities with kids, and provide insight to the area, its history, and the flora and fauna that inhabit it. The signs also disclose that the trail is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts, which has a location at the adjacent shopping center.
According to the Town of Falmouth website, River Point was used for thousands of years as a campsite by Native Americans as they traveled seasonally from Sebago Lake to the ocean. The first white settlers homesteaded the original 151-acre property in 1775, and farmed there until 1883, establishing a brickyard and shingle mill on the property. In 1859, the Kennebec & Portland Railroad line bisected the property. The bridge, the only bridge in Maine built to connect to just one house, provided access to Route 100. The town acquired River Point in 1995 when the shopping center was developed. The Town Council designated the 41-acre property as a conservation area in 2009.
This small conservation area, with a short, flat loop trail, is perfect for a lunchtime or after-work walk in the greater Portland area, and the open fields, with birdhouses, are excellent places to observe songbirds (and in the evening, bats). The town of Falmouth lists allowable uses as: Hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, fishing, and nature study. For those with pets, just check the signs beforehand, as pets are not allowed when birds are nesting.