Pride Preserve in Westbrook, Maine, is a beautiful newborn 188 acre forest and wetlands preserve, opened in 2020 and owned and managed by the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) (see map and info here). According to PRLT, it is “the largest conserved forestland in urban greater Portland.” The 3.5 miles of trails on the Preserve connect to Falmouth’s 63-acre Hardy Road Conservation Area trails. Parking is located in a lot off Duck Pond Road, as well as overflow on the side of Duck Pond Road itself. The 1 mile and 1.5 mile loop trails, joined by a connector, lead to a .5 mile out-and-back spur, and there are ponds, cascading streams, meadows, and a historic cemetery.
On a warm July morning, we explored a 3.8 mile loop through Pride Preserve and the Hardy Road trails, taking about an hour and a half. The PRLT trails were quiet, relatively flat, and well-marked, perfect for trailrunning. On the south side (closer to the trailhead) there are unfortunately some kitschy pre-fabricated fairy houses and castles on the trail. While some children may enjoy these things, the official Hiking in Maine position is that it detracts from the natural experience, like painted rocks and Bluetooth speakers. These brightly colored accents are thankfully few and far between.
We picked our way over the ledges of the Blue Loop, which was lined with blueberries, down to the Red Loop and the Rapids Spur, where Minnow Brook runs downhill to the Presumpscot River. This short spur trail, bordering a Westbrook neighborhood, is well worth the hike, as the brook serpentines through rocks, over moss, and in small cascades, with a very pleasing sound. The calls of goldfinches, hermit thrushes, and chickadees rang throughout the walk. Bullfrogs called from small, clear ponds filled with lilies.
The Hardy Road trails in Falmouth were a different animal- there were beautiful evergreen forest sections, filled with slanting light, and bird and butterfly-filled meadows. But there were also poorly marked trails, ringing shallow ponds with dumped truck tires poking out of the surface, bracketed by No Trespassing and Private Property signs, and ending abruptly in towering dirt piles or deep washouts harboring leeches. We picked our way through this section, including a brief fireman’s carry to traverse a submerged area, so only one of us got our shoes wet. The Falmouth Connector took us back to complete the loop of Pride Preserve.