Thanks to new land donations by several private owners as well as the city of Westbrook, Mill Brook Preserve, owned by Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, now encompasses 130 acres with five miles of trails which are open to the public for walking, hiking, trail running, and snowshoeing. The brook itself runs from Highland Lake, winding through pristine forest that feels more like the wilderness of Northern Maine than the the heart of Westbrook, making it a great spot for a fall hike.
Rachelle Curran Apse, Land Trust Executive Director said, “Mill Brook Preserve trails offer spectacular views of the largest migratory alewife run from Casco Bay each spring. The expansion of Mill Brook Preserve means more people will be able to experience the diversity of wildlife attracted to the fish migration, like great blue herons, osprey, bald eagles and mink.”
The official count for this year’s alewife migration was nearly 40,000 fish that swam from Casco Bay up Mill Brook to Highland Lake to spawn. The Land Trust collaborates with the University of Southern Maine’s Environmental Science and Policy Professors Karen Wilson and Theo Willis to track the size of the fish run. This year’s alewife run is about the same size as last year which is good news for wildlife in the region. If you have not seen this amazing phenomenon in person, mark your calendar and plan for a hike next spring, too, when the alewives are running.
Four trailheads provide access to the Preserve. The primary trailhead, with parking for 8 cars, is located at the junction of Methodist Road and Route 302 in Westbrook. There is parking for four cars at the trailhead on Allen Knight Road, next to 789 Methodist Road. The MAGAN trailhead is across the street from Willow Drive, with parking available off Route 302. Be careful when crossing Rt. 302 to reach the trail. The Southern Trailhead is in on Perry Court, next to 55 Perry Court. Maps for this, and all the land trust’s conserved lands are available at www.prlt.org.
Toby Jacobs, the Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator for the Land Trust, said, “Volunteers were critical in helping to build the trail expansion this year. The great news is that this Mill Brook Preserve North opening is only phase two. We expect to expand the preserve and trail system again next year to the south.”
The non-profit Presumpscot Regional Land Trust supports healthy lands, waters, wildlife, and people across the Presumpscot River watershed through conservation, water quality monitoring, education, and public access. It currently holds 1,600 acres of conserved lands in 14 public access preserves and trails in the towns of Gorham, Gray, Sebago, Standish, Westbrook and Windham which are free and open to the public, including the 28-mile long Sebago to the Sea Trail.