Forest Trails and Meadows

Hike our rustic trails and bird watch in our open meadows

Merryspring’s rustic trails will take you on an adventure through forests and meadows.

From dry, high ground with pine trees to a wetland with cedar, across meadows of wild flowers, insects and birds, your experience will vary every time you visit.  Barred and Great Horned owls call out and hawks circle overhead.  Wood frogs croak, dragonflies patrol and a new discovery is just around every corner.  Look for animal tracks, bird nests, wildflowers and pollinators on our 4 miles of trails.

In spring, look for budding trees, migrating birds, and spring flowers like snowdrops, wood anemone and blood root.  Don’t miss the daffodils in the Maine State Daylily Society planting or the new ones in the North Meadow.

In summer, warm breezes blow across the meadows and their wildflowers with pollinators buzzing about.  The trees are leafed out, offering shade to the many benches waiting for you.  Summer birds are here raising their young, hunting insects and worms.  The pine needles have a lovely smell under your feet as you travel a trail.

In fall, the leaves change color as they only can in New England.  Summer breezes give way to cool, crisp air.  Birds head south in flocks over the meadows.  Watch for hawks circling over the Camden Hills from our North Meadow.  The crunch of freshly fallen leaves lets the animals know you are there.  As the leaves fall, you can see much farther through the forest.

As winter’s blanket descends, cross-country ski or snowshoe through the meadows. The snow makes it easy to see animal tracks.  You can even  hear birds calling from a greater distance now that all the leaves have fallen.  Bundled up for the cold, you can enjoy the fresh air, clear blue skies and the quiet solitude that is nature. 

Trail Map

Merryspring Overview map

The Merry Spring

A circle of stones marks one of the many naturally occurring springs that dot the Merryspring property.  The park takes its name from this spring from which clean, fresh water flows continuously all year round.

Set upon a limestone dome, Merryspring’s surface is a permeable substrate through which ground water easily drains. After trickling through the earth, the water reaches an impermeable granite layer, where it begins to flow outward. When the water reaches the slopes of the dome, it emerges clean, clear, and filtered as a spring.

The land on which Merryspring now sits has been at times a quarry, a sawmill, a farm, and a homestead. When the back meadows were used as grazing land for sheep, this spring was used as a source of fresh, clean water for livestock and humans.  More springs can be found on the western side of the property.

The Interpretive Trail

Several points of interest are featured along the Interpretive Trail. Explore the Merry Spring, vernal pool, American Chestnut Foundation orchard, North Meadow, and more. An Interpretive Trail Guide can be found at the Ross Center.
The Merry Spring
A circle of stones marks one of the many naturally occurring springs that dot the Merryspring property. The park takes its name from this spring from which clean, fresh water flows continuously all year round.

Set upon a limestone dome, Merryspring’s surface is a permeable substrate through which ground water easily drains. After trickling through the earth, the water reaches an impermeable granite layer, where it begins to flow outward. When the water reaches the slopes of the dome, it emerges clean, clear, and filtered as a spring.

The land on which Merryspring now sits has been at times a quarry, a sawmill, a farm, and a homestead. When the back meadows were used as grazing land for sheep, this spring was used as a source of fresh, clean water for livestock and humans. More springs can be found on the western side of the property.

American Chestnut Restoration Orchard

This orchard of American Chestnut trees was planted in 1999 by the Maine Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation as part of its effort to restore these trees to the American landscape.

Once one of the most abundant and economically viable deciduous trees of the East Coast, the American Chestnut was almost completely wiped out by an invasive fungal pathogen from Europe and Asia, brought to North America in the 1920’s and 30’s.

The American Chestnut (Castanea dentate) stands apart from many other native trees with its distinctive foliage and fruit. The leaves are long and smooth with deep saw-tooth lobes. The spiny, green burrs that form in late summer drop and split open in fall, exposing sweet, edible nuts.

These American Chestnut trees have been cross-bred with a species of blight-resistant Chestnuts native to Asia. With each generation of seed produced from cross-bred trees, the newer trees are one-step closer to being resistant to the blight fungus, while retaining more and more characteristics of the original native American species. After planting, trees are eventually given the blight fungus in order to study their resistance to the pathogen.

For more information on this project, please visit www.me-acf.org.

The North Meadow

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Merryspring was a homestead site. Situated between Rockport and Camden, the area would have been suitable farmland close to the two commercial centers. What is known now as “old farm road,” a broad dirt path running from north to south on the property once connected the two communities. A rock wall bordering the road is made of stones displaced by plowing. Ancient apple trees once used for cider still flower in the spring, with many still producing fruit. An old cellar hole still exists where a house once stood. The four acres now referred to as the North Meadow were once a cleared grazing pasture before being repurposed as a lumber yard, and eventually set aside for Merryspring.

A long-term goal of Merryspring is to restore this meadow. Once a place abundant with bobolinks and other ground-nesting birds, the meadow is now overgrown with invasive weeds. A project is currently underway to restore habitat through mowing, seeding native grasses, and amending the soil. If the first test plot is successful in bringing back native grasses and wildlife, the same methods will be employed to the meadow on a larger scale.