This 100-acre wildlife preserve was obtained by the City of Saco in 2007 under the Land for Saco's Future program. The sanctuary comprises a diverse confluence of ecological habitats including upland softwood and hardwood forest, marsh, stream, vernal pools, bog, and evidence of a pre-historic landslide. Five well-marked trails wind through the property's mixed woodland forest and provide views of Stackpole Creek.
In 2021, a geologist at Maine Geological Survey discovered evidence of a large landslide from the 15th century. The geologist used LIDAR and carbon dating of soil core samples to determine that the landslide blocked Stackpole Creek 500-600 years ago and transformed the area's topography and environment. Eventually, Stackpole Creek cut a path through the landslide creating the sand and gravel streambed and banks that can be seen from the Blue Heron Trail and Beaver Path.
Blue Heron Trail
The Blue Heron Trail, marked by blue blazes, is an out and back trail that begins at the parking lot. It is just over 1 mile through mixed mature woodlands to its terminus at a bench that overlooks a nice riffle and pool in Stackpole Creek. There are several overlooks with benches along this trail with views of the creek. From the terminus, retrace your steps to the large bridge to return to the parking lot or access other trails.
The Beaver Path, marked by white blazes, is 0.34 miles and begins after crossing the large trail bridge. This trail is a very pleasant walk along Stackpole Creek and has a memorial bench overlooking the creek. The trail ends at an intersection with the Red Maple Trail.
The short trails marked by yellow blazes, is a small series of shortcuts that connect to sections of the Blue Heron Trail and make for a shorter walk from the parking lot to the large trail bridge over Stackpole Creek.
Big Pine Trail
This trail, marked by green blazes, is a 0.5-miles long and begins just after crossing the large bridge. The trail immediately crosses over a series of bog bridges and proceeds through a stand of mature hemlock, balsam fir, and white pine trees. The trail travels along the outer edge (toe) of a prehistoric landslide and over a series of small hills that were side blocks created by the landslide. The trail meanders down through some bog bridging with a small bog just out of sight on the left. After the bog bridges, the Stone Bridge Trail leaves to the right, and the Big Pine Trail continues straight until the trail ends at the intersection with Beaver Path.
Red Maple Trail
The Red Maple Trail, marked by red blazes, is named for likely the largest red maple you will ever see. The trail is a 0.5-mile loop that climbs a gentle slope through the woods to the edge of an old field bordered by a barbed-wire fence. A short walk leads back into the woods where the very large red maple is located. The trail then descends through the woods to the edge of Stackpole Creek, and eventually reconnects to itself before rejoining the Big Pine Trail.
Stone Bridge Trail
This Trail is marked by yellow blazes, is a 0.75-mile long connector trail that leaves the Big Pine Trail and heads southwest towards Simpson Road. The trail starts on city property, but quickly crosses onto private land until its terminus at Simpson Road. The trail winds through a mixed woodland forest and crosses a couple of small creeks before exiting the woods onto a field. Please stay left on the edge of the field until you reach the Simpson Road.
Stone Bridge Trail Rules
The Stone Bridge Trail is privately owned. Please respect these rules so we can continue to offer public access:
Closed March 15 - May 1
No Parking on Simpson Road
Groups limited to 4 adults and their children
Pets must be on a leash
Remove any dog waste or other trash
Do not pick wildflowers. Children may collect acorns, pinecones, and other materials
Camp or school groups need advanced permission
Horton Woods to the River Hike
Trail users can link the trail networks of Horton Woods, the Stone Bridge Trail, and the Mary Merrill trail to create a longer hike from the Horton Woods parking lot on Rt 112 to the Saco River. This hike will be at least 1.9 miles one-way and takes about an hour.