The Highland Research Forest is a 420-acre preserve in Bridgton, Maine and part of the headwaters for Highland Lake. The land was donated to LEA by the Hancock Family Foundation in 2016 and another 80 acres were added by the Hatch Family in 2018. Prior to any trails or groundwork, we worked with ecological consultant Dr. Rick Van de Poll to determine sensitive areas, areas of interest, and areas for further research. In 2018 and 2019 we laid out and installed trails, a small parking lot, and a privy. We then worked with local forester Paul Larrivee and Dr. Van de Poll to help set future goals and create a forest management plan for the parcel. Eventually, the research forest will become a place that offers visitors a glimpse into sustainable harvesting, the importance of a forested watershed, and a space for long-term research projects related to woods, wildlife, soil, and water.
In 2018-2019 we marked and cleared several trails across the preserve to access a large wetland and a trail to Highland Lake. With the help of grant funding and Dyer Excavation, we installed a parking lot and cement tank privy and built an outhouse with volunteer Jim Kelley and trail intern Addie Casali. This privy is lovingly maintained and restocked by volunteer Laura Cleveland; please help her out and make sure you clean up after yourself :). We hope you can visit the preserve soon and let us know what you think! We regularly hold walks and talks at the HRF and Holt Pond Preserve, so take a peek at our events schedule and come explore with us!
To see how the Highland Research Forest Trails connect to the existing network of cross-country ski trails click here for a beautiful map created by Steve Bushey!
To get to the Research Forest: We are pinned on Google Maps if you have access to that, and the parking area is on the left approximately a mile in on Summit Drive (if you hit a fork with mailboxes, you’ve gone too far!). Heading north on Rt. 117 from Bridgton, take a left onto Middle Ridge Road. At the crossroads (stop sign) stay straight to Upper Ridge Road (crossing Chadbourne Hill Road- traffic does not stop). Heading down a steep hill with a power line clearing you will take a left onto Summit Drive. Proceed a mile and the parking area is on the left.