On the southern Maine coast, where tourist development reigns supreme, any preservation of open space is well worth celebrating. No wonder, then, that the newly opened Highland Farm Preserve has become such a draw for visitors and locals alike.
The preserve's open fields seek to attract rare New England Cottontail rabbits — Photo courtesy of Mark Pechenik
This 151-acre preserve, located along scenic Route 91 in York, is a prime example of southern Maine’s diverse shoreline habitat. Visitors are initially struck by the wide, expansive fields with their towering thickets of wild grasses near the preserve’s entrance. This is not due to lack of maintenance on behalf of the York Land Trust (owners of the property). Instead, this is a planned habitat to help support the return of New England cottontail rabbits, a locally endangered species.
Several trails lead to lush upland forests — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikSoon, however, visitors find themselves making a gentle ascent along upland trails which enter a shady, forested region dominated by oak, pine and oak hickory trees. Along the way, you pass rocky outcroppings and dramatic boulder configurations, signs of the glacial assault upon the region during the last Ice Age. The trails are well marked and have been developed to provide exposure to the property’s diverse habitats for walkers and hikers.
In addition, the preserve’s trail system includes the region’s first Americans with Disability Act-universally accessible trail. In addition to offering a 1- to 3-hour easy to moderate hike, the Highland Preserve is an excellent destination for cross country skiers and snowshoeing enthusiasts during the winter months.