The Cathance River Nature Preserve is one of the more popular trail networks in the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust portfolio. Located within the Highland Green retirement community, this is a 230 acre conservation easement with over 8,000 feet of frontage on the Cathance River. The frontage ranges from tranquil, slow-flowing sections to fairly dramatic rapids. In the spring, whitewater kayakers will frequently be seen coming down the river.
A few hundred yards from the trailhead, there is a large post and beam barn that was relocated and reconstructed on-site from a farm in New York. This houses the Cathance River Ecological Alliance (CREA) Ecological Center. Open every Sunday from 12-2, the center has many animals, pelts, tracks, etc. on display. It is a great way to spend a few minutes before or after a hike. I highly recommend trying to time your outing around the availability of the ecological center. However, even peeking in the windows is fun.
The trail network itself offers about 4 miles of hiking west of the Clay Brook Bridge. This Bridge divides the preserve into the east and west sections. The eastern section is part of the Head of Tide Park and is dog-friendly. Dogs are not permitted west of Clay Brook Bridge. The network is comprised of about 1.5 miles along the river and several more trails around the Heath Fen and a small pond that is great for viewing frogs!
This is a great hike that can be done in its entirety in about 1 or two hours and never seems to be too busy. It can be accessed in all seasons. The network is especially quiet in the winter and provides a great opportunity to view animal tracks in the snow, which will be there before we know it.