The Wildlands were once targeted for subdivision, until the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust rescued 4,300 acres in one of the state’s largest acquisitions ever made by a local land trust. The result is a sizeable, multi-use tract that is ideal for biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and birding. Surveys have turned up whip-poor-will, northern saw-whet owl, ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and plenty of songbirds. Much of the timber was removed before acquisition, so the viewshed is extensive and the regrowth areas are productive and varied. This is a parcel that invites long bird walks to places with intriguing names like “Flying Moose Mountain” and “Hothole Pond.”
There are two sections. Hothole Valley is the larger at 3,420 acres. From the trailhead on Route 1, a gravel road runs through the center, with a number of foot trails leading from it. The Dead River Section is 875 wooded acres sandwiched between Great Pond Mountain and the Dead River Flowage. Choose the former for upland birds in dry habitat. Choose the latter for wetland birds, including those to be found in “Hellbottom Swamp.” Otters and beavers are among the possible sightings there, and moose may be encountered in either area.
Directions: From Route 1, access the Dead River Section via boat launch at Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery on Alamoosook Lake; or on foot from Don Fish Trail, 0.5 mi. past the Hatchery. The parking lot and trailhead for the Hothole Valley section is on Route 1, just west of the intersection with Route 176. There is also a North Gate on Bald Mountain Road in Dedham.
Orland, ME 04472
GPS: 44.568275, -68.631849