Go ahead. Venture up Route 302 from Portland. Go through Westbrook, past the North Windham shops and stunning view at the boat launch in Raymond, then continue through Casco. Ease through the Causeway in Naples, then keep an eye out for Perley Road on your left in less than three miles.

Just like that, you are minutes from the Holt Pond Preserve, a shining example of Maine’s beauty, thanks to the Lakes Environmental Association, in partnership with the Loon Echo Land Trust.

Go down Perley Road and take a right (actually, kinda straight) onto the dirt Grist Mill Road at the intersection with Chaplins Mill Road. About three-tenths of a mile ahead is the trailhead. It’s a loop trail of five or six miles – a few ups and downs but no gasp-inducing climbs.

So many birds, a novice watcher/listener can be overwhelmed. Plus frogs, beavers, deer and maybe even a possum or two.

Going counterclockwise is suggested, leaving the best for last. You pass the boat launch and head down the trail with the river at your right, soon coming to a small landing with a beaver dam. From there it’s up a small hill and through a field to a short stretch along Chaplins Mill Road. A sign leads you back to the trail within 10 or 15 minutes and a serene walk through woods.

The pond soon comes back into view, and after passing a turn to Bald Pate via Town Farm Brook trail, the trail is soon paved with wooden boardwalks through some of the more swampy areas. Of course, there are plenty of bugs … but remember this is a bird sanctuary and that’s a good thing. Nothing good bug spray can’t combat.

The boardwalk leading to the pond is the highlight. If the water is high, your boots will get a bit wet. But looking out on the pond and hearing the symphony of birds, a little squish is not a big concern.

It’s a short jaunt back, and a hike to savor.

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