There’s a scenic gem sitting just beyond an unassuming trailhead off Buxton Road in Saco. I didn’t fully appreciated what a stunner Saco Heath is until I finally visited for myself. And wow, this is one splendid place.
This 1,223-acre preserve includes woodland areas and a raised coalesced bog (“Saco Heath formed when two adjacent ponds filled with decaying plant material called peat. Eventually, the two ponds filled completely and grew together to form a raised coalesced bog, where the surface of the peat is perched above the level of the groundwater.” – via Nature.org)
You and I would likely sink up to our knees in bog water and peat if we went exploring here decades ago, before the first boardwalk was built. In recent years, that boardwalk was rebuilt again, this time with wonderfully mismatched planks that seem to extend on into forever. The boardwalk reminds me of the rainbow bridge we used to walk across at Girl Scout camp (and it inspires a similar sense of adventure).
The 1-mile trail begins in the woods before the boardwalk begins, winding its way through the trees until the views open up in the bog and the boardwalk can shoot out straight ahead. It’s mostly flat the whole way, making this trek an easy walk/hike for folks who want to take in the Maine outdoors in leisurely fashion.
It’s also great for slow joggers like me. The scenery does a fine job of distracting me from all the panting I typically do and it’s only about 2.1 miles out and back, which is long enough to make it a worthwhile run, but short enough to be doable.
The boardwalk ends in a wooded area, where there’s a short loop trail that leads back to the boardwalk. There are a few short lookout trails, too.
No dogs are allowed on the trail (so sorry, pooches of Maine) and the trail is free to use between sunrise and sunset. The trailhead is on Route 112 (Buxton Road) about 2 miles northwest of Main Street, Saco.
For more details and a map, see Saco Heath Preserve on mainetrailrinder.com