It’s like a postcard in there!

Between the connector trails lined with birch trees, the rolling river trail and the evergreens draped with puffs of snow, Cathance River Preserve in Topsham is about as idyllic as it gets. (I hear it’s a great place to hike/trail run in the warmer months, too.)

On the Beaver Trail at Cathance River Preserve in Topsham. Shannon Bryan photo

The preserve is located in Highland Green Village – an active adult retirement community – so if you find yourself driving along the wide streets of a well-manicured neighborhood wondering if you’re in the right place, you’re in the right place.

Trailhead parking is on Evergreen Circle, just past Junco Drive (the Cathance River Education Alliance has wonderfully detailed directions) and there’s room for a handful of cars (that said, parking can be tight, so carpooling is always encouraged).

The trailhead toward the Cathance River Trail and Ecology Center, just to the left of the parking area. Shannon Bryan photos

And then there are those trails – about 5.6 miles of easy-to-moderate terrain. The connector trails make it easy to craft a snowshoe excursion that’s just as long or short as you’d like.

Cathance River Preserve trail map. These are posted throughout the trails. Shannon Bryan photo

We started on the Vernal Pool Trail, took a left onto the Highland Trail, and then followed the river, stopping repeatedly to gawk at the water and stare up into the trees. The trails are really well marked here, but all that gawking can easily turn a 30-minute trek into a 2-hour one. So be warned! You will want to stop and stare.

There’s no shame in taking a leisurely break by the Cathance River.

Chilling out on chairs perfectly situated with river views. Photo courtesy Anup Aryal

Or testing your balance on a footbridge.

Balancing act at Cathance River Preserve. Shannon Bryan photo

If you happen to be at the preserve on a Sunday afternoon, check out the Ecology Center, which is open on Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. The center includes a multipurpose meeting room and was built using unique “green” features (like insulation made from 80% recycled blue jeans). They also have snowshoes to lend during open hours, if you don’t own a pair of your own.

Cathance River Preserve Ecology Center. Shannon Bryan photo

And if you’d like to top your snowshoeing adventure off with a beer, head over to the super-sweet tasting room of Flight Deck Brewing in nearby Brunswick (11 Atlantic Ave/Brunswick Landing). It’s only a 15-minute drive from the Cathance River Preserve trailhead.

Flight Deck Brewing in Brunswick. Shannon Bryan photos

The space doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside, it’s fantastic. Order a flight (I recommend Cinnamon Sky as an excellent post-snowshoe winter beer), grab a seat, and relax.

You can bring your own food – and on most Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, B.B’s Grill Food Truck is on site serving up BBQ.

Anup and Mary Grace enjoying some post-snowshoe Flight Deck beer. Shannon Bryan photo

Between the winter wonderland that is Cathance and the option to swing into Flight Deck for a beer, this is a winning snowshoe + brews combination.

Snowshoe at Cathance River Preserve

Check out the trails at Cathance River Preserve in Topsham. 5.6 miles of easy-to-moderate trails.
Trailhead is on Evergreen Circle, Topsham, inside Highland Green Village. Directions
No fees to snowshoe or hike here. No dogs.
The Cathance River Ecology Center is open on Sundays from 12-2 p.m. and has snowshoes to lend.


Cathance River Preserve trail map. Download the trail map.