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. I first saw it coming to life in the spring a few years ago, and then again more recently on a late-summer evening. I can’t wait to see it with fall colors, too.

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

Saco Heath Saco Maine
The boardwalk at Saco Heath, comprised of colorful boards, seems to go on forever, doesn’t it? Upper right: Saco Heath trailhead sign. Lower right: the wooded trail leading to the boardwalk. Shannon Bryan photos

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 trail starts in the woods, then the boardwalk begins. Shannon Bryan photo

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 – the scenery does a fine job of distracting you from all the panting 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. But simply wandering is excellent, too.

My mom looking at lichen on a tree during a late-summer visit to Saco Heath. Shannon Bryan photo
Looking down into the bog. (The mucky shoes are from a mud puddle elsewhere earlier in the day). Shannon Bryan photo
Looking down into the bog. (The muck on my shoes – a sign of spring in Maine.) Shannon Bryan photo
So many things to look at! The sun sets on Saco Heath in the summer. Shannon Bryan photo
Pitcher plants! Shannon Bryan photo
Looking out across the bog. Shannon Bryan photo
Looking out across the bog. Shannon Bryan photo

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.

Webs galore. Shannon Bryan photo
Walking the woodsy loop at Saco Heath Preserve. Shannon Bryan photo

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.

Saco Heath

Buxton Road, Saco. Directions.
The Saco Heath Preserve is a 1,233-acre preserve managed by The Nature Conservancy, featuring a 1-mile trail and boardwalk.
Open daily, sunrise to sunset