From the highest points in the Kennebec Highlands, a 6,400-acre expanse of wooded hills and wetlands just north of Augusta, one can see to the White Mountains, Mt. Katahdin, and the Camden Hills. Foreground views encompass the Belgrade Lakes and vast stretches of contiguous forest land – broken only by an occasional blueberry field, marsh, or stream. This extensive open space supports many species including moose, bear, coyote, bobcat, and fox. Lying at the heart of central Maine, the Kennebec Highlands offers an array of backcountry activities within 15 miles of Augusta, Waterville, Skowhegan and Farmington. Until this land was protected, residents in this part of Maine had to travel considerable distances to gain access to extensive public recreation lands. Now the Kennebec Highlands provides five undeveloped ponds (a resource highly valued by anglers in central Maine) and more than half a mile of frontage along Long Pond. More than 18 miles of old logging roads and informal trails traverse the Highlands, providing hikers, mountain-bikers, horseback riders, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers with opportunities for extended outings. Plans are underway for picnicking areas, a system of remote campsites, and an Environmental Education and Visitors Center (located on Long Pond).
The Kennebec Highlands will be a wonderful natural laboratory for area schoolchildren and students from Bates, Unity and Colby Colleges and the University of Maine at Farmington. The effort to protect this exceptional preserve began in 1999 just as pressures from encroaching development were beginning to fragment large land tracts in the area. The Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) raised the local match needed to receive a generous grant from the Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) program. In the intervening years, with help from another LMF grant, BRCA has met its goal of protecting the entirety of the Kennebec Highlands, and is now working with the Maine Department of Conservation to improve public access opportunities.
Bird & other wildlife watching, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog walking (on leash), horseback riding, hunting, fishing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking
Central Maine Lakes District – Kennebec, Androscoggin
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 20, E-2 and D/E-3. To the Round Top and Sanders Hill Trails: from Rome Corner (the intersection of Routes 27 and 225), travel north 1 mile on Route 27 to the Watson Pond Road. Turn left and go 1.5 miles to the Sanders Hill trailhead (on the right) or 4.5 miles to the Round Top trailhead (also on the right). Trail maps and specific directions to other portions of the project can be obtained from the 7 Lakes Alliance office (207-495-6039). From the village of Belgrade Lakes, paddlers can canoe directly across the pond to a picnic site, then set off to explore the Highlands. Please note: a formal trail system with maintained trails, signs and maps is being created, but is not yet complete.