The Sawyer Mountain Highlands rise more than one thousand feet over the floodplains of the Saco, Ossipee, and Little Ossipee rivers, supporting a diverse array of natural features. High ledges offer views out to Casco Bay and the White Mountains.
For more than a decade, the Francis Small Heritage Trust (FSHT) has worked to conserve the natural core of this mountainous region. A Land for Maine’s Future program grant enabled FSHT to purchase 227 acres on Sawyer Mountain, which it matched with the value of a donated 73-acre parcel. FSHT already owned 711 acres nearby, much of it acquired with private foundation support.
The 2.5-mile-long interconnected block of highlands is part of the largest unbroken forested tract south of Sebago Lake and the Ossipee River, an area big enough to sustain species like black bear, bobcat and fisher. Sawyer Mountain has a large deer-wintering area, and streams that support Brook trout and Atlantic salmon. Several rare plant species, one endangered plant community, and an “exemplary” natural community have been documented in the area.
Situated within an hour’s drive of Portland, this area is experiencing intense development. Population rates in Limerick and Limington are growing at 4-5 times the state average. Consequently, many area residents recognize the value of the natural oasis surrounding Sawyer Mountain. One long-time Cornish resident wrote to the LMF Program that “families of Maine’s future will need to experience this great piece of tranquil majesty for health, peace of mind and inspiration….”
Currently, visitors can enjoy four miles of hiking and snowmobile trails that cross the highlands. The Trust plans to conserve a total of 2,000 acres, creating a greenbelt stretching from the New Hampshire border to Sebago Lake that links existing conservation lands (e.g., the 8,603-acreLeavitt Plantation Forest, Waterboro Barrens, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) 3,954-acre Vernon Walker Reserve, and three IF&W Management Areas—4,910-acre Steep Falls, 1,139-acre Little Ossipee River and 600-acre Killick Pond.
Southern Maine – York, Cumberland
Directions from nearest town
DeLorme Maine Atlas and Gazetteer Map 4, E-4. The Route 117 trailhead is located at a sharp turn in the highway and is marked by a sign with a map box. The right hand hiking trail is the discontinued Sawyer Mountain Road. This point is 2.5 miles south of the the Route 117/Route 25 junction and 2.4 miles north of the Route 117/Route 11 junction. Alternatively, from Limerick, take Emery’s Corner Road to the Sawyer Mountain Road. The road is only maintained to the last house and rapidly becomes impassable by vehicle.