Paddling at Holt Pond Preserve in Bridgton
Paddling at Holt Pond Preserve in Bridgton, which is managed by the Lakes Environmental Association and is part of the Sebago Watershed. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)
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Discover glorious scenery and solitude off Grist Mill Road in Bridgton, where Holt Pond Preserve boasts a meandering 4-mile loop trail that’ll lure you through an impressive diversity of terrain.

You’ll wander through a forest thick with hemlock, birch, and pine, pass through swamp watched over by red maple, and follow the boardwalk across a rolling carpet of sphagnum moss to the Holt Pond Overlook. 

Holt Pond Preserve trail markings
Holt Pond Preserve trails are well-marked with white blazes and trail signs. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

In warmer months, you can take advantage of the hand-carry boat launch and set forth into the Muddy River, paddling through the lily pads to Holt Pond (note that the vegetation gets thick as the summer creeps on). In the winter, strap on the snowshoes for a mellow jaunt through a quiet, snow-covered landscape, looking for animal tracks. 

There are plenty of details to take note of, too. The pitcher plants, orchids, and swamp rose. The way the mat of sphagnum moss moves ever-so-gently as you traverse across the boardwalk. The way the late-day sun glows between the trees. 

Something you might not notice, but should know anyway: This sweet preserve is managed by the Lakes Environmental Association and is part of the Sebago Watershed, which is neat to know since one of every six Mainers (more than 200,000 people) get their drinking water from this watershed.

Holt Pond Preserve detail
Don’t forget to look down to see the interesting smaller details at Holt Pond Preserve. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

The Holt Pond Preserve encompasses 400 acres and is one of the last undeveloped water bodies in the Lake Region, which is why LEA sought to protect it. All that stunning greenery and those amiable waterways help create, filter, and sustain our water supply. (It’s also worth noting that a whole lot of local beer is made from that water. And we like that.)

The main loop trail is 4 miles and winds throughout the preserve and some private land (so it should go without saying: stay on the trail). It’s an easy-going and family-friendly walk. The trail is supremely well-marked with white blazes and trail signs, and there are lookouts at the Muddy River and Holt Pond. But you’ll be stopping to appreciate the views the whole way through. 

This is just the sort of place I like to bring my field guide and a day pack filled with snacks, so I can take the time to stop and look at everything, identify things I can’t name (which is most things, to be honest), and sit a while by the water to see the birds and wildlife that come my way. 

I encourage you to do the same. 

Freelance writer Shannon Bryan lives in South Portland and is the founder of fitmaine.com, where she writes about the coolest ways to be active and get outdoors in Maine.

Holt Pond Preserve map
The loop trail at Holt Pond Preserve in Bridgton is accessible and family friendly. (Portland Phoenix/Shannon Bryan)

Holt Pond Preserve

Parking and trailhead are off Grist Mill Road, Bridgton; 4-mile, family friendly loop trail. The hand-carry launch requires a trek from the parking area, so bring a cart if you have one. No dogs, but hunting and fishing are allowed, so wear blaze orange during hunting season.

FMI: https://bit.ly/3vzhTKm.