Holt Pond Preserve is a 4.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Bridgton, Maine that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
cross country skiing
This unique trail system allows visitors to enjoy a variety of wetland and upland habitats in the Holt Pond Nature Preserve. Starting at the parking area off Grist Mill Road, the path takes you through a mixed forest of birch, beech, hemlock, and pine. You cross over a stone wall into a red maple swamp. In the spring, listen for the sounds of returning neo-tropical migrant birds and in the winter, look for the flitting silhouettes of chickadees shivering for warmth. Leaving the red maple swamp you find yourself on one of the several hummocks in the preserve, a nutrient rich glacial deposit where hemlocks have taken root. Venturing out to the Muddy River, a ripple in the water and a loud splash indicates the presence of a territorial beaver. Returning to the trail, you eventually make your way to the place where plants eat insects, moose wallow in the muddy waters, and minks scurry about looking for fish: the Holt Pond Overlook. The Holt Pond Overlook boardwalk crosses over a quaking mat of sphagnum moss. If you bend your knees twice, you will see a slight quaking motion at the end of the boardwalk. This is because the sphagnum moss is floating, colonizing the open water in front of you. The quaking bog is home to pitcher plants, orchids, leatherleaf, swamp rose, and many other unique plants, as it is one of the most diverse natural communities at Holt Pond. Pause at the end of the boardwalk and appreciate the beauty of this spot in every season, when migrant ducks swim about, water lilies dot the surface, reflected red, yellow, orange, and brown leaves shine in the depths, or snow and ice insulate the vibrant life underneath. After the Holt Pond outlook, the trails heads back into a hemlock grove, through red maple low lands and then up to within sight of Grist Mill Road. The trails continues over more dry woodland before returning to a boardwalk through red maple swamp and eventually to another trail head on the Knapp Road off of Fosterville Road. The trail then continues along the south shore of Holt Pond which is dryer but less used then other trail sections. The trail then jogs further south before returning to the pond and then out to Chaplins Mill Road. After walking about 1000 feet on the road, take a left through an old hay field to join back up with the trail for its last leg as it follows the Muddy River. An additional trail leg heads north up and over Grist Mill Road to rocky formations on Byron's Hill.