Winter hikes are my favorite. Each season certainly has its charms, but I’ll take winter hiking any time. There are no bugs and the landscape is magical when coated in white.
We headed to the Cathance River Trail in Topsham this past Saturday. After arriving at the trail, we sat at a bench near the entrance to put on our Stabilicers in anticipation of icy trails. As I was adjusting my crampon straps, a father walked out of the trail entrance carrying his young son who had taken a minor sledding spill on the slick trails. The boy’s nose was bleeding, but he had a big smile. After glancing at us, the father commented “You came prepared.” It was going to be an icy one.
We headed onto the trail and after a short distance walking on an access road, we came to the Cathance River Ecology Center. We ran into a volunteer who was working on the grounds and he offered to show us the center where they provide educational classes to local school children. It is stocked with a variety of educational materials for their training sessions including taxidermied animals representative of those you can find on their trials. The building itself is fully sustainable. He clearly had a fondness for the preserve, and helped guide us as to the best trails to use.
After a short hike through the woods, the trail reaches the river and opens onto stunning views. With the snow, and winter cold, working her wonders, the river’s edge was full of beautiful ice formations and unique imagery.
One of my favorite formations was of a tall, thin tree, almost completely gnawed at the base by some industrious beaver. It was still standing, albeit with a bit of a lean, positioned on top a snowy base with icicles all around making it look like a crown. The icicle formations throughout the hike were amazing. It was so stunning, that in the end we stopped so often to admire each new view, that it became more of a stroll than a hike.
The overall trail was only a few miles. The trail is a large loop with the majority of it running parallel to the river. It was moderate with a few mild inclines. The trails were well maintained and the trail markers extremely easy to spot through the sparse winter forest.
It is one of the prettiest hikes we have done, with each new bend of the trail showing yet another beautiful vista. It was mother nature at her best.
|things to know|
|Place||Cathance River Trail|
|Address||99 Honey Locust Drive, Topsham, ME 04086|
|Website||Cathance River Education Alliance|
|Favorite ♥||Winter Wonderland|