0.4 mile easy, one way path along the Cobbossee Stream
Take a stroll, along a meandering stream side path, Harrison Avenue Nature Trail, hugging Cobbossee Stream and discover a sense of place, history, hidden wildlife, natural beauty and the wonder of finding home.
Visitors to the 14-acre Cobbossee Stream Conservation Area and the 15-acre City of Gardiner Harrison Avenue Nature Trail will enjoy an ~ 0.8 mile round trip hike along a stream-side trail. Kennebec Land Trust holds a conservation easement on the Cobbossee Stream Conservation Area, which is owned and managed by the City of Gardiner.
Brick walls, remnants of dams, and rusted pipes illustrate a time when Gardiner was a thriving industrial city powered by Cobbossee Stream. In just the year 1860, thirty-one businesses lined the lower stream using hydro-mechanical power to grind grain and produce sawn lumber, clapboards, brooms, boxes, doors, sashes, and other wood items. More than four hundred employees generated two million dollars in products.
The Harrison Avenue Nature trail showcases the spring migration of alewives and American eels which attracts ospreys, bald eagles, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, belted kingfishers, and gulls. Below the lowermost dam in the Cobbossee Stream Conservation Area, sea-run fish gather as water roars over granite blocks and birds cry as they fly, pivot and dive to drive away competitors while swallowing fish whole. In autumn, the migration is reversed. Birds reconvene to feed on out-migrating juvenile alewives and adult silver eels move downstream to the Kennebec, through the Gulf of Maine en-route to the Sargasso Sea off Bermuda to spawn.
Many species of birds migrate to and through the mature red oaks, eastern hemlocks, and early successional and wetland habitats on this conservation land. In 2019, unprecedented waves of warblers and other species filled streamside branches. In winter, the ice-free stream attracts common, hooded and red-breasted mergansers, black ducks, and mallards. The resident mammals, including deer, raccoons, and river otters, leave telltale signs of tracks and scat, and beavers leave partially chewed trees.
From downtown Gardiner, take Route 126 west toward the the Route 95 turnpike. About one mile from downtown, you will cross the New Mills Bridge. Take an immediate right onto Harrison Avenue (you’ll see a street sign for Andrews Street — Harrison is to its right). Access to the preserve is marked well with several signs along Harrison Ave. The best place to park is on a little pullout before the park. A kiosk marks the trail entrance; QR signs along the trail enable digital access to history and wildlife information.
View a google map of the trail: https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1xUpkgBG5hJ63jFrnKGV1AK9lvEQ