Donate and Join LEA Today!

Highland Research Forest

It’s hunting season! Please wear your blaze orange while in the woods!

The Highland Research Forest is a 400-acre preserve in Bridgton, Maine and part of the headwaters for Highland Lake. The land was donated to LEA by the Hancock Family Foundation in 2016 and another 80 acres was added by the Hatch Family in 2018. Prior to any trails or groundwork, we worked with ecological consultant Dr. Rick Van de Poll to determine sensitive areas, areas of interest, and areas for further research. For a species list please contact In 2018 and 2019 we laid out and installed trails, a small parking lot, and a privy. We are now working with local forester Paul Larrivee and Dr. Van de Poll to  help set future goals and create a forest management plan for the parcel. Eventually the research forest will become a place that offers visitors a glimpse into sustainable harvesting, the importance of a forested watershed, and a space for long-term research projects related to woods, wildlife, soil, and water. Please note: hunting and fishing ARE allowed in the research forest. Please plan accordingly during hunting season and ensure you wear 2 articles of blaze orange while in the woods. 

The Highland Research Forest has an amazing wetland complex to explore!

In 2018-2019 we marked and cleared several trails across the preserve to access a large wetland and a trail to Highland Lake. With the help from grant funding and Dyer Excavation, we installed a parking lot and cement tank privy and built an outhouse with volunteer Jim Kelley and trail intern Addie Casali. This privy is lovingly maintained and restocked by volunteer Laura Cleveland; please help her out and make sure you clean up after yourself :). We hope you can visit the preserve soon and let us know what you think! We regularly hold walks and talks at the HRF and Holt Pond Preserve, so take a peek at our events schedule and come explore with us!

During 2020-2021, local legend Roger Lowell extended his incredible network of cross country ski trails with help from several intrepid and hard-working volunteers to include loops at the Research Forest, and he built a new beautiful bridge over Carsley Brook. The updated map is below.

Please click the map to download a pdf of the trail system.

Also, if you’re curious how this all connects to the rest of the ski trails, click here for Roger’s map! 

To get to the Research Forest: We are pinned on Google Maps if you have access to that, and the parking area is on the left approximately a mile in on Summit Drive (if you hit a fork with mailboxes you’ve gone too far!). Heading north on Rt. 117 from Bridgton, take a left onto Middle Ridge Road. At the crossroads (stop sign) stay straight to Upper Ridge Road (crossing Chadbourne Hill Road- traffic does not stop). Heading down a steep hill with a power line clearing you will take a left onto Summit Drive. Proceed a mile and the parking area is on the left. 

[mc4wp_form id="2536"]