Trailblazers: Scarborough Land Trust starts work on Pleasant Hill loop

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SCARBOROUGH — On a sunny, warm Monday afternoon, with the sound of birds above, a handful of volunteers armed with a machete, weed wackers, saws and a lopper worked to transform a wooded area at Pleasant Hill into a recreational trail.

Work on the Scarborough Land Trust’s latest trail is well underway, and volunteers are needed three times a week to blaze through woods and meadows and build boardwalks.

In December 2014, the trust purchased 135 acres of land it calls the Pleasant Hill Preserve. Now under construction is a 1.25-mile loop through the preserve, which will replace some temporary trails.

Toby Jacobs, stewardship coordinator at the land trust, said the new trail will be a natural surface that will range from mown grass to a dirt path through the forest.

Jacobs said the trail will have expansive views and more than half will be through the fields to emphasize views of the preserve. There is a large diversity of plant life, from ferns and irises to such wildflowers as asters, buttercups, and daisies.

The trail will have four boardwalks, one of which will contain a bridge.

Jacobs said the hope is, by mid-August, the trail will be cleared and all the boardwalks will be decked over. From there, preservationists will set out to eradicate invasive species found throughout the preserve, including multiflora rose, autumn olive, Japanese knotweed and barberry.

Volunteer Susie Williams of Scarborough, who likes to visit land trust lands throughout the state, said building trails was always something she wanted to do. Now that she is retired she has the time to do it.

“I love being outdoors,” Williams said. “(Building trails provides) good exercise, peace of mind, a sense of community, and an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”

The land trust is holding three weekly volunteer parties: on Sundays from 10 a.m-noon; Mondays 4 p.m.-dark and Thursdays 9-11 a.m. The trust will provide all training and tools, but asks residents to bring work gloves and wear sturdy shoes.

To volunteer, contact Jacobs at or 844-0114, or meet at the kiosk by the parking lot.

“There are some amazing places on this preserve, and we are eager to build the next phase of trails,” Executive Director Kathy Mills said.  “Our volunteer work parties are a great way for people to get outside and to help out on an exciting community project.”

The trust completed a nearly 0.4-mile universal access trail, called Eleanor’s Trail,  last December.

Other land trust properties include Libby River Farm Preserve, Pleasant Hill Preserve, Warren Woods, Sewell Woods, Fuller Farm Preserve and Broadturn Farm.

Steve Underwood of Cape Elizabeth, a former Pleasant Hill resident for 24 years, now volunteers to build trails on the land.

“It’s nice to participate in something that is evolving and green. It is relaxing and a good way of getting away from the computer screen,” Underwood said. “Playing in the woods and fields is a good way to de-stress.”

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter@melaniesochan.

Steve Underwood of Cape Elizabeth helps build a trail Monday, June 26, at the Pleasant Hill Preserve in Scarborough.

Irises bloom at Pleasant Hill Preserve.

Toby Jacobs, stewardship coordinator at the Scarborough Land Trust, walks through a new trail that volunteers and the land trust are building at the Pleasant Hill Preserve. Jacobs said he believes the large rocks were part of a previous farming operation on the land.