Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary
Only one mile from the bustling downtown of Freeport, Maine, Mast Landing is 101 acres of diverse habitat rich in human and natural history. It is located along the Harraseeket River estuary.
More than three miles of trails wind along a stream and tidal marsh and through orchard, fields, and forest. Well-used by visitors, they are ideal for hiking and cross-country skiing.
Ridge Trail (1.6 miles): Access all sanctuary trails from the Ridge Trail, which begins at the kiosk in the parking lot. You also can reach the Ridge Trail from Link Trail 1, off the service road. The Ridge Trail winds through most types of habitat in the sanctuary, as well as past an old dam site and the historic mill-master’s house, now a private residence for sanctuary caretakers.
Orchard and Deer Run Trails (0.5 miles): The Orchard Trail branches from the Ridge Trail soon after the Ridge Trail entrance at the parking lot. It leads to the Deer Run Trail, which rejoins the Ridge Trail. These trails pass through orchard, former farm fields, and mixed coniferous forest of pine, hemlock, and fir.
Mill Stream Trail (0.3 miles): Branching off from the Ridge Trail/service road at the dam site 0.3 miles southeast of the parking lot, the Mill Stream Trail follows the stream through riparian (river) habitat and overlooks the maple swamp before meeting back up with the Ridge Trail.
Bench Loop Trail (0.25 miles): The Bench Loop Trail branches off from the Ridge Trail 0.8 miles north of the parking lot and features the best views of a hemlock ravine.
Estuary Trail (0.4 miles): Beginning and ending at the Ridge Trail/service road, the Estuary Trail, which is steep in places, takes you through field-grown white pines to the point over-looking the estuary.
Wildlife & Habitat
Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary features open fields, apple orchards, alder lowland, and mature white-pine and hemlock forest. Mill Stream cascades over a historic dam and mill site before flowing into the tidal waters of the Harraseeket River.
The sanctuary attracts migrant shorebirds and songbirds. In the springtime, it is a wonderful place to observe the courtship flight displays of nesting Woodcocks. Resident mammals are typical of southern Maine woodlands – Mink, Snowshoe Hare, Porcupine, Raccoon, White-tailed Deer, Coyote. Avian wildlife include Great Blue Heron, Broad-winged Hawk, and Hairy Woodpecker. A small pond is home to frogs and muskrat, and the sanctuary’s gardens and plantings attract scores of butterflies and dragonflies.
The name “Mast Landing” dates to the early 1700s when the British navy sought ship masts made from massive white pines then common to southern Maine forests. Loggers hauled to a nearby ship landing the trees they felled and trimmed on what is now sanctuary land.
The sanctuary’s Mill Stream once powered a saw mill, a textile mill, two grist mills, and a woodworking shop. Destroyed by fire in the early 1860s, the mills and shop were not rebuilt, and their foundations are visible where Mill Stream flows into the estuary. In 1795, mill master Abner Dennison built the house that still overlooks the stream and estuary, and is a private residence for sanctuary caretakers. Up until the middle of the twentieth century, stock grazed on cleared land within the sanctuary, much of which has since reverted to forest.
In 1962, Maine Audubon founded Mast Landing Audubon Sanctuary on land donated by the L.M.C. Smith family. The family’s commitment to conservation helped protect much of Freeport’s shore land.
- Take exit 22 to merge onto ME-125 S/ME-136 S/Mallet Dr toward Freeport
- Turn right onto Main St
- In about .2 mile turn left onto Bow St
- After about 1 mile turn left onto Upper Mast Landing Rd
- The turn-in is about .2 mile up the road on your right. Parking is to the left.