The Horton Woods bridge over Stackpole Creek was replaced by Saco Bay Trails in 2020. Courtesy photo

SACO — Often unnoticed by busy travelers on Saco’s North Street/Route 112 corridor, Horton Woods offers an alluring sanctuary for all who pause to discover it. Within the boundaries of this wildlife preserve — obtained in 2007 by the City of Saco under the Lands for Saco’s Future program — is a network of some three miles of hiking trails that wind through a remarkably diverse confluence of ecological habitats. Hikers, dog-walkers, bird-watchers, and nature lovers will find both upland softwood and hardwood forests, marshes, a flowing stream, vernal pools, wildlife, and more.

Visitors can find Horton Woods by taking North Street (which becomes Buxton Road/Route 112) 5.9 miles northwest of Main Street in Saco. A dirt driveway at 464 Buxton Road leads to a parking lot and trailhead kiosk. Trails are clearly marked by colored blazes and accessible year-round. Leashed dogs are permitted.

The Horton Woods trail system begins at the kiosk with the Blue Heron Trail. This trail passes through mature woodlands and ends at an overlook surveying Stackpole Creek. From this trail, a large bridge constructed by the Saco Bay Trails organization provides access to the Big Pine Trail, the Red Maple Trail, and the Beaver Path. These pathways meander through stands of balsam, hemlock and pine woods, pass by bogs, and rise up and down over small hills created by a 15th-century landslide. Hikers can explore a variety of wildlife environments; deer, turtles, beavers, and a variety of birds often are observed.

Hikers in Horton Woods can extend their journeys by following the Stone Bridge Trail, a 0.75-mile long connector that extends from the Big Pine Trail southwest towards Simpson Road. The trail starts on Saco city property, and crosses onto private land as it winds through a mixed woodland forest and crosses a couple of small creeks until it ultimately terminates at Simpson Road. This trail is closed March 15 – May 1.

The trails in Horton Woods are maintained by Saco Bay Trails, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that works cooperatively with private landowners, community and commercial organizations, and government agencies. Outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to explore all the nearly 12 miles of the SBT trail network, and to join and support SBT. For maps and further information about Horton Woods and Saco Bay Trails organization, visit: and “Saco Bay Trails” on Facebook.

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