Location and Description:
Location: Hallowell, Maine
Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead is a nonprofit nature preserve, house museum, and education center. The Woods are protected through a conservation easement held by the Kennebec Land Trust, and the Homestead is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Homestead offers art, nature, and history programs throughout the year. The grounds surrounding the house are open when programs are in session. Unscheduled visits are prohibited at all other times.
For more information and a list of upcoming programs and opportunities to visit the Homestead see vaughanhomestead.org.
Directions: In Hallowell, take Water St to Winthrop St. From Winthrop St take the third left onto Middle St. After 0.7 miles, at the intersection of the Litchfield Rd, there is a small parking lot and an informational kiosk. In Farmingdale, the trail begins behind the Hall-Dale High School tennis courts.
Usage and Trails:
Allowable Uses: Open Daily Dawn to Dusk. No motorized vehicles, smoking, fires, collecting, camping, bicycles, or hunting. Please minimize impact, leash your dogs, carry out all waste, limit your group size to 15, and register all groups.
Corniche Trail & The Loop: 2 miles total (from the Hallowell trailhead to the Driving Bridge: ½ mile round-trip, Loop: 1.5 miles)
When this carriage trail was built in 1911, the Vaughans named it “The Corniche,” which is French for “road on a cliff.” It was designed to carry a horse and carriage, then later a car, down along the hillside, across the Driving Bridge (1909), and up to the rustic Tea House gazebo, which stood for over 40 years. Uncle Sam’s Bridge (1900) was the first of the stone bridges built and was once the Vaughans’ only means of crossing the brook. The Stickney and Page Dam was constructed in 1871 to create a reservoir that could supply a constant flow of water to the factories below. Ice was harvested on Cascade Pond for many years, and in the 1930s the Vaughans maintained a swimming beach there for local children. Memorial Bridge, across the pond, was commissioned by the Vaughans in 1905 and given to the City and then to the State.
Brook Trail: Less than ½ mile, steep and rough in places
This rustic trail runs along the northern bank of Vaughan Brook, also known as Bombahook Brook, and is accessible from both the upper and lower ends of the Corniche Trail. Vaughan family lore holds that Louis Philippe, who later became the King of France, visited Hallowell in the early 1800s and was rescued from drowning while fishing in a pool along the brook. The High Arch Bridge was inspired by a bridge over a waterfall in Ireland; it was constructed in 1930 from the stones of the Wire Mill Dam that once stood in its place
Rice Pines Trail: ½ mile, rough in places
This rustic trail runs above the southern bank of the brook and behind the eastern side of the pasture, where it eventually links up with the Corniche Loop. It is named for the pines on its eastern end and the family who once owned the land they stand on. The Lower Rice Pines trail is a steep spur that connects to the High Arch Bridge and the upper Brook Trail.
Note: Be sure to check for ticks after walking through the field.
Parking: There is ample space behind the tennis courts at Hall-Dale High School off Maple St available through the summer and on weekends. Additionally, there is a small pull-off at the intersection of Litchfield Rd and Middle St.
Please be aware that Vaughan Woods is a very popular preserve and frequently the northern entrance parking area is full. Please obey all parking signs; Hallowell police do take notice.
If you are looking for less-crowded natural areas, here’s a short list of some nearby locations: Effie L. Berry/Howard Hill; Hutchinson Pond Conservation Area; Augusta Nature Center; Gannett Woods; & Reynolds Forest. Feel free to call the KLT office with questions, 207-377-2848.
After discovering good trade with the local Abenaki Indians, the Plymouth Colony received a patent for the land including the current Vaughan Woods. After trade decreased, this was sold to Benjamin Hallowell, a prominent Boston investor in 1661, and later settled by his grandson Charles Vaughn in 1791. Charles’ older brother, Benjamin Vaughn, transformed the Vaughn Homestead property into an agricultural showplace. He was a man of national importance, as he was a confidant of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and drew many famous visitors to the Vaughan homestead, such as John James Audubon and Daniel Webster. In 1991, Diana Gibson, a seventh generation descendent of Benjamin Hallowell, and her husband George placed a conservation easement on the land through the Kennebec Land Trust, thus ensuring the woods will be protected from development and open to the public forever.