The Grafton Forest Wilderness Preserve project is comprised of two parcels totaling 6,045 acres of fee lands over which the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust will acquire a forever wild conservation easement to ensure permanent protection of this landscape. Northeast Wilderness Trust acquired the land in early 2022, when Forest Society of Maine put an adjacent 15,000 acres under a working forest conservation easement. This project will be completed in early 2023.
The South Tract of the Preserve lies along a southwest-to-northeast axis along one of the most renowned sections of the entire Appalachian Trail and contains portions of the Speck Pond Trail. This parcel will provide much needed protection for the trail by ensuring that the high-elevation forest is permanently protected as forever wild in one of Maine’s most ecologically significant landscapes. Without this protection, a stretch of the A.T. that meanders out of Grafton Notch State Park could be at risk of being closed. This conservation easement to the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust will ensure permanent protection.
The North Tract of the preserve lies at the foot of the Baldpates and is in the viewshed of 14 A.T. viewpoints. The North Tract captures the elevation gradient from the flanks of Surplus Mountain (directly on the Appalachian Trail) down to the significant wetland complex in the center of the parcel, which contains the Swift Cambridge River and attendant tributary streams. The North Tract has a network of multi-use trails, including access for a public road, parking, bridges, and a road network. All of these will be open to the public.