Gilsland Farm Audubon Center

Situated along the Presumpscot River estuary just five minutes from Portland, Maine Audubon’s headquarters features an environmental education center and a 65-acre sanctuary with more than two miles of trails winding along a pond and through forest, meadow, orchard, and salt marsh.

Visiting during COVID-19

Gilsland Farm is an invaluable resource for communities and families, hosting hundreds of year-round public programs, plus day camps, the Maine Audubon Nature Store, and our Children’s Discovery Room and Educator’s Resource Center. Visitors can walk our trails, observe wildlife from the observation blinds, explore the pond, or visit our apple orchard and peony garden.

There is always something fascinating happening at Gilsland Farm. Our Education Center frequently hosts public events and is available to rent for weddings, meetings, and other functionsNature-themed art exhibits are regularly on display in the gallery, and demonstration gardens on the grounds showcase native plants. Plots in our community garden are cultivated by local neighbors who also volunteer their time to Maine Audubon throughout the year.

Maine Audubon sanctuaries are free and open to the public year round, dawn to dusk. Dogs, even while leashed, are not allowed in our wildlife sanctuaries, as their presence can be disruptive to wildlife.

Directions, Hours, & Contact Info

20 Gilsland Farm Road
Falmouth, Maine 04105
Phone: 207.781.2330
info@maineaudubon.org

Holiday 2022 Hours: The Visitor Center and Nature Store are open daily 10 am to 4 pm. We will be closed December 24 & 25, and December 31, January 1 & 2.  The Visitor Center reopens on Jaunary 3, while Nature Store will be closed through January 5. Happy New Year!

See Visiting during COVID-19 for more information. Please note masks are optional indoors (masks required indoors during the weeks when camp is in session). The Nature Store also takes online or phone orders for curbside pickup during those hours; call (207) 781-2330 x201.

From the north: Take I-295 to exit 10 and then left on Bucknam Road. At the light, turn right onto U.S. Route 1 and continue south for one mile. After the blinking light at the intersection of Routes 1 and 88, Gilsland Farm Road is on the right.

From the south: Take I-295 to exit 9. Continue 1.9 miles north on U.S. Route 1 and turn left onto Gilsland Farm Road at our sign, immediately before the intersection of Routes 1 and 88.

Google Map directions

Trails

Gilsland Farm’s 2.5 miles of trails wind through meadows, in and out of woods, and along the shore of the Presumpscot River estuary. All trails are gentle with no steep grades. The main trailhead is located just outside the Visitor Center at the end of the driveway. From there, one can access all the trail spurs and junctions as well as the principal trail loops.

Downloadable Trail Guide/Map (pdf)

Trail Guide in French (pdf)
Trail Guide in Somali (pdf)
Trail Guide in Portuguese (pdf)
Trail Guide in Swahili (pdf)

View the Gilsland Farm trail map at Maine Trail Finder.

West Meadow Trail (0.7 miles): This walk encircles the rolling West Meadow with its high bluffs overlooking the Presumpscot Estuary. Follow the signs from the main trailhead through a small forested wetland and out into the field. Two observa­tion blinds, accessible by spur trails, offer secluded spots to see wintering waterfowl as well as flocks of migrant shorebirds gathering on the tidal mud­flats.

Pond Meadow Trail (0.6 miles): To see the greatest diversity of habitat, take the Pond Meadow Trail. Pockets of mature red oak and hemlock that date back a century or more are interspersed with stands of Red Maple, Ash, White Birch, and Trembling Aspen. Through the woods just below the apple orchard, the trail leads down to the pond where muskrat and wet­land birds live and feed.

North Meadow Trail (1.2 miles): From the visitor center, take the driveway, and at the turnout halfway down the driveway, bear left through a grove of mature oaks and hemlocks and into the North Meadow. Mowed every other year in late fall after the nesting Bobolinks and Meadowlarks have fledged their young, and sparrows have migrated, this meadow provides winter forage for Canada Geese and hunting grounds for birds of prey.

Wildlife & Habitat

The variety of habitats and gentle trails at Gilsland Farm are ideal for nature study, wildlife-watching, walking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Gilsland Farm’s meadows are nesting habitat for Bobolinks and Meadowlarks, a winter foraging spot for Canada Geese, and hunting grounds for Red-tailed Hawks and other birds of prey.

Abundant woodland and shrubs attract migrating warblers, thrushes, and finches, while the adjacent tidal flats support large flocks of feeding shorebirds. Mammals include weasels, Red Fox, deer, and a variety of rodents, as well as the farm’s unique population of Black Woodchucks. A small pond is home to frogs and muskrat, and the sanctuary’s gardens and plantings attract scores of butterflies and dragonflies.

History

Gilsland Farm and the surrounding shorelands have a long history of human use. For thousands of years they were home to the Wabanakis and their ancestors, perfectly situated for fishing, hunting, and transportation. The arrival of English settlers in the 1630s signaled the end of this era and the beginning of a new one. Land was divided, claimed, turned into grist mills and saw mills. In the mid-1800s, it was purchased by Silas Noyes. In 1911, the farm was purchased by David Moulton and in 1974, his family gifted the property to Maine Audubon. Read a more detailed history of Gilsland Farm here. 

360° Aerial Tour