Directions: From Rt. 17 in Coopers Mills, take Somerville Road (between Peaslee’s Quick Stop and Country Corners Store) to its junction with Rte. 105. Cross Rte 105 onto Turner Ridge Road. Drive .6 miles and a small parking area will be on the left near a Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine green and white sign. The parking area is located about 300 yards past the power lines.
The 250-acre Cecil and Virginia Brann Memorial Forest in Somerville is located on both sides of Turner Ridge Road and extends from the East Branch of the Sheepscot River to Lovejoy Stream.
The property was donated to the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM) by Cecil Brann. The parcel has deed restrictions that require it to be maintained as a working forest and it is registered as a Maine Tree Farm. The Branns also stipulated that the land be open to the public. The property has been in the Brann family for several generations. For more information on SWOAM, go to www.swoam.org.
A wide dirt woods road makes for easy hiking on the west (left) side of Rt. 105. The woods road crosses hilly terrain and goes to a large wood yard.
Walk straight through the wood yard and follow a well-worn skidder trail over rugged terrain to a small forest brook. Cross the brook and continue on the skidder trail to the end of the property at a bog and Lovejoy Stream. Return on the same trail. Plan on 45 minutes to an hour to hike to the bog and back.
Brann Memorial Forest is teaming with wildlife. Wild turkeys slowly dissolve into the underbrush and are out of sight. A shy woodpecker plays its familiar music on a dead tree, but stops as a hiker nears. Moose scat and deer hoof prints are abundant along the trail.
Mature softwood was recently harvested, leaving large oaks and other hardwoods, with new evergreen trees springing up in beautiful shades of green.
Gorgeous fungus is popping up all over the forest floor in shades of orange, yellow, pink and brown. Wildflowers are in abundance as well. Blueberries, not yet ripe, are fattening up, and raspberry and blackberry bushes are a year away from providing an abundant crop.
The East side of the property extends down to the East Branch of the Sheepscot River, and is not as easily accessible as the west side. Wet and boggy terrain makes for difficult and wet walking.
The best way to view the Sheepcot River and surrounding bog is to walk 300 yards on Turner Ridge Road back toward Rt. 105 and hike on a wide trail on the power lines, which are adjacent to the Brann Memorial Forest land.
The power line trail goes up a steep hill, where the Sheepscot can be seen on the far side of a beautiful bog. The wide trail ends at the edge of a bog, and a fishermen’s trail goes along the slightly elevated ridge of the power lines to the East Branch.
The footpath is extremely wet with a foot of water in places. There is an active osprey nest on the power lines so care should be given not to disturb the inhabitants. The bog is prime habitat for a number of bird species.
Plan on 20 minutes to hike the power line trail to the bog and back, and 40 minutes to the East Branch of the Sheepscot and back.