As Auburn residents, we like to visit the Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve at least twice a week, and we follow a looping trail around the Preserve about 3 miles long. The trail is good for hiking all year. The trail involves some climbing up and down hills, especially around a small lake, and so I would rate it easy to moderate in difficulty. I am attaching a map of the trail route. Though some of the trails are marked by signage, there is no blazing.
The trail begins and ends in the main parking area. After winding through a path called Dead Timbers with plenty of fallen trees, it follows the fence line up a hill to an open grassy area cleared for power lines. There are bee hives to view in this area. Next it follows a small trail called Pine Tree Sneak to the broad Cemetery Trail, and then cuts right down Ridge Path. Under a dangling vine, it turns right to a small spring, and just before rejoining Ridge Path, it passes the remains of a whisky still. From there the trail leads down to the west side of the pond and climbs up Barn Trace to the site of an old homestead. Turning to the right, it passes a Butterfly Garden, frequented in season by many monarchs and other butterfly species. After crossing a small bridge, the trail leads to the North Parking Area, but the gate to this area is closed except during special events. This point is about halfway on the hike.
Following the path back south, we keep to the left on Northeast Pass until we come to an unnamed trail marked by fallen branches. Along this trail, just after a flat rock is an unusual upright rock we call the Battleship. The trail then leads to a camping area used by the Boy Scouts where there is a portapotty. From the campsite, we walk down to the east side of the pond, where we cross a small creek on stepping stones. Downhill from here is Hidden Falls, a nice little waterfall with double cascades. Beyond the falls, we walk up the hill in the grassy area cleared for power lines. The air here is usually fragrant with wildflowers, and sometimes you can find blackberries. At the top of the hill, the trail re-enters the forest, following downhill to a bridge, and then up to a forest of scattered pines where the undergrowth is sometimes burned away. The trail leads to a Canopy amphitheater, where there are restrooms with plumbing and a very welcome drinking fountain. Beyond this is a roofed shelter where programs and parties are held, and then a delightful play area for children, the Nature Playground. The short path back to the main parking area concludes the hike.
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