Outdoor enthusiasts who stay at Newcastle Inn often visit one of the environmental gems of Midcoast Maine, the Hidden Valley Nature Center. The center, located in Jefferson, about 15 miles north of Newcastle, has more than 30 miles of trails for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
Hidden Valley Nature Center is community-based and run by a non-profit corporation that aims to provide year-round opportunities for non-motorized recreation, offer education about the natural world and to model innovative, sustainable forestry practices. The center comprises one of the largest areas of undeveloped forest land in the Midcoast Maine region, and also has about a mile of shoreline along 112-acre Little Dyer Pond. The land also features some steep rock walls, gorges, vernal pools and many small ponds. Each year the center offers more than 50 educational opportunities, including programs about ecology, forestry, botany and outdoor recreation. Winter programs this year include sessions on cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, animal tracking, and winter camping. The center hosts the annual Liberal Cup Biathlon in February.
During the summer, the center’s trails are popular for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Because Little Dyer Pond is fairly secluded, canoe paddlers and fishermen usually find quiet waters. The center’s efforts to experiment with and promote sustainable forestry were recognized with a 2014 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award from the American Tree Farm Society. Hidden Valley Nature Center is a hidden gem that allows visitors to experience Maine woods without leaving the Midcoast. Please ask us for information and directions if you’d like to visit the center during your stay at Newcastle Inn.