Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary



 

The Stanton Bird Club has been actively engaged in conservation work in the Androscoggin County area for over 80 years. Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary in Lewiston, a 372 acre wildlife preserve, has been the primary focus of that activity through the years. At an elevation of 510 feet, the highest point in the city, this sanctuary sits as a green capstone, a forested oasis surrounded on three sides by urban and suburban development. The "Crag", belonging to the family Thorne in the 1800's, is a familiar and well loved landmark in Lewiston. The human use of this land over the decades has been as varied as the habitats and wildlife it has always protected. Uses have included: recreation and scientific research by Bates College, a sheep and dairy farm, tuberculosis sanitorium, homestead for the reclusive Elder Thorne, and facility for Highland Spring Bottled Water Company.

Today, a revitalized Thorncrag serves as the springboard for several community outreach programs, and as a significant regional site for wildlife habitat enhancement demonstrations and forestry practices. Since 1986 a dedicated corps of volunteers has been working to restore Thorncrag as a safe and educational resource for the area. Our earliest and strongest alliances were with the Cooperative Extension and the Soil and Water Conservation District. Through these agencies we reconstructed all the trails, installed erosion control devices, developed a very comprehensive Master Plan, assessed our wetlands, established an environmental education outreach program, and brought the community to a better understanding of the importance of conservation.

Thorncrag is now used as a demonstration and workshop site for groups such as  University of Maine wildlife biologists, college and high school ecology classes, Boy and Girl Scout troops, professional botanical societies, garden clubs, arborists, environmental educators with programs such as Project Learning Tree and Project Wild, wetland engineers, surveyors, soil scientists, and all the K-12 schools in the Androscoggin County area.

Passive recreation at Thorncrag - birdwatching, picnicking, hiking, walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding, skating, nature photography - is actively encouraged. Promotion of these activities is offered through our widely distributed brochure (at the Chamber of Commerce and Lewiston and Auburn Libraries); in entries in the AAA guidebooks and the Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer; in environmental education publications and newsletters, and in the IF &W publication "On Water, On Wings, In the Woods".

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO DOG OWNERS
As of October 1st, 2010, Dogs and other domestic animals are no longer allowed in Thorncrag or Woodbury Sancturaries. This includes the parking area.
After much study and research, this decision was made by the Board of Directors in order to more fully protect the wildlife that live and breed in the sanctuaries .
Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

Download and Print a Map of Thorncrag
Frequently Asked Questions About Thorncrag
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Thorncrag encompasses approximately 6 different wildlife habitats: Upland Wetlands, Mixed Forest, Restored Farm Meadows, Vernal Pools, Coniferous Old growth Forest, Built Environment (fireplaces, trails, foundations, walls, amphitheaters, etc.). These six habitats support large, diverse populations of wildlife, trees, and herbaceous plants.

THORNCRAG IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC FROM DAWN TILL DUSK

 

WE WELCOME
Trail Hiking
Bird Watching
Nature Walks
Jogging
Picnics
Cross-country Skiing
Snowshoeing

No trash cans are provided. Please carry out anything you bring in.

WE PROHIBIT
Vehicles
Bikes
Snowmobiles
Horseback Riding
Alcoholic Beverages
Fishing, Trapping, Hunting
Collecting of any kind
Camping
Fires

 

GETTING TO THORNCRAG

The City bus stops at the Hannaford Store bus stop on Sabattus Street, at the corner of Highland Spring Road. From here it's just a short walk up Highland Spring Road, turn right at the stop sign and then left into the sanctuary at the gate.


DRIVING
FROM  I-495 - MAINE TURNPIKE, NORTH & SOUTH
Take exit 13 in Lewiston and head west on Rte. 196 (Lisbon Street).
Turn right onto East Avenue. (the Promenade Mall will be on your left, Martel School will be on your right). Take East Avenue to the intersection of Sabattus Street (Rte. 126).You will see Rite Aid on the opposite left corner. Turn right onto Sabattus Street and continue until you see Hannaford's Supermarket on the left. Turn left there onto Highland Spring Road at the stone pillar with a Thorncrag sign on top.
At the end of Highland Spring Road, turn right, and the Sanctuary parking area will be on your left.

FROM THE SOUTH and WEST (Gray, Poland & Minot)
Approach Lewiston along Court Street in Auburn, and cross into Lewiston over the Androscoggin River at Great Falls onto Main Street.
 Head north on Main Street (Rt. 202)
Bear right onto Sabattus Street (Rt.126. You'll see a building with gold letters saying "287 Main Street" at that intersection. The Kora Temple will be on your right)
Stay on Sabattus Street until you come to Hannaford's Supermarket on the left.
Turn left there onto Highland Spring Road at the stone pillar with a Thorncrag sign on top.
At the end of Highland Spring Road, turn right, and the Sanctuary parking area will be on your left.

FROM THE NORTH (Turner & Rte. 4,  Greene & Rte. 202)
From Rte 4, Turn left at the Auburn Mall onto the Veterans Memorial Bridge. At the end of the bridge you will cross Rte. 202 (Main St. Lewiston) onto Russell Street.
From Greene and Rte. 202, you will turn left onto Russell Street at the intersection of the bridge.
Follow Russell Street to the intersection of Sabattus Street.
Turn left onto Sabattus Street (Rt.126.) 
Drive on Sabattus Street a short distance until you come to Hannaford's Supermarket on the left.
Turn left there onto Highland Spring Road at the stone pillar with a Thorncrag sign on top.
At the end of Highland Spring Road, turn right, and the Sanctuary parking area will be on your left.

FROM THE EAST (Lisbon and Rte. 196)
Rte. 196 brings you into Lewiston on Lisbon Street. Once in Lewiston, turn right onto East Avenue. (the Promenade Mall will be on your left, Martel School will be on your right). Take East Avenue to the intersection of Sabattus Street (Rte. 126).You will see Rite Aid on the opposite left corner. Turn right onto Sabattus Street and continue until you see Hannaford's Supermarket on the left. Turn left there onto Highland Spring Road at the stone pillar with a Thorncrag sign on top.
At the end of Highland Spring Road, turn right, and the Sanctuary parking area will be on your left.

OR: Go straight at the light and stay on East Ave. through the next light (Russell St.), past Montello School on the right, to the four-way intersection with Montello St. Go across Montello St., straight up the hill, past the resevoir on your left, East Ave. will turn into a dirt road, down the hill to our other gate and kiosk entrance. Park in this cul-de-sac or along the road.

FROM THE EAST (Sabattus and Rte. 126)
Rte. 126 brings you into Lewiston on Sabattus Street. Once in Lewiston you will see Hannaford's Supermarket on the right. Turn right there onto Highland Spring Road at the stone pillar with a Thorncrag sign on top.
At the end of Highland Spring Road, turn right, and the Sanctuary parking area will be on your left.

THE BIRDS OF THORNCRAG