If you haven’t been to Little Ponds Preserve recently, you might not know that some big changes have been underway. Little Ponds Preserve is a small, 22-acre preserve on Great Island that Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) acquired in 2017. Eagle Scout candidate Harrison Whittaker of Topsham has worked tirelessly over the last few months to coordinate volunteers and create a new, northern loop trail on the private property adjacent to Little Ponds.
Eagle Scout projects are focused on bettering local communities. Scouts choose their own projects, so Harrison reached out to HHLT about trail work he could help with. “I’ve done a lot of hiking through Boy Scouts, and I thought it would be fitting to do something that would help other people be able to enjoy hiking, especially for the Cundy’s Harbor area,” Harrison said. “There aren’t a ton of trails around there, so I thought being able to expand people’s opportunities for hiking would be nice.”
The original loop trail, now the “south loop,” was only a quarter mile long. By adding an additional, connected loop, Harrison’s project has increased the length of trail at Little Ponds to just under a mile.
The new loop travels north from Little Ponds onto private property. It features views of Mill Pond, which is covered with white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata) throughout summertime, then turns west through the woods and eventually re-connects with the south loop.
Much of the area along Mill Pond is wet, but that didn’t stop Harrison. Building the bog bridging throughout the new loop was his favorite part of the project. “I really liked building the bridges because it felt like an accomplishment. I remember when I first got to the preserve there was this one area that was so wet that it felt like it was impossible to cross it without huge rubber boots. Then as soon as we put that bridge in it was so easy to get across. It felt like I had made a difference.”
Harrison has now submitted his project to his troop, and all that stands in his way of becoming an Eagle Scout is his board of review. When asked if he had any advice for other scouts pursuing their Eagle, Harrison said, “choose something that you’re really interested in because it’s a lot easier to do a project you can actually enjoy.”
This fall Harrison will be starting a new undertaking—studying finance at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. “I think [college] will be really different but I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning new things.”
Harrison and the entire HHLT staff would like to thank everyone who volunteered throughout the trail building process. We hope you can get out and enjoy both loop trails at Little Ponds this summer. And while you’re there, keep your eyes peeled! Harrison says, “There’s a lot of diversity if you’re looking out for it.”
From all of us at HHLT, thank you, Harrison, and good luck at your board of review! We know you’ll make a great Eagle Scout.