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The Forest Playground

Explore, Play, Discover

Take a step into the Forest Playground and you will quickly discover that it is not a typical playground. It is much more. This is a place where all of our senses are invited to play. The elements and materials here provide inspiration for fun, connection, creativity, movement and discovery. Children experience imaginative play, artistic and musical creation, scientific discovery and observation of the natural world.

In its own small way, the Forest Playground revolutionizes how we look at play.

The Forest Playground is designed to be open-ended, nature-based and engaging for young people of many interests and all ages. There are very few rules for how to use the space. It is free and open to the public. Designed as a portable pop-up, the Forest Playground will rotate to different sites throughout its lifespan.

During the summer of 2024, the Forest Playground can be found at the Curtis Farm Preserve on Harpswell Neck. Parking is available at 1554 Harpswell Neck Road. Follow the trail to the right until you see the Forest Playground.

The Forest Playground has previously spent time at Curtis Farm Preserve, Skolfield Shores Preserve, the Hackett Trail, Harpswell Community School, and Bowdoin Central School.

girl smiling on rope swing

Curt Chipman photo

  • “It was wonderful to see the kids use their imagination and play in the woods” – Bowdoin Central School teacher

Comments from the Forest Playground sign in book:

  • “This is one of the coolest playgrounds we’ve ever seen!”
  • “Awesome play space!”
  • “This was one of the only times I liked hiking” (age 12)
  • “Thank you for this hidden treasure!”
  • “My favorites were the tire swing, the hammock and the rope ladder.”
  • “Enticing and interactive for all ages! Thanks”
  • “I just discovered this place and I think every school should have one.”

Click here to read an article about the Forest Playground.

Tag your photos with #harpswellforestplayground on social media or share them with us by emailing to: photos@hhltmaine.org.

Play and Imagination

Play is how we learn! Free play is at the core of the philosophy behind the Forest Playground. We present the space and tools for children to imagine. They supply the creativity! There is no “wrong” way to play in the Forest Playground.


Children love to move! The Forest Playground is a place where discoveries can occur through movement. The Forest Playground includes areas for balancing, hanging and swinging for children to have fun and develop gross motor skills.

Exploration and Discovery

Children are natural scientists! In the Forest Playground, young people are encouraged to use their senses to observe the natural world around them. We provide prompts, activities and tools to aid in this rich opportunity of discovery.


Children are artists and musicians! A large wooden xylophone is just one of the opportunities children have to make music in the Forest Playground. Children are invited to create ephemeral art with nature and build fairy houses.

Story Walk

Children love stories! Follow the story walk to read a nature-themed children’s book. This year we have a new book to read on our story walk titled The First Blade of Sweetgrass.

Thank you to our volunteers and funders!

A big thank you is due to the volunteers who contributed many hours to making the Forest Playground a reality. Thank you also to Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and Lowe’s for start-up funding support.