The Forest Playground

Update, June 2020: Due to safety concerns, sadly we will not set up the Forest Playground in 2020. It will be back in 2021!

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. Sometimes you’ll find it at a Harpswell Heritage Land Trust preserve, while at other times you’ll find it at an school.

In 2019 the Forest Playground spent time at Bowdoin Central School, Harpswell Community School and Curtis Farm Preserve.

  • “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: outreach@hhltmaine.org.

Check out the slideshow and description below!

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 the excellent book: Sylvia Rose and the Cherry Tree.

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.

  • Bill Snellings
  • Cristine Bachor
  • Harpswell Coastal Academy students
  • Cathy Given
  • Gary Downes
  • Bill Fall
  • David Sheaff
  • Scott Howe
  • Linda Blanton
  • Girl Scout Brownie/Daisy troop 520

Thank you to Casco Bay Estuary Partnership and Lowe’s for funding this project.