The Viles Arboretum
The grounds of the Viles Arboretum are open dawn to dusk, seven days a week. These include six miles of trails, all marked and signed, on 224 acres. Trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk. Dogs are allowed on the trails, on a leash at all times. Pet owners must pick up after their dogs. Scroll down for directions.
A good introductory trail is the one to Viles Pond, which takes one through the hosta garden, past the rock garden, and to Viles Pond, often alive with birds, dragonflies, and frogs croaking. Depending on how long one lingers to enjoy the sights, this one mile trail takes about 45 minutes.
The Visitor Center is open 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The Gift Shop offers books, posters, bird feeders, and other items. Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases.
In 1981 the Maine Forest Service began development of the Arboretum. During that year, 120 trees were planted and construction of fences, bridges, trails, and a boardwalk began. In 1982, a private non-profit corporation was formed with a board of directors to manage the 224-acre preserve, called the Pine Tree State Arboretum, and in 1990, the Visitors Center was built, and an executive director was hired. In 1992, a 99- year lease was signed with the Department of Conservation, administered by the Bureau of Parks and Lands, and in 2010, the Arboretum was renamed the Viles Arboretum to honor William Payson Viles (d.1986) and Elsie Pike Viles (d.2013), who were instrumental in establishing the Arboretum and in providing guidance and financial support.
In June of 1991, the Arboretum was certified as a Demonstration Tree Farm, and in 1992 The Hosta Collection was brought to Maine from Massachusetts when the Arnold Arboretum sold the Case Estates in 1992. An education wing was built in 2003. The Arboretum is continuously adding to its collection of trees and plants, its educational activities, programs, events and its trail system.
Current activities of special note include: the "Shifting Gears Initiative", bringing art to the Arboretum as a way of introducing visitors to art through nature and nature through art; installation of interpretive panels for twenty of our botanical collections; and a whole new botanical labelling effort using the same protocol and labels as the Arnold Arboretum.
DIRECTIONS to the Viles Arboretum
153 Hospital Street, Augusta, Maine
From I-95 North: Take the new Augusta/Belfast Exit # 113. Proceed east straight through traffic light and over the new bridge crossing the Kennebec River. After the bridge, at the traffic light, turn right onto Route 201 South. Follow directions below from Routes 201, 202 - East bank of the Kennebec River.
From 1-95 South: Take the Augusta-Winthrop-202 Exit # 109 (Western Avenue); head east towards Augusta on Western Avenue to the rotary. Go 180 degrees around rotary to the 2nd exit. Go over the Memorial Bridge crossing the Kennebec. At the next rotary, take the first, immediate exit onto Stone Street. Follow Stone Street though the lights (now Hospital Street). The turn to the Arboretum's Visitors Center is approximately 0.7 mile past the lights on the left.
From Gardiner: Follow Route 201 North to the light at the Gardiner Bridge. Go across the bridge into Randolph. Turn left at the light. (Follow directions below from Randolph.
From Randolph: Follow Route 9 East towards Augusta. The turn for the Arboretum's Visitors Center is on the right hand side about 5 miles from the intersection of Routes 126, 27, and 9.
From Routes 201, 202, (from the East bank of the Kennebec River): Follow signs to Augusta. Take the 3rd exit off the Cony Rotary onto Stone Street (Route 9). Go up hill and straight through the traffic lights. The turn to the Arboretum's Visitors Center is approximately 0.7 mile past the lights on the left.
From Belgrade Lakes Area: Follow Route 27, approximately 2 miles past the Civic Center. Turn left onto Bond Street at the Cumberland Farms on the left. Turn right at the end of Bond Street. Turn left at the lights (1/4 mile) and cross the Kennebec River on the Father Curran Bridge. Go up the hill to the rotary. Go 1/2 way around the rotary to the 2nd exit. Follow Stone Street through the traffic lights (approximately 1/2 mile). The turn to the Arboretum's Visitors Center is about 0.7 mile up on the left.
From Route 17: Follow Route 17 west to the traffic lights at the intersection of Stone and Hospital Streets, (where Route 17 turns right). Turn left at the traffic light onto Hospital Street. Stay on Hospital Street and the turn to the Arboretum's Visitors Center is approximately 0.7 mile up on the left.