Wolfe's Neck Woods State ParkPark is a five minute drive from the center of Freeport's bustling shopping district, and as visitors approach the park, marshes and open fields provide a tranquil transformation back to nature. Wolfe's Neck Woods contains varied ecosystems, including climax white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rocky shorelines on Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River.
The park's signature residents are the ospreys who nest on nearby Googins Island. An interpretive panel on the trail explains the life cycle of this magestic, graceful bird which summers on the island and makes its annual trek to South America each fall. Visitors who participate in a nature walk with the park naturalist can view the baby birds on their nest through high-powered lenses. The popular Casco Bay Trail carries visitors along Maine's coastline to a point where the surrounding islands of Eagle, Cousin and others are described on an interpretive panel. After discovering the trails, visitors can picnic under a canopy of oak trees or a group barbeque is possible at the park's shelter area.
Dedicated to nature appreciation, the 233-acre park provides interpretive signs on trails and guided programs for groups and the general public. Facilities include: picnic tables with charcoal grills; wheelchair accessible parking, picnicking, bathrooms, and path; and five miles of hiking trails through the woods and along the shores of Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River.
(Park is located 4.5 miles from US 1 in downtown Freeport, via Bow Street and Wolf Neck Road. Park season: April - October. For further information call 207-865-4465.)
Camden Hills State ParkMaines largest state park at 5,700 acres, Camden Hills State Park's signature location is the scenic vista high atop Mount Battie, where sweeping views of Camden, Penobscot Bay, and surrounding islands await. On a clear day, visitors can see Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. Mount Megunticook, the highest of the Camden Hills - and highest peak on the mainland - is a moderate climb by foot trail. Other hiking opportunities abound and are well-mapped.
The park is located a few minutes north of Camden, a quintessential New England town featuring shops that are within walking distance of the working harbor. Harbor cruises, whale and puffin watches are available daily.
Camden Hills provides: 30 miles of hiking trails with access from five major trailheads; a 107-site camping area includes flush toilets, hot showers and some electric and water hook-up sites; and a picnic area with available group shelter.
(Park is located 2 miles north of Camden on US 1. Park season: May 15 - October 15. For further information call 207-236-3109.)
Popham Beach State ParkBordering the south side of the mouth of the Kennebec River, Popham Beach State Park is truly one of Maine's rare geologic landforms, featuring a long stretch of sand beach. Sunbathers relaxing on Popham's sands can see Fox and Wood islands offshore, and the Kennebec and Morse rivers border each end of the beach. Visitors can walk to Fox Island at low tide, but are warned to pay attention to the rising tides to avoid getting marooned.
Tidal flats, sand dunes and coastal woodlands host a wide variety of wildlife from red fox to deer and even an occasional moose. The surrounding salt marshes are a bird watchers playground. From eagles, great blue herons, snowy egrets to vocal song birds, early-rising ornithologists will be well rewarded in the spring and fall.
Local vegetation reflects the harshness of New England's climate with its tolerance for changing temperature and moisture. Popham's pitch pine forest not only thrives amidst salt spray, drought, and sand but also sustains migrating warblers and other birds as they arrive and depart the Midcoast region. The salt marshes that are found on both sides of Route 209 tolerate drastic annual temperature swings while supporting a medley of wildlife including great blue herons, snowy egrets, and a variety of sandpipers and ducks.
Popham Beach State Park encompasses 529 acres, with a spacious sand beach, bathhouses, freshwater rinse-off showers, picnic area with charcoal grills, trails and wildlife watching. Fort Popham State Historic Site is 2 miles farther south on ME 209.
(Park is located on ME 209, 14 miles from Bath to Phippsburg, then follow signs to the park. Park season: April 15 - October 30. For further information call 207-389-1335.)