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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at MaineOutdoors@aol.com.

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: November 18, 2014

Hiking: Saco Beach Loop a fun and interesting 4-mile mile day hike

The Saco Beach Loop is a great day hiking adventure, a 4-mile journey through a beautiful state park, along a portion of the longest stretch of beach in the state, through a nice beachfront neighborhood, and then some nice woods and salt marshes, all within the city of Saco. And as the name of the hike implies, it’s a circuit hike, which is always a treat.

I wrote about this wonderful walking route recently in the Maine Sunday Telegram: “Hiking in Maine: Saco Beach Loop has history and an ocean vista.”

Having fun on Ferry Beach on the Saco Beach Loop. Photo © Carey Kish.

Having fun on Ferry Beach on the Saco Beach Loop. Photo © Carey Kish.

Saco Beach Loop trail map courtesy Saco Bay Trails.

Saco Beach Loop trail map courtesy Saco Bay Trails.

In addition to the scenic natural beauty to be discovered along the way of the Saco Beach Loop, there is a nice handful of interesting factoids of history and whatnot that make the 2-hour trek even more special.

As I alluded to in the story, three centuries ago and long before the advent of roads, beaches were important as overland travel routes for people from as far away as Boston. A ferry crossing connecting Hills Beach and Camp Ellis at the mouth of the Saco River nearby served these early beach travelers, thus giving Ferry Beach its name.

Continuing on with the transportation theme, did you know that a railroad line named “The Dummy” operated between Camp Ellis and Old Orchard Beach until 1922?

As for natural history, the river sands at Ferry Beach are of glacial origin, and the beach grasses on the dunes serve as anchors against erosion.

Then of course, there’s the tupelo or black gum swamp in the park, a species of tree that is at or a little beyond its normal range here.

The rare tupelo swamp in Ferry Beach State Park. Photo © Carey Kish.

The rare tupelo swamp in Ferry Beach State Park. Photo © Carey Kish.

Per John Andrews, the founder of Saco Bay Trails, I also learned that the Atlantic Way, Plymouth Trail and Vines Trail network was made possible by a Saco developer who sold the land to Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and insisted there be public access. John also related that the land that is now Ferry Beach State Park was donated by Joe Deering, a Saco landowner.

I also learned after writing the story that Andrews is not a native of Massachusetts, something I rightly got some grief for. In a note John corrected me, saying that as “a native of Kennebec County, I never even saw Portland until I was in Gardiner (Maine) High School, in those days, unlike the 21st century, a scary big city.”

Duly noted John, a true native Mainer! And thanks for all your great work with Saco Bay Trails and that of the many other dedicated and hard working volunteers!

Anyway, take a fun walk along the Saco Beach Loop through these images of my hike there a year ago November with my wife Fran. Then make a plan to get out there yourself and enjoy this fine hike.

MORE INFO:Hiking in Maine: Saco Beach Loop has history and an ocean vista”; Saco Bay Trails; Ferry Beach State Park.

Ferry Beach State Park has a pleasant network of foot trails. Photo © Carey Kish.

Ferry Beach State Park has a pleasant network of foot trails. Photo © Carey Kish.

Boardwalks lead through the tupelo swamp. Photo © Carey Kish.

Boardwalks lead through the tupelo swamp. Photo © Carey Kish.

Long Pond in Ferry Beach State Park. Photo © Carey Kish.

Long Pond in Ferry Beach State Park. Photo © Carey Kish.

A tunnel under Seaside Avenue (ME 9) and then a boardwalk lead hikers out to Ferry Beach. Photo © Carey Kish.

A tunnel under Seaside Avenue (ME 9) and then a boardwalk lead hikers out to Ferry Beach. Photo © Carey Kish.

Ferry Beach is part of an incredible 7-mile arc of sandy beach. Photo © Carey Kish.

Ferry Beach is part of an incredible 7-mile arc of sandy beach. Photo © Carey Kish.

The Saco Beach Loop passes through a unit of the Rachel Carson NWR. Photo © Carey Kish.

The Saco Beach Loop passes through a unit of the Rachel Carson NWR. Photo © Carey Kish.

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