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.”
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.
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.