As August never fails to remind us, it’s time to savor summer. The water is warm, and the berries are plump for the picking. If you’re dying for the quintessential Maine summer day, it’s just a 35-minute drive west from Portland.
Pick those high-bush blues
Sure, true Mainers rake them, but let’s be honest with ourselves: those high-bush blueberries require zero hunching and are bigger for munching. Joan and Brad’s Berry Farm in Hollis is a quaint farm with sunny fields — which is to say, don’t speed on Deerwander Road or you’ll miss the hand-painted sign and make sure you bring sunscreen. You’ll be given a bucket with string, so you can wear it like a purse (#MaineFashion). Clusters of blueberries are practically falling off the bushes, where the farm’s cats roam free.
Joan and Brad’s Berry Farm
447 Deerwander Road, Hollis
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, but check the Facebook page before you go
$2.75 a pound
Hike to swim
Now that you’ve labored in the sun and eaten your weight in berries, head six miles down the road for some epic rope-swinging –– or beach-reading, whatever you’re into.
Pleasant Point Park offers sweeping views of the Saco River. A roughly two mile loop trail hits a small dirt parking lot on Joy Valley Road. If you start there and take a right, you’ll find an old bridge structure that the local teenagers will double-dog dare you to jump or swing off. There are six rope swings on this one little hike, but this is probably the biggest at about 40 feet high. The river is about 50 feet deep here, according to the town of Buxton.
The path goes on through pine forests blanketed in orange needles. You’ll follow the river on this easy trail, which sometimes climbs up to give you cliff-jumping opportunities, but also sinks down to a couple sandy beaches that are perfect for tennis-ball throwing (dogs are allowed) or a dip in the slow-moving Saco.
You can go back the way you came or head toward the formal park entrance on Simpson Road and loop back on a shaded, even path speckled with blackberries. The whole trail takes 20 to 30 minutes, but if you only have time to pull off the side of the road, jump in the warm river and get back in your car, this is a great place for that, too.
Bring a picnic, a lawn chair and your swimsuit. You can put your kayak or canoe in here.
Pleasant Point Park
There’s parking along Joy Valley Road, Buxton (you’ll see stone pillars) — this entrance will get you to swimming the most quickly. There are only six dirt parking spots. The park entrance, with about 20 parking spots and porta-potty, is on Simpson Road (roughly 36 Simpson Road, if you’re using GPS) in Buxton. Alternately, you could park at a lot next to Salmon Falls Library, 268 Old Alfred Road, Hollis
Open dawn to dusk
No fee, no fires allowed, dogs OK, great for swimming or paddling
Top it off with a cherry
You’re in farmland — the best place in the world to get ice cream. Big Daddy’s North makes its own at an adorable side-of-the-road cabin, a stone’s throw from the park. Flavors rotate, so one day you could sate your coconut craving, but chocolate walnut may take over the next day. The ice cream shack has picnic tables in the shade, in view of the river. A kiddie cone will set you back $2.50.
22 Hollis Road, Hollis Center
Noon to 9 p.m. daily in the summer