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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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Posted: November 26, 2018

Hiking in Maine: There’s a lot to drink in while touring Biddeford-Saco

Written by: Carey Kish

The Saco River runs through the heart of Biddeford and Saco on the final leg of its 136-mile journey from its source high in the White Mountains at Crawford Notch.

The river may form a natural boundary between the two towns, but it’s also the common thread that has connected these hardy communities since they were settled nearly four centuries ago.

The name Saco comes from the Abenaki word sakohki, meaning “land where the river comes out.” In the last few miles before emptying into Saco Bay, there are a surprising number of green spaces with meandering trails, wild and scenic pockets of bogs and woodlands, beaches and estuaries. Add five craft breweries in the area to this bounty and you’ve got a bonanza for thirsty hikers looking for new ground to cover, both outside and indoors.

Although the possible combinations are many and varied, based upon a few days of field research in the Biddeford-Saco area, I developed this short list of fine hikes and brews pairings.

Ferry Beach State Park/ Run of the Mill Brewing

The Ferry Beach State Park gate is closed for the winter, but you can walk the park road or hike the Red Oak Trail to access the 1.4-mile network of five color-coded trails. Highlights include a black tupelo swamp, a freshwater pond and the long sandy swath of Ferry Beach.

Run of the Mill Brewing in the old York Mill on Saco’s Factory Island has served fine brews and good chow since 2008. The Alewife Ale and Bug Lager are the most popular beers; try one with the monster Mac & Beer Cheese.

Saco Heath Preserve/ Barreled Souls Brewing

Owned by The Nature Conservancy, the 1,218-acre Saco Heath Preserve protects the most southerly example of a raised coalesced bog, which is home to one of the largest stands of Atlantic white cedar in Maine. A 1.2-mile (one-way) boardwalk extends into the beautiful heath.

There’s a lot of soul in the oak barrels used to ferment the beer at Barreled Souls Brewing, hence the beautiful name. Enjoy something special, like Silver Hawks IPA, Quaker State Stout or Blue Steel Sour Gose, from the 20 taps in their fun and funky basement space on Route 1 in Saco.

East Point Audubon Sanctuary/ Banded Brewing

On Fletcher Neck at the east end of Biddeford Pool, a 1.5-mile trail leads along the spectacular ocean shoreline of East Point Audubon Sanctuary. Erected in 1858, the 42-foot granite Wood Island Lighthouse at the mouth of the Saco River dominates the view to the north.

Tucked into Pepperell Mill Building 13W on Main Street in Biddeford, Banded Brewing has 19 taps, bar snacks and grilled cheese sandwiches, plus ping pong, pinball and video games.

Blandings Park Wildlife Sanctuary/Nuts & Bolts Brewing

Named for the endangered semi-aquatic turtle, Blandings Park protects 225 acres of wildlife habitat close to the center of Biddeford. Five color-coded trails lead to the old rail beds and pits of the former Andrews Quarry, part of the town’s rich history of 1800’s granite quarrying.

Deedra Zeeh and Patrick Doherty have full-time day jobs, but nights and weekends they are co-owners, co-brewers and co-servers at Nuts & Bolts Brewing in Biddeford’s Pepperell Center. Ad Nauseum IPA and Thai Tea Saison are brew menu regulars.

Clifford Park/ Dirigo Brewing

Established in 1894, the 140-acre Clifford Park near downtown Biddeford is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers. The Black, Green and Red trails total about four miles of hiking, and lead along lovely West Brook and to Biddeford’s craggy 200-foot high point.

Dirigo Brewing focuses on producing top lagers; the Helles Lager is the flagship. Enjoy one of the six drafts on tap at their tasting room in the mill space on Pearl Street, overlooking the Saco River falls.

Essential companions for your Biddeford-Saco adventures include “Take a Hike in the Saco Bay Area” from Saco Bay Trails (sacobaytrails.org), an 80-page guide that describes 25 hikes in Saco, Biddeford and Ocean Park, and Maine Beer Trail passport from the Maine Brewers Guild (mainebrewersguild.org).

 

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