I grew up in Saco and am extremely familiar with Ferry Beach, but I had never hiked any of the trails at Ferry Beach State Park. I guess that’s not really surprising given I’ve only started exploring local hikes recently, but still you think I might have stumbled into the area once or twice. But no! It was unexplored territory for me. So, this past April, my husband and I decided to give it a try, and headed to the Saco Beach Loop Trail.
The Loop is really three distinct sections of separate hikes, each with their own unique look and feel. If you’re easily bored, this trail offers variety. We printed out a map that loosely outlined the loop and headed to our hike.
We started off at the gated entrance to Ferry Beach State Park located on Bayview Road. The entrance was chained off, but there were a few parking spots near the entrance. After parking, we went past the gate and looked around a bit trying to get our bearings. Clearly our confusion was noticeable as a passerby kindly directed us to the trail entrance.
We started out on the Red Oak Trail which was located on our left just a short distance up after entering past the gate. This trail had a wide path with easy terrain. It connects up to the Tupelo Trail which goes through the Tupelo swamp and then by Long Pond before arriving at the parking lot by the beach area of Ferry Beach State Park.
I’m not sure we successfully identified any of the Tupelo trees when passing through the swamp although we did point out our top three contenders. Maybe they’re easier to identify in the summer? Even if our arborist skills were lacking, it was still a lovely walk as we meandered through the swamp while walking across a long wooden bridge.
After the swamp area you pass by long pond and then come up to the beach parking area where the trail continues via a tunnel underneath Route 9. I have driven this road easily hundreds, if not thousands, of times, but never knew there was a tunnel underneath the road. And, we’re not talking about a small, hidden passage. It’s a fairly large tunnel. I’ll be working on my observational skills as clearly they need improvement. The tunnel takes you out onto Ferry Beach for the second part of the hike which is along the ocean.
This part of the hike was along an area I know well and love. While the walk along the beach was beautiful, it was at high tide so it was difficult as we were walking in soft sand at a fairly good incline. Even though the walk was challenging, the beach was almost deserted and incredibly peaceful.
We were following instructions for the hike from the Maine Today article “Loopy About the Saco Beach Loop” by Carey Kish. His article is wonderful, with detailed landmarks on how to follow the interconnected trails. Even with his great instructions we struggled with when to turn off the beach to get back to the final leg of the trail. We just couldn’t identify the landmark on where to turn off the beach so finally we just picked a spot, cut back up to Route 9, and figured we’d walk on the road for a bit. Fortunately, we weren’t too far off the mark and it was just a short distance to the third leg of our journey.
We found the entrance to the Atlantic Way trail which goes through salt marshes and is part of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. This last part of the hike was also beautiful but in a different way. It had more of a wild, rustic feel. After the initial path, the trail becomes less clear and being novice hikers it was a bit confusing for us. I was pretty happy for the colored trail markings painted on the trees to help keep us on track.
We finally emerged back out on Vines Road and it was only a short walk back Bayview Road and our parked car at the entrance to Ferry Beach State Park. What I enjoyed most about this hike was that you really get to see a variety of things along the trails. The look and feel of the hike is constantly changing. I would recommend you check the tides though and go at low tide so the ocean walk is a little more manageable. I would also bring bug spray if you come in the summer.
|things to know|
|Trail||Saco Beach Loop|
|Location||Ferry Beach State Park, Saco, Maine|
|Address||95 Bayview Rd, Saco, ME 04072|
|Favorite ♥||Walking Along the Ocean|