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 Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21 
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 Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
A couple little nature walks from Maine. One is in the AMC Nature Walks Along The Seacoast Guide. The other isn't in any guides I know of.

Yesterday I again needed to distract and divert my little ones attention from the fact that she wasn't invited to a birthday party with her older sisters. When I asked her what she wanted to do this time she again said "hike!" so who am I to argue with her?! :D It was in the 50's with bright sunshine so we headed for the coast where there would be no snow, to Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine to be exact located on Gerrish Island. Another former military fort that once guarded the naval shipyard. Other than Odiorne State Park, and maybe even ahead of it, it is probably the best seaside walking in the area. We parked outside the gate which is locked for the season, and walked up the access road, taking a side road off that past a marsh, former lookout tower and pavilion before ending up at the waters edge. Great views of the craggy coast, small islands and Isles of Shoals greeted us as we made our way down to the beach to look for treasures before returning to the trail that hugged the edge of the coast around the point from there.

Headed up the access road to the old observation tower
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The path hugs the coast to a nice beach area
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You can climb down the embankment to hunt for treasures if you like
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As it wrapped around past the cattail marsh on one side and the ocean on the other the Whaleback Lighthouse came into view, and then the pier near the beach with Portsmouth and Newcastle as a backdrop. The path was well graded and nearly flat, so my 2 year old had an easy go of it. We passed more seaside views, rocks, ledges, beaches and fortifications before finally coming to the pier. The wooded pier extends 1/10th of a mile out over the water providing great views as you go. Islands, water, lighthouses and forts fill the area with sights, scenery and history. After hitting the end of the road we returned to land, climbed around part of the old fort and then used the playground for a bit before finishing the loop back to the car. The AMC Guide calls this one the Shoreline Trail, although I have never seen that anywhere else. Whatever it's called it made a great 2 mile walk and perfect distraction on a 57 degree February day.

Headed back the other way Whaleback Lighthouse comes into view
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A cattail marsh houses a beaver lodge on the inland side of the path
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Whaleback Light with NH's first settlement spot beyond that
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The pier coming into view
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Attempting to not step on any of the voids between boards
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Look back from the end
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One of the old buildings you can actually climb around on/in
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VFTT
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Today we headed up to LL Bean for some new boots for my wife and socks for my kids (the Smartwools are 30% off at the outlet if you need any :wink: ) and after doing the usual tour of the store they love to do it was time to find a little hike. Harpswell is across the bay and about 25 minutes away by car. It consists of a couple narrow points of land and islands with bridges that extend 10 miles out into Casco Bay. There are surprisingly a lot of decent looking hiking trails in the area (listed on the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust website http://hhltmaine.org/ ) and while not exactly Acadia National Park, it has a nice rugged and wild feel to it. And as a lover of all things Maine Coast I hope to eventually check them all out. Today was a visit to the Giant Stairs Trail, which sits on the ocean side of Bailey's Island, the farthest one out from the mainland. Parking is at a small church and then you walk down the street a few hundred feet to the trail head itself.

Who doesn't love being in a fish tank?! :D
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Park here for the Giant Stairs Trail
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It was about 50 degrees with a little breeze but still not bad for February on the Maine coast. The first 1/4 mile of trail is a crushed stone path that hugs the edge of the rocky coast with constant views of the islands and coast. The seas were pretty rough and even at low tide the waves were crashing around pretty good too. The trail is almost flat and in no time we were out at the Giant Steps, which are as the name suggests a large 40 foot high step looking formation of volcanic rock that go down a large cleft in the bedrock to the crashing waves below. A brief visit and we were off to the other feature at the far end of the trail, which is labeled as "Thunder Hole" on the brochure/map (http://hhltmaine.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/2015-McIntosh-Lot-and-Giants-Stairs-Brochure-web.pdf) and with rough seas we were hopeful it would be thundering. My oldest asked if I remembered the Thunder Hole in Acadia last summer that we told her had waves crashing like thunder but really just splooshed around when we visited. :? I tried to explain it doesn't always thunder but I guess we'll have to try that one again in better conditions.

Easy stroll out to the stairs
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VFTToftheStairs
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At the end of the Giant Stairs Walk there is a spur trail to "Thunder Hole" which is named the Rocky Trail. Basically it is some spray painted lines that pass for blazes and lead you closely along the edge of the seaside cliffs to the cleft the sign calls the "Gully". Whatever you want to call it the water conditions were again wrong for it to make thunder. This one seems like it is best at high tide, since the water barely flows into the 40 foot deep gash at low tide. Nice scenery with the waves crashing on the rugged coast for sure, just no thunder. You have the option of walking back on the road, but we turned back and retraced our steps along the path to the car. This was not a long walk, 3/4 of a mile round trip either way, but it had dramatic seaside scenery and some fun rocks for the girls to scramble on. The Giant Stairs were interesting but really nothing spectacular. On a hot summer day this is probably a nice little spot to keep cool also. As I said before, not quite Acadia, but if you're in the area it's a beautiful, quiet spot and a worthwhile stop I thought.

This is where the going gets tougher
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Follow the red blazes and watch your step
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Thunder Hole was not thundering today :(
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Relentless seas pounding Bailey Island
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Watch your step on the Rocky Trail
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You can return by road or the path. We went back the way we came to watch the sea for a bit longer
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So that's it in my latest installment of nature walks on the coast. :D If you live relatively close to the southern Maine/NH/MA seacoast the AMC Guide I mentioned has provided a lot of worthwhile little trips for us while the kids are little. Lots of easy walks you might never know existed, but there's a ton more out there not in the guide. This website is a really good one for moderate hikes around Maine's Mid-Coast and Sebago areas http://www.mainebyfoot.com/ and if you live near or frequent the area it's definitely worth bookmarking. Lots of good stuff to explore there too when the bigger mountain hikes aren't what you're after for whatever reason.


Last edited by Granite Guy on Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:25 am
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Mountain Maestro
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/21 & 2/22
nice report, very similar to Fort Foster, put Fort Baldwin near Popham beach on your list if you haven't already been.

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:19 am
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
She will be dragging you up waumbek in no time!


Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:35 am
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
interesting number of posts there Granite Guy- 6288 :D

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:36 am
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Have not been to Popham but that and Reid State Park are on the list. Maybe we can hit them this spring before the crowds arrive.

thegibba she will be dragging me kicking and screaming, but I would like to get the 48 done as a family some day soooo....

And I hadn't noticed the post count (I try and avoid looking and seeing how much of a life I don't have :roll: ) but since it was mentioned, and in order to properly memorialize the momentus occasion... :D

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:09 am
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
I like Fort Foster -- I walked through there and Fort McClary one Winter morning a couple years back and had a nice time at both (I did see your prior report on McClary). Fort Foster was my Snowy Owl sighting moment. Nice relaxing places.

As for number coincidences, we (mostly my wife) have some friends whose address is actually 48 Pinkham. I thought that was about the greatest NH address one could have. They aren't particularly hikers and had no idea the significance of the number or street.


Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:47 am
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Snowy owls. Didn't think to look for them there. I saw the one in Rye on Friday. Wonder how long they'll stick around with the spring-like weather we've been having.

There's an Acadia Drive in Hampton too. Just a few hundred miles from Acadia I might add. And a 48 White Mountain Highway in Rochester. That would be a nice address to have, I mean, other than the whole Rochester thing.


Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:32 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
I've always wanted to see Acadia's Thunder Hole, and that one in this TR might be "the poor man's Thunder Hole". Does it bear any resemblance to the Acadia one?

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 8:16 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
hiker0200 wrote:
I've always wanted to see Acadia's Thunder Hole, and that one in this TR might be "the poor man's Thunder Hole". Does it bear any resemblance to the Acadia one?


A little bit. See for yourself. Both require the tides and winds to be right or you just get some splish-splashing but no real thunder. More often than not you'll leave saying "That's it??" I've actually only heard Thunder Hole in Acadia going good once up close. A couple times from Gorham Mountain when I couldn't actually see it. I think the rangers said it only thunders about 10% of the time.

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But when it gets going it's fun to watch...from afar! :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05J_5lF2BJU


Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:12 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Next time I go to Acadia, I want to try to see the Thunder Hole. More to the point, see it when it actually thunders. Dunno when I'll go there next, and I don't know if I can get myself to drive 530 miles roundtrip for a daytrip there... :(

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:18 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Well then go for a couple of days. Last year i got the yearly pass and stayed overnight a few times. It's 30 bucks to stay at Blackwood's. Leave early. Get a hike or two in. Set up camp. Go on another hike or two. Catch sunset on a Western mountain or Cadillac. Chill at the campsite and go for round two the next day. Perhaps catch sunrise. I've never been disappointed with Acadia. Even for a day hike.


Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:35 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
And if your schedule ever works with ours I am positive there will be both day and overnight trips there for myself and Gibba. You (and most others) are welcome to join in the fun if interested.


Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:42 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Gibba: More than likely I'll go there for at least an overnight trip the next time I go. Can get more of a full experience that way 8) .

GG: Thanks for the invite! Would love to hike with you all more than once a year on Flags.

Oh yea: Say hello to the newest member of the Sovereign Woodsman club :D :beer: !

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Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:52 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Quite the momentus thread for post counts we have going here.


Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:33 pm
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 Re: Wandering The Maine Coast...Again - 2/20 & 2/21
Thanks for another great idea for a day excursion for my flatlander
famiy.

Terry


Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:13 am
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