For All Forever, Kennebunk

This Kennebunk Land Trust property seems like it could be a great birding spot! A wide, grassy 0.4-mile corridor brings you to a meadow on the Mousam River and wetland. The trail circles the perimeter of the field before returning up the same path the trailhead, making a roughly 1.2-mile walk.

Directions: The good-sized parking area is off Webber Hill Road, close to the intersection with Wakefield Road.

St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery, Kennebunk

The Franciscan monastery is just minutes from Kennebunkport’s downtown and offers a peaceful contrast to the busy, commercial center. The friars invite the public onto their estate — which includes a guest house, paved walking trails, and gardens designed by the Frederick Law Olmsted Brothers — during opening hours, from sunrise to sunset. Though St. Francis loved animals, the monastery does not allow pets. But there is a gift shop on site that includes a few items for animal lovers.

There are shrines and outdoor chapels throughout the monastery, which was established in 1947 by the Lithuanian Friars of St. Casimir after they fled the Soviet invasion of Lithuania. Many of the shrines contain Lithuanian architectural details.

The trails have views of the river and nearby town, and they are wheelchair accessible. When I visited on a summer Saturday, there were quite a few people strolling the grounds. The gardener, on a break, was feeding the ducks. The paths wind through gardens and along the Kennebunk River as it empties into the sea. To find the trail system, look for a paved trail that leaves the guesthouse parking lot and crosses a field. It’ll pass a pond and a couple of shrines before it enters the woods where you can do a loop. (I also found some non-paved trails leading into the woods on the southern end of the property. I am not sure if these are part of the estate, but they seemed well maintained.)

Directions: From the south, take the Maine Turnpike to Wells, Exit 19. At the end of the ramp, turn left at the traffic light onto Rt. 109 South for 1.6 miles. At the next traffic light, turn left onto Rt. 1 north for 1.8 miles. Turn right on Rt. 9 east for 4.2 miles until you come to the intersection of Routes 9 & 35 (Western Ave & Beach Ave). There is a Sunoco Station on the corner. Take a right onto Beach Avenue. The monastery is .2 miles on your left.

Hope Cemetery and Woods, Kennebunk

I love the name of this cemetery, which does inspire hope (either in this world or the next!).

The roughly 2.4 miles of trails that abut the cemetery are immaculately maintained. The trails to the north of the Hope Woods parking area are all universally accessible, with the exception of two (the blue and yellow ones. And perhaps one day these will be, too). And these paths are some of the most accessible I’ve ever seen for gravel trails— they’re wide, flat, well-marked, and smooth. Additionally, you can stroll through the beautiful cemetery, on its paths and roads.

I believe walkers are encouraged to park at the far end of the cemetery, but walkers can enter the trail system via the cemetery, Wood Pond Lane, Fletcher Street, and Woodhaven Drive. 

Directions: While there are several places to access this trail system, not all of them are conducive to parking. The idea spot to park is in the cemetery at the end of the access road. Enter the cemetery from Portland Road (Route 1), about 300 feet from the intersection with Main Street.

Oxbow Preserve, Kennebunk

Though this trail was a bit overgrown when I visited in June, 2018, it is still a pleasant walk (mind the ticks, though!).  From the trailhead, you walk down a fairly steep access path to the flat section of the preserve, which is nearly encircled by a Mousam River oxbow. You’ll see blazes at the bottom of the hill that will lead you on a half-mile loop.

Directions: Parking is located on Spiller Drive off of Cat Mousam Road in Kennebunk.

Eastern Trail’s Off-Road Segments, South Portland to Kennebunk

It’s an incredible idea, a 3,000-mile “green trail” from Maine to Florida. While some of the 62-mile Eastern Trail is off road in Maine (from South Portland to Kittery), the majority is (right now) along roads, some of them busy roads. Nonetheless, you can do a cool walk or bike ride on an off-road, flat, easy, well-maintained gravel or paved trail that passes through South Portland, Scarborough, Saco, Biddeford and Kennebunk. It is wheelchair accessible. Go here for more information.

New sections of the trail are being constructed. The one I know about is a link-in-progress between the South Portland section (the excellent Greenbelt Walkway) and Scarborough segment.

The section of the trail that cross the Scarborough Marsh is beautiful, and so quite popular, and also great for bird watching. The portions between Kennebunk and Saco are bucolic and peaceful. I was really impressed with this trail, how nice, quiet, and pretty it is.

A few distances: From Scarborough’s Eastern Road trailhead, it is 8.4 miles one way to Thornton Academy. The off-road Kennebunk to Biddeford section is 6.1 miles. The Greenbelt section in South Portland is 5.6 miles.

I have also included on my map a short footpath on the 90-acre Clark Preserve, in Kennebunk. It’s marked in red, and it can be a bit overgrown.

Directions: You can pick up the trail anytime it crosses a road. But there are biggish lots at the Wainwright Sports Complex and Bug Light Park in South Portland, and on Eastern Road (off Black Point Road) in Scarborough. Also there’s a small parking lot on Pine Point Road. You can also park at Thornton Academy and Kennebunk Elementary School.

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Wonder Brook/Murphy Preserve, Kennebunk

This 80-acre Kennebunk Land Trust preserve includes some nice walking along the aptly named Wonder Brook. The 2.3-mile trail system is well blazed and easy to follow. 

Directions: Preserve is .5 mile east of downtown Kennebunk at the end of Plummer Lane.

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Bridle Path, Kennebunk

This is a straight-ish, wide path, good for bicycling, that starts close to Sea Road School (actually, a little north of the school, at the railroad tracks) and ends up, about 3 miles later, close to the beach. The most beautiful section is between Route 9 and Sea Road, where you can walk along a little berm across the marsh. This trail connects two small Kennebunk Land Trust preserves, Madelyn Marx Preserve and Sea Road Preserve.

Take care to stick to the marked trail and respect local landowners’ properties! 

Directions: There is a little parking area on Route 9. You can also park at the Sea Road School. Please don’t park on Tideview Terrace.

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Mousam River Wildlife Sanctuary, Kennebunk

This is a there-and-back .6-mile trail on a 38-acre Kennebunk Land Trust preserve with views of the Mousam River. It ends at the train tracks.

Directions: Preserve is located at the end of Water Street just before the treatment plant; parking is available 50 yards before the trailhead.

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Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk

This map shows both the Kennebunk plains (blue) and the Wells Barren (orange).

This is a phenomenal area, a grasslands and pine barrens, protected by The Nature Conservancy, the state, and other organizations, that is home to several rare or endangered species. Evidently, in late summer, the fields bloom with the world’s largest population of a purple flower called northern blazing star — the only place in Maine where this happens. The area is huge and a number of dirt roads and paths criss-cross it. A couple paths head down to the Mousam River or little fishing areas.

If you would like to walk from the Wells Barren to the plains, your best bet is probably to follow the power lines. You will have to cross a brook (maybe there is a bridge?).

Also to cross from the trails near the pond, which is near Route 99, to the trails off Maguire Road, you have to dip down into a ravine and bushwhack, and cross a little stream. 

Directions: From downtown Kennebunk, take Route 99 northwest; parking is available at the property on the right and on the left. There is also parking off of Maguire Road.

Alewive Woods Preserve, Kennebunk

This 625-acre preserve includes a pond popular with fishermen (at least the day I was there, in May 2016). There are several trails that intersect with the main loop, which is roughly 2 miles. Keep to the blazes. The Kennebunk Land Trust has marked the path to the pond well. I suppose if you’re a local and know which land is passable, the intersecting trails might lead to some nice walks.

Directions: The preserve trailhead is off Cole Road, 3.5 miles west of Interstate 95.

The Secret Garden, Kennebunk

This is a 1.5-mile loop off the Evergreen Cemetery nearly 40 acres of forest and wetlands, owned by the Kennebunk Land Trust.

Directions: Access is from Port Road via The Evergreen Cemetery. Please be respectful if services are underway at the cemetery. Parking is in rear of cemetery. No access to entry by car in winter. Also, the cemetery doesn’t allow dogs, but the preserve does.

Butler Preserve, Kennebunk

Butler Preserve is a mini-walk, a little more than half a mile one way, along the Kennebunk River. The Kennebunk Land Trust trail takes you to some rocky ledges over a deep part of the river, and when I visited in May, 2016, two teenagers were jumping in! The trail follows the river until it ends at Ledgewater Drive.

Directions: Access is from Old Port Road near the corner of Rivers Edge Drive; parking is limited.