Prouts Neck Cliff Walk, with Ferry and Scarborough Beaches, Scarborough

I have done this cliff-plus-beach walk a thousand times I think, starting when I was just two. It is a beloved favorite of my family and many Mainers. The ponds behind Scarborough Beach also make for great ice skating. The people who live in Prouts Neck are generous for sharing this beautiful, historical peninsula with the public. But the best time to walk here is the off-season, when most of the residents have closed up their homes and returned to their other mansions, and the tourists have gone as well (not that we don’t appreciate tourists in Maine! We certainly do. And out-of-staters).

What’s particularly cool about this place is the several shingle-style homes designed by John Calvin Stevens that perch above the cliffs. The narrow trail that skirts the sea in front of the grand homes sometimes disappears briefly along stretches of pebbly beaches. Tucked in the heart of the peninsula, in the middle of the curving, narrow lanes and old homes, is a bird sanctuary and boardwalk. Winslow Homer also lived and painted here.

To find the start of the cliff walk, take a left onto Beach Road, which is roughly .9 miles from the intersection of Spurwink Road. The path starts by the side of a shed, where the road makes a sharp curve. It comes out at the end of Winslow Homer Road (also the end of Black Point Road).

There is no need to do the entire 4.3-mile loop, which encompasses the sandy stretches of Ferry and Scarborough beaches, although they make for breathtaking bookends to the cliff walk. You can just do the loop along the edge of the peninsula, circling back through the lovely old neighborhood. To find the bird sanctuary and boardwalk, look for Library Lane; the trailhead is about half way down the short road.

Directions: Scarborough Beach has a parking lot off of Black Point Road, about a mile from the intersection with Spurwink Road. Ferry Beach’s parking lot is about. 4 miles farther on. Take a right off Black Point Road onto Ferry Road and drive to the end. I recommend parking in one of the two beach parking lots when visiting here (there are fees). Parking on the rest of the peninsula is very difficult, if not impossible.

Be warned, do not speed here! The place is well patrolled by police.