QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 66 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~.8 miles of trails
- Pets: no
- Difficulty: easy
- Sights: Kennebunk River, shrines, town
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.