Day Tripping: The Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area
Once again, We're talking about spots that us Mainers can go, in state, and act like a bit of a tourist without having any flatlanders around mucking up the beauty. So let's take a trip down memory lane and get acquainted with this week's destination!
Years ago, when I lived in southern Maine, a friend of mine and I were itching to do something on Saturday morning as we were sipping coffee and waiting for breakfast in our favorite spot. We went through a handful of the usual suggestions at the time, and nothing seemed quite right. Then he suggested a hike down to Seawall Beach via the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg.
Over breakfast, he told me all about the basic idea of the hike, and that it's really a two-fer. You start out crossing a salt marsh, and ascend a small 180 foot hill that winds it's way back down to an amazing beach, that the rest of the world somehow barely knows about. So naturally I got super excited.
And it really is all it's storied to be. When you emerge from the trail you walk out onto a beach that pretty much spreads out on either side of the trail forever. Make sure to bring plenty of bug spray to keep you free of biting flies until you hit the beach and the sea breeze can help offer a bit of relief. And of course, sun screen when you get there.
Which brings us to a couple fairly important points....the beach is open to the public, but it is privately owned, so there are a few rules that should be observed to respect the owners. For instance, dogs are not permitted at the beach. As well as no camping, fires, or bicycles. Also, please don't bring beach balls, frisbees, or umbrellas. Hence, the extra sunscreen.
Also, it's not a state park or anything like that. So there are no bathroom facilities. Popham Beach is close by, to the point of even being able to wade over to it, but the current in the river in between can be unsafe to navigate on foot during certain tidal conditions. See a complete list of rules right here.
But seriously, the walk through the marsh, up the tiny mountain, and out onto the beach will take your breath away the first time you go there. Just bring plenty of snacks and water, and whatever else you'll need to enjoy yourself. You'll feel like you pretty much have the place to yourself.
The thing I love most about this spot, is that there are virtually no tourists. If there are, they're usually there with someone local who knows about the spot. Even if you pull in and see 30 cars in the lot and along the road, you'll be surprised how few people it feels like once you get moving. It'll feel like you're own little private beach. And in a state where seaside privacy usually comes at a premium, that's awesome. Here's directions on how to get there.
So get on down there. From the Bangor area, it's only about two and half to three hours by car. And if you don't feel like doing it all in one day, there are plenty of overnight options in the Bath/Brunswick area, which is only about a half hour away from there. So wrangle up the fam-damily, pack up cooler, and hit the road for the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area!