The term “hiking” is used in the U.S. and Canada. It refers to countryside hiking and hiking in the forest, beside the ocean and, in some cases, up and down a mountain. Other places have other names for hiking. In the United Kingdom, the term “walking” is used for all kinds of walking, including hillwalking and fell-walking. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called “tramping”. The Australian term “bushwalking” refers to both on and off trail hiking. Trekking is the preferred term for hikes that are two days or longer.
Before the 18th Century walking in the countryside for pleasure was unheard of. The fact that a person walked was associated with both poverty and vagrancy. The pleasure of walking happened with an attitude change toward landscape and nature, people saw walking as a thing of pleasure – a way to admire the flora that surrounded them. Today walking/hiking takes on more than a view, it also embraces a need to stay physically fit. In the Kennebunkport area, we have some really beautiful hikes/walks for those who want to see another side of this southern Maine coast.
One of the easiest, and most scenic walks in the area is the Parson’s Way Shore Walk. The pathway runs adjacent to Ocean Avenue. Start at The Colony Beach and proceed along Ocean Avenue walking away from Dock Square. There are benches along the way if you want to sit and take in the sounds of the ocean. You walk by St Anne’s Church and if open, you can detour in to see the church and snap pictures of the water out over the rocky coastline. Carry on past the Bushes summer home at Walker’s Point. Either turn around and head back to Dock Square here or you can take the long loop by continuing past Turbat’s Creek and take a left onto Wildes District Road to head back to Dock Square for a 4.8 mile walk.
Kennebunk Land Trust has nearly 40 acres of forests and wetlands and, within those acres, there are nine hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate. Each of the nine is nearby and unique in their own way. The trails that are less than a mile each are Clark Preserve, Mousam River Wildlife Sanctuary, Sea Road Preserve, Butler Preserve, and Madelyn Marx Preserve. The other four are more than a mile and listed below.
- The Secret Garden is a 1.5 mile trail loop that is easy to moderate. It weaves through forest, extensive fern beds, and bog areas. Access is from Port Road via the Evergreen Cemetery. Parking is in the rear of the cemetery.
- Wonder Brook Murphy Preserve is a 2.5 mile trail that is moderate. The trail threads through upland forest and fern beds. It crosses a brook and streams that lead to the banks of the Kennebunk River near the head of tide. The preserve is quiet and picturesque. It is 0.5 mile east of downtown Kennebunk at the end of Plummer Lane which is off Summer Street. Parking is available.
- Alewive Woods Preserve is a 2.5 mile trail that brings hikers to a 45-acre pond. The hike is easy to moderate. The forested, scrub pine provides habitat to a variety of wildlife. There is blueberry picking in the summer. The preserve is just off Cole Road. Take Rt. 35 north of Kennebunk. Cross 1-95 and bear left onto Alfred Road and continue for 3 miles, then bear right onto Cole Road.
- Kennebunk Wildlife Management Area is a 3 mile easy-to-walk gravel road with much to observe. It is managed for many unique and rare bird species such as the endangered Grasshopper Sparrow. Also there is the world’s largest population of Northern Blazing Star Wildflower, a threatened flowering plant that blooms in August and September. Access is from Rt. 99. Parking is available at the property.
The Wells Reserve Trail System at Laudholm Farm not only offers a scenic view, it also offers an educational value. In the 7 miles of easy to moderate hiking trails, the landscape varies from seeing wildlife habitats, barrier beaches, coastal mudflats, and mature Maine forest. Follow the Salt Marsh loop and see where fresh water mixes with salt water from the Gulf of Maine. You can explore the diversity of the forest and walk the sandy shores of Laudholm Beach. The Wells Reserve is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and lovers of wildlife and only a 20 minute drive from the 1802 House.
If you want to venture a little further south of Kennebunkport, the Marginal Way in Ogunquit is only a 30 minute drive. Originally built in 1925, but fully restored in 1990s, this paved walking trail runs from Perkins Cove in the South to the middle of Shore Road. While it may seem short at only 1.25 miles long, it captures spectacular views of the Maine coast and the town of Ogunquit. Also, along the walk there are 40 memorial benches placed strategically at best viewpoints.
Bring your walking shoes when you next come to Kennebunkport and get out and explore the natural beauty that can be found on our trails.