Ferry Beach State Park is located between Old Orchard Beach and Camp Ellis in Saco. Long before highways were common north of Boston, beaches provided travelers relatively safe and easy transportation routes. A ferry crossing at nearby Saco River served beach travelers, and thus Ferry Beach State Park received its name. This small 117 acre park offers several activities for people of all ages from picnicking and hiking to swimming on a white sand ocean beach.
There is a 1.7 mile network of trails that for the most part are barrier free and pass through varied ecosystems. The Tupelo Trail (0.4 miles) begins at the trailhead and traverses through a tupelo swamp on a raised boardwalk. Along this trail, there is a large stand of Tupelo trees (also known as a black gum tree). This tree is very rare in Maine and is one of the largest stands of trees at this latitude level. The swamp is also home to a many high bush blueberry plants, whose berries provide important late summer and early fall food for numerous birds and mammals.
The Red Oak (0.1 miles) and White Oak (0.4 miles) Trails pass through a deciduous forest dominated by oaks. These trees' acorns also provide an excellent food source for animals to better survive in Maine's harsh winter.
The Greenbriar (0.1 miles) and Witchhazel (0.1 miles) Trails pass through a coniferous forest dominated by the pine and hemlock trees. These canopied forests are important winter habitat for many mammals and animals providing some protection from wind and snow in the winter months.
After hiking the trails, visitors can sit at one of the many picnic tables with grills and enjoy an afternoon lunch. There is also a covered shelter at the park, available to groups for rental from the park staff for a nominal fee. After lunch, visitors can walk through an underpass on ME Route 9 to Ferry Beach's white sand beach to swim, sunbathe, or fish. The dunes between the beach and the road provide a very important barrier to prevent erosion along the beach and also nesting sights for many bird species. Visitors are asked to stay off of this fragile environment for the protection of both.
Guided nature programs are offered when the park is staffed. These programs includes walks for large groups, are free with paid admission, and can be scheduled ahead of time. Walks include talks on the flora and fauna of the area, the unique ecosystem of the park, the history of the area, and many other topics. These walks are interactive and enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.
Ferry Beach State Park is open seasonally between April and October. Pets are welcome at the park on a 4-foot leash but are not allowed on the beach from April 1- September 30. Visitors are welcomed to use the trails and beach in the off-season and are asked to park well off from the road.
Ferry Beach State Park is an excellent area to cross-country ski, snowshoe, or skate at Long Pond in the winter months.
Natural Heritage Hikes is a project of the Maine Natural Areas Program in partnership with Maine Trail Finder. View the "Ferry Beach State Park - Tupelo Trail, Read Oak Trail, and White Oak Trail" guide online here.
Visit Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands online for more information or contact:
Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Saco
From North or South: From US Route 1 in Saco, head east on I-195 toward Old Orchard Beach. I-195 becomes ME Route 5. In another 0.8 miles ME Route 5 bears left, but continue straight onto Temple Avenue and follow Temple Ave 1.2 miles to blinking stop light at ME Route 9. Turn right on ME Route 9/West Grand Ave, and continue a mile before turning right onto Bayview Road. Continue of Bayview Road 0.3 miles to the park entrance which will be on your left. Follow park entrance road to parking lot and trail head.
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