State parks, land trusts, sanctuaries and preserves - Maine protects its stunning nature, but it lets us in. Up and down the coast scenic attractions abound, starting right here in Waldoboro where lodging means Le Vatout; they're beckoning you with beauty to explore further, whether you're heading "down-east" or going back southwest.
The Medomak Valley Land Trust
Founded in 1991 to preserve and protect the natural, recreational, scenic and traditional land use values of the Medomak River Watershed.
Osborn Finch Wildlife Sanctuary
It's a fairy forest! It's a forgotten coast line! It's magical. 11 acres of land on Dutch Neck Road, with approximately 300 feet of tidal frontage on the Medomak River and a half mile long trail through a grassy field and an ancient forest studded with mossy boulders. Trails are maintained by the Pemaquid Watershed Association and open to the public.
> Thomaston (13 miles East – app. 20 minutes)
Thomaston Town Forest, Baker Woods, and Oyster River Bog
Traverse the remote woods and meadows that surround the Oyster River Bog, one of the most unique features in the Georges River watershed. The 225-square-mile Georges River watershed is a unique and historic area of mountains, sea coast, lakes, tidal streams and inlets. The watershed extends from Montville to Port Clyde where the 51-mile-long river flows into Muscongus Bay.
A birder's paradise, this estuary includes about 1,100 acres of brackish tidal marsh, saltmarsh, tidal flats, and eelgrass beds tucked behind downtown Rockland and extending through the heart of South Thomaston. Thousands of birds pass through here to feed and roost.
> Rockland (15 miles East – app. 20 minutes)
Birch Point Beach State Park
Majestic views of Penobscot Bay and the islands that lay past Mussel Ridge Channel. You can enjoy fishing or picnicking while taking in the view, or during gentle surf conditions, take a quick swim in the Atlantic Ocean. The Park has a wonderful sandy beach, which is very inviting. Off Route 73, Dublin Road to Ballyhoc Road. Approximately 7 miles from downtown Rockland.
The most remote of the inhabited year-round islands in Penobscot Bay, Matinicus is an Indian name meaning alternatively "grassy islands" or "the place of the wild turkeys." Matinicus Harbor is one of the few in Maine that's home to almost exclusively working vessels. It's almost two miles long and one mile wide, with about 750 acres filled with hundreds of species of plants. The shores are rocky—the eastern shore being mostly granite—but there are two large beaches with beautiful fine graying-white sand and numerous small pebble beaches
> Rockport (18 miles East – app. 25 minutes)
Georges River Watershed
Rockport has two access points to the Ragged Mountain Trails that are part of the Georges River watershed: Route 17 is the approach for Spruce Mountain to the south, and Ragged Mountain to the north. The Thorndike Brook access, on Hope Street, gives access to Ragged Mountain on the Thorndike Brook section. The Mount Pleasant Farm access is available at the Path's crossing of Mt. Pleasant Street in Rockport.
> Camden (20 miles Northeast – app. 30 minutes)
Camden Hills State Park
Camden Hills State Park signature location is the scenic vista high atop Mt. Battie where sweeping views of Camden, Penobscot Bay, and surrounding islands await. On a clear day, visitors can see Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. Mt. Megunticook, the highest of the Camden Hills - and highest peak on the mainland - is a moderate climb by foot trail. The park features 30 miles of hiking trails with access from five major trailheads!
Fernald's Neck Preserve
Dominated by thick stands of pine and hardwoods, Fernald's Neck Preserve covers most of a large peninsula that juts into the north end of Megunticook Lake. Nearly three miles of shoreline are protected by the preserve. Its uninterrupted forests and 60-foot cliffs are particularly impressive when viewed from the water. From Route 1 in Camden take route 52 about 4 miles to Fernald's Neck Road. Just beyond the Youngstown Inn, bear left at at the fork in the road. Continue past the grey farmhouse and park in the hay field near the woods.
Sixty-six acre garden and nature preserve, including trails, an arboretum, woodlands, and a gazebo for picnics. Open year-round, sunrise to sunset. Free admission.
Barrett's Cove Beach
Lake-side beach with spectacular view of sheer mountain cliffs rising overhead. Despite Camden's heavy tourist traffic, it's not all that crowded, especially on weekdays. There's a grassy area nearby and picnic tables for lunch. There are portable bathrooms, but it's a good idea to get into your swimsuit before you arrive. Beaucaire Ave., off Rte. 52 at Megunticook Lake, Camden.
> Stockton Springs (48 miles Northeast – 80 minutes)
Fort Point Lighthouse
Overlooking Penobscot bay, the lighthouse was built in 1857. Later, a bell tower, a barn and an oil house were added. All of these buildings are still standing, making Fort Point Light an unusually well-preserved light station. The pyramidal bell tower is one of the few left in New England and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
> Prospect (53 miles Northeast – 80 minutes)
Standing watch of the Penobscot River and built of granite from Mt. Waldo in Frankfort, Fort Knox is one of the best preserved fortifications on the New England seacoast and a popular destination. Interested in exploring the many tunnels and underground passageways? Bring a flashlight! Fort Knox is open May 1 - October 31, from 9:00 - sunset and the grounds are open year round.
Penobscot Narrows Observatory
A one minute ride on the zippy elevator will take you to the top of the tallest public bridge-observatory in the world. As the elevator door slides open to a dizzying view from 420 feet up, you'll be dazzled by he beauty of the Penobscot River and the surrounding countryside. Ascend two more levels to get the full, 360 degrees view.
> Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park (95 miles Northeast – app. 2 hours)
Acadia National Park
Yes, it's a doable daytrip from Le Vatout - though during the height of the season those 2 hours can double easily. But it's so worth it! Even if you have only a half a day, you can do the loop and catch the view from Cadillac Mountain, relax at the gorgeous Sand Beach and listen to the roar of the water at Thunder Hole.
> Owls Head (20 miles East – app. 35 minutes)
Owls Head Light State Park
High on a promontory, this short, brick tower offers stunning views. The keeper's house is a residence for a Coast Guard family, but it sits in a forested state park open to the public with restrooms, trails, and a small beach. Good birding spot. North Shore Drive off Route 73 and follow signs.
> Port Clyde (27 miles Southeast – app. 50 minutes)
Marshall Point Light
Remember the scene in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump when Tom Hanks ended his cross-country run at a lighthouse? That was Marshall Point. The lighthouse is still an active Coast Guard aid to navigation. You can visit the lighthouse and grounds all year; the museum is open from May to October. You can also view Marshall Point Light from the Port Clyde-Monhegan Island ferry.
“The island that time forgot” is undoubtedly the most famous island in Maine, thanks in large measure to the art of George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Jamie Wyeth, and many others who have been drawn to paint its dramatic cliffs—the highest on the New England coast. There are no roads or cars and most of it is a nature preserve with 17 miles of trails, breathtaking walks and plenty of vistas you’ll want to sketch or capture with your camera. For those of you less inclined to clamber, there’s an artists' colony, a museum, a swimming beach (for hardy souls who like cold ocean water), and yet another lighthouse to make this a more than memorable trip. Daytrips to Monhegan by boat from Port Clyde.
> Jefferson (9 miles Northwest – app. 15 minutes)
Damariscotta Lake State Park
Enjoy picnicking and swimming at one of midcoast Maine's most popular day use parks located on beautiful Damariscotta Lake in Jefferson. The park offers picnicking, a beach, swimming and boating.
> Damariscotta (10 miles Southwest – app. 15 minutes)
Whale Back Shell Midden
A shell midden is essentially a rubbish dump in coastal areas, and it consists of discarded shells along with a sprinkling of bones, ceramic pots, and stone tools. The upper Damariscotta River is famous for its enormous oyster shell heaps, created by Native Americans over a period of about a thousand years, between 2,200 and 1,000 years ago. Whale Back is what's left of such a dump. A state historic site, it's located on Business Rt. 1 in the Round Top Farm area and well worth a visit. There's plenty of parking, some historical displays and a hiking trail. And then, there is the view!
Salt Bay Farm
100 acre farm includes over one mile of shorefront, extensive wetlands providing both fresh and saltwater habitats, and rolling fields that have been worked for 200 years. It is home to a wide variety of plants and wildlife and affords spectacular views across the bay. The property is open to the public for pedestrian use daily from dawn to dusk. Walkers and skiers are encouraged to take advantage of this unique property.
>Newcastle (11 miles Southwest – app. 15 minutes)
Castle Rock Farm Trail (Newcastle)
Hike 1.25 miles through woods to Deer Meadow Brook. Deer, coyote, beaver, otter, moose are plentiful. Cardinal flowers and purple-fringed orchids flourish near the brook.
Dodge Point State Park (Newcastle)
Open year round, Dodge Point is a favorite for locals as well as out of state visitors. The area is a quiet reprieve from the more hectic, more crowded areas that surround it. It offers a small network of trails which double as cross-country paths in winter. Visitors will be treated to sights of a healthy estuary, lovely thin woodland, the beautiful Damariscotta River and an historic ice pond. Off River Rd. in Newcastle.
> New Harbor (18 miles South – app. 35 minutes)
Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve
Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, is credited with the start of the environmental movement and this lovely preserve, dedicated to Rachel, was the first Maine project by The Nature Conservancy. Enjoy its 40 acres on several hiking trails and around the famous tide pool, as the tides flush and replenish life in the salt pond.
> Bristol (19 miles Southwest – app. 35 minutes)
This National Historic Landmark offers a wonderful view of the Atlantic Ocean, Pemaquid Harbor, and Johns Bay… and then some! Extensive archaeological excavations unearthed 14 foundations of 17th- and 18th-century structures and the officers' quarters for Fort William Henry and Fort Frederick. Now a museum displays hundreds of the artifacts found on the site, dating from prehistoric times through the colonial period.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
Rising above crashing surf and spectacular rock formations, the Pemaquid Light is a cultural and historical treasure. If you only have time for one thing, this is it. Go.
Moxie Cove Picnic Area
A secluded cove, shaded by Spruce trees, just a stone's throw from Round Pond. With views of lobster boats in the distance, Moxie Cove has been a favorite of locals for summer picnics. There's salt water access, too (but not at dead low tide), so you can bring a kayak or canoe and explore.
> Wiscasset (18 miles Southwest – app. 20 minutes)
The Morris Farm Trust
Both a working farm and an educational resource for the communities of mid coast Maine. 50 certified organic acres support a demonstration and educational garden, pastured poultry, pigs, cows, sheep, four draft horses and three dozen laying hens. The remaining 10 acres of land are wooded and feature an interpretive trail that connects to an adjacent forest.
> Boothbay/Boothbay Harbor (28 miles Southwest – app. 35 minutes)
Burnt Island Light
Right at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor, Burnt Island Light is clearly seen from many of the harbor cruises and other boats leaving Boothbay Harbor. The attractive station is seen by thousands of tourists each year and is a highlight of one of the prettiest harbors in Maine.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
You can spend a couple of hours or days, weeks, even years getting to know this remarkable place. And just when you think you’ve got it pegged, you discover something new and different, a plant you never noticed before, a trick of the light on a piece of sculpture or on the water, a new flurry of fairy houses.
> Phippsburg (31 miles Southwest – app. 50 minutes)
Popham Beach State Park:
Popham Beach State Park is one of Maine's rare geologic landforms that features a long stretch of sand beach. Sunbathers relaxing on Popham's sands can see Fox and Wood islands offshore, and the Kennebec and Morse rivers border each end of the beach. Visitors can walk to Fox Island at low tide, but are warned to pay attention to the rising tides not to get marooned. The rolling Atlantic surf draws thousands of swimmers and surfers alike, and shell collecting is a pasttime of many a sea side stroller. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, but beachgoers should note that this is a strong surf beach with undertows and occasional rip tides.
> Georgetown (32 miles Southwest – app. 50 minutes)
Reid State Park
You'll love the park's long, wide sand beaches like Mile and Half Mile, so rare in Maine. Enjoyed as a recreational resource, the beaches are also essential nesting areas for endangered least terns and piping plovers and resting and feeding areas for other shorebirds. From the top of Griffith Head, a rocky headland overlooking the park, you can view sweeping seascapes and spot the lighthouses on Seguin Island, The Cuckolds, and Hendricks Head.