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Gorham area hikes: Scarborough Marsh

by Jeffrey Ryan

If you’ve been following my hiking series, you’ve probably noted that I have been pretty faithful to staying within a few miles of Gorham Village. This week, I decided to take a stroll a little further afield by visiting a stretch of the Eastern Trail in Scarborough. It was a nice day, so I expected a fairly crowded trailhead. I was right, but I still didn’t have a problem finding a parking space. And the trail wasn’t crowded either. With miles to explore on foot or on bicycle, people disperse pretty quickly.

If you haven’t walked on the Eastern Trail, you’re in for a treat. The path largely follows the railroad bed of the old Eastern Railroad, the first railroad to connect Boston to Portland, which operated from 1842 to 1945. The Eastern Trail (which extends from Bug Light Park in South Portland to Kittery) is actually part of a 3,000-mile trail known as the East Coast Greenway, which extends from Key West, Florida to Calais, Maine. 

What is fascinating about this area of Scarborough is that the railroad wasn’t the only transportation system that made its mark here. In fact, adjacent to the marsh (where the Scarborough Industrial Park now stands) was the site of the first Portland Airport. Charles Lindbergh flew into the airport twice in the 1930s before the airport moved to its current Stroudwater location.

On this bluebird sky day, my friend, Rick, met me with a couple of crabmeat sandwiches in hand. We ambled north to the metal pedestrian bridge, then scrambled down the bank to sit on a few rocks while we ate. It was near high tide and we saw something neither of us had ever seen in this part of the marsh — a small power boat with a striper fisherman at the helm. It wasn’t long before he headed back downstream, and solitude prevailed.    

Back on the trail, we walked a few miles north, passing through the marsh into a wooded section bordering Willowdale Golf Club and eventually arriving at Black Point Road, where we turned back toward our parking spot. Highlights along the way included several ibis and heron sightings and a stunning array of spring colors.

If you go, please beware that noontime is the most popular time for folks to be out. A midmorning or midafternoon arrival is your best bet.

The trail is 4-miles with a trail rating of easy. The property is managed by Eastern Trail Alliance. For more information visit www.easterntrail.org and www.MaineTrailFinder.com.

Jeffrey Ryan is a Maine-based hiker, photographer, public speaker and author of several books about the outdoors. Learn more at www.JeffRyanAuthor.com. 

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