Exploring Maine Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary with Justin Chase


Justin Chase is a regular guest blogger here at L.L.Bean Trailmix, as well as the writer of one of our favorite outdoor blogs, Outdoors, by Cracky! Last year, Justin wrote about a family visit to Maine Audubon’s Hamilton Sanctuary. We received so much great feedback about his post and photos, we invited him to share another adventure with our readers.

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Jutting into the ocean along the southern end of Saco Bay is Maine Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary. With its short, mellow trails and rocky, slabby shoreline, the small preserve in the town of Biddeford, Maine, proved an awesome spot to get outdoors with my family and explore some of Maine’s rugged coast.

From a modest trailhead alongside Ocean Ave., we made our way past a hedgerow of budding forsythia and lilac, while surf roared dully in the distance. Gulls glided on thermals overhead and finches and nuthatches fluttered in and out of bare limbs all around.

Hiking the trail at East Point

The trail quickly opened to a vast and grassy raised peninsula overlooking the ocean to the east and Wood Island Harbor to the north. Sweeping views and fresh, salty air rising from the surf below greeted us so grandly we stopped in our path for a moment of quiet appreciation. Even our boys stood still long enough to take it all in.

Mom with the boys

We walked together across the open field to a thoughtfully placed gangplank that led us down to the water’s edge. Waves rolled in with an incoming tide and broke against massive and chunky outcroppings of speckled granite and smooth basalt. A low and scattered cloud cover stretched out to the horizon, filling the sky with as many grays, whites and blues as lay below. Lobster boats cruised a channel just offshore, while cackling gulls trailed closely behind. The entire scene was perfectly spring, and perfectly Maine.

Breaking Waves

We scrambled up boulders and peered into deep cracks where mussels and algae clung to damp rock. Tide pools littered the area, filled with life of all sorts – green and brown rockweed, periwinkle snails and tiny hermit crabs seeking shelter while young. We explored it all, respectfully admiring the diversity of life in small spaces and how each creature earns a living in such a dynamic place.

Justin and the boys

Tide pools

The tide came in around us while we played. Fresh, cold saltwater washed over pools and filled cracks and small caves we had previously explored. Waves crashed higher into the air, sending salty mist swirling about. With slick rocks and strong surge pushing in, we moved up shore and safely onto a beach of smooth stones and gray sand. Retreating waves pulled stones from the beach with a toppling sound that quickly taught us how they had become smooth and similarly sized and shaped. We rested on the beach and noted the simple gifts of the day: crashing waves without wind, sand that didn’t stick and bright sun that didn’t burn.

Searching for crabs

Walking around the point, under a bright midday sky and up and over crags and slabs, we made our way back to the far side of the field. Climbing up and away from the water, I reflected on our time together at the sanctuary. Maine Audubon does a great job, but they outdid themselves with East Point. During our short visit we enjoyed some much-needed time away from home and all its distractions. The boys learned a ton about the natural world. It’s a good thing we skipped school and drove up to Maine.

Exploring the rocky shore

When do you plan on exploring Maine Audubon’s East Point Sanctuary?

 

 




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