Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center
GOOD FOR: Ages 5-8, Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:136 Pine Point Road, Scarborough
Hours:9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m., June–Labor Day and special occasions
Fee: Free; canoe and kayak rentals available
Bathrooms: At the Nature Center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain at the nature center; snacks at the nature store

USGS Cumberland County quad; Maine Atlas and Gazetteer, Map 3: B3 (DeLorme)

Explore Maine’s largest saltwater marsh and get up-close-and-personal with a dazzling array of wildlife.

Bring your own canoe or kayak to Scarborough Marsh or rent one, in season, at the Nature Center.

The Scarborough Marsh estuary boasts the state’s largest salt marsh and excellent paddling opportunities that get you up-close-and-personal with a dazzling array of wildlife. When you arrive, take the time to explore the Nature Center, which features exhibits, a nature store, walking trails, and canoe rentals, as well as knowledgeable volunteers who will help guide you toward the estuary’s best features.

Rent kayaks or canoes in season, or launch your own. Because the Nature Center and boat launch are located approximately in the middle of the 2,700 acres of marsh, you can choose to head inland or toward the sea. There are two things to take into consideration when making your choice—the tide and the current. Paddling against the tide on the leg out, when you have the most energy, is a good idea as the tide and current will help you return on the leg back. Keep in mind that paddling toward the sea will take you into waters with stronger current and potentially some chop. The distance from the Nature Center to the mouth of the harbor is approximately 4 miles. For a shorter paddle, turn around at the bridge to the Eastern Trail (Trip 2), which is 1.3 miles from the Nature Center.

Paddling inland offers more protection. Unless you and your children are skilled paddlers, stay inland. Head toward Route 1, which is approximately a 2-mile paddle from the Nature Center. The marsh’s multiple small channels give the estuary a maze-like quality that children love. The more narrow the channel, however, the more likely it will dead-end. Stick to wider channels if you want to avoid backtracking.

Encourage children to have some quiet time along the route to fully experience this rich ecosystem. An amazing array of wildlife depends on this habitat for food and shelter, including egrets, herons, glossy ibises, muskrats, minks, and otters. The quieter and more still you can be, the higher the likelihood you will spot an animal you have never seen before.

While the opportunities for exploring the marsh seem limitless, eventually it will be time to turn your boat around and return to the center. Whether you choose to head toward sea or stay inland, remain mindful of the tides, and plan your return trip accordingly.

Plan B:

Consider stretching your legs on the self-guided nature trail that leaves from the back deck of the Nature Center. Pick up a detailed brochure, which provides natural history information corresponding with the eleven marked stations along the trail. Find additional nearby walking and biking opportunities along the Eastern Trail (Trip 2).

Where to Eat Nearby:

For a bite to eat, head back to US 1 in Scarborough.



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