Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marginal Way, Ogunquit Maine

A wonderful ocean view in Maine - and accessible too! If you've never been to the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine, consider stopping by on your travels or staying for a weekend in this lovely seaside town. My partner Meb and I just returned from a refreshing getaway there and thoroughly enjoyed some spectacular birding. We love this spot especially because we can leave our home mid-day, get there in 2 hours, and enjoy viewing sea ducks on the water in late afternoon sunlight.

Marginal Way is a 1 1/4 mile stroll along a rocky coast. The path is paved and considered accessible, but caution is necessary and the entire length may not be accessible to everyone due to its length and some aspects. There are 39 benches, so plenty of resting space, each with its fabulous view. At the town end, the view includes the mouth of the Ogunquit River and spectacular waves rolling into a sandy beach. At the Perkins Cove end, enjoy a less dramatic but equally scenic view of a peaceful cove and rocky shoreline extending southward. In between the rocky views and waves and incredible expanse are a total mind clearing delight.

The path is narrow. There are some narrow turns and a some spots with a fairly significant grade for a relatively short distance. Someone to assist if needed is a good choice if you haven any concerns. The pavement is generally in good shape, but there are some divets and more disconcertingly, there is in some spots a downgrade right from the edge of the sidewalk, usually just a few inches of downslope, often paved. So you do have to be careful and watch your wheels and footing, despite the accessibility of the pavement. There are few if any handrails, though parts of the path follow private property fences. If you have any challenge with the entrances to the path (supposedly there are no steps but I forgot to double check on the one entrance we used), there are a couple of side street access points that intersect Marginal Way and offer a few parking spaces with easy access to the path. You don't even have to travel any distance whatsoever if you choose, but you may expect wind so dress for the conditions.

I recommend going off season or early in the day at the height of the summer season. Avoid July through September if you don't want to hassle with crowds, narrow streets, and limited parking. We prefer early spring and late fall, when fewer people are around and the seabird viewing is especially exceptional. Sea ducks winter here and if you have binoculars or a scope, amazing views of harlequin ducks, long-tailed ducks, scoters, loons, mergansers and grebes can be easily obtained. Dogs are not allowed between April 1 and November 1, although I assume service dogs are the exception.

Ogunquit view courtesy of Maribeth Dawkins
Harlequin Ducks courtesy of Eric Reuter and Ducks Unlimited

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