Thursday, March 29, 2012

Walking on the Wild Side at Rachel Carson NWR

Just returned from a few days in Maine where I checked out the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells and discovered a beautiful accessible nature trail. If you are looking for a dose of nature by the sea, this is a great place to view birds and wildlife. My partner Meb and I enjoyed the trail on a very windy day, so our sightings were limited to a few pairs of Canada geese, windblown crows, and a newly arrived phoebe with a huge bee in its beak. Having explored the Landholm Farm property adjacent to this one on other excursions, we can vouch for otters in the river and marsh hawks over the wetland. One of these days we'll have to go back for the rich experience of May, when bird migration is in full swing.

The trailhead with a modest visitor center is located on Old Port Road, just off of Route 1, where a sign indicates the refuge nearby. Its a shaded trail in and along a forest edge made of packed stone dust with side boards. The mile long trail travels the edge of the salt marsh in a big loop, with stunning views of the surrounding wetland and a river heading to the sea, which is visible at a distance. Eleven stations along the self-guided path offer numbered stops, most of which are viewing platforms with spectacular views of the meandering marshland and river. If you bring the trail brochure from the box at the parking lot, you can read about natural highlights at each stop.

The trail is in great shape, but be aware that several of the platform edges have experienced slight erosion so if you are using a wheelchair, there is a minor threshold-like bump up onto the deck in some spots.  We met some locals who said the trail gets submerged quite a bit in winter and that the other three seasons see regular use by people with disabilities. Other trail users reported seeing an exceptionally large otter.

If I lived nearby I'd be visiting there a lot.The place is a real tribute to Rachel Carson, whose writing made the complexities of ocean science understandable to the general public in the 1950s. Her controversial book Silent Spring, in which she exposed the threats of pesticide use to the natural world and humankind, launched a new era in conservation 50 years ago. Her courageous educational efforts inspired a public outcry that lead to the banning of the pesticide DDT and saved many bird species from extinction. Something to appreciate when listening to the songs of robins in your neighborhood this spring - or taking a walk on an accessible trail!


Ashley Berard said...

I love your blog! And I love the reason why you blog! I have a daughter with Autism and TSC and have been sharing with her my love of the outdoors since infancy, before I knew she had either.

I know that hiking, fishing, and just plain getting dirty have been beneficial tools in her developement. I have a firm belief that using natural settings as a therapy tool can help with many other types of disabilities as well.

Great work! :)

Marcy Marchello said...

Thanks Ashley! Glad you found EO! Thanks for the vote of support. Have fun out there!