A hiker atop Griffith Head at Reid State Park enjoys the view of Mile Beach. Carey Kish photo

Reid State Park in Georgetown holds the honor as Maine’s first state-owned saltwater beach, the land donated in 1946 by Walter E. Reid, a local resident and businessman. The popular 766-acre park features two brilliant strands of sand beach, maritime woods and wildlife-rich wetlands, and a wonderful under-the-radar 5-mile loop hike.

Situated at the mouth of Sheepscot Bay at the southeastern tip of Georgetown Island, the park’s star attractions are Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach, two of the state’s most beautiful and rare natural gems along this rugged stretch of the Midcoast. The beaches and protective barrier dunes are home to endangered least terns and piping plovers and serve as resting and feeding areas for many other shorebirds.

An 2008 aerial view of Mile Beach at Reid State Park, looking toward the lagoon and Griffith’s Head. At bottom is Todd’s Point with Half Mile Beach beyond. Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

Two rocky headlands, Griffith Head to the northeast and Todd’s Point to the southwest, bookend Mile Beach, which offers sweeping ocean views. From these vantage points, the lighthouses on Sequin Island, the Cuckolds and Hendricks Head are all visible, as are Southport Island and Damariscove Island.

Bounded on the west by the Little River and its extensive salt marshes, the interior of Reid State Park features mixed forest, wetlands and a freshwater pond. For a good walking tour of the park, combine a jaunt over the length of Mile Beach with a hike on the Little River Trail and Ski Loop Trail, a pleasant loop of about 5 miles all told.

The trailhead for your hike is found at the end of Griffith Head Road, where there is a bathhouse; Mile Beach is reached by any of several paths emanating from here.

Scramble up to Griffith Head before striking off down the beach, much of its coarse sand pinkish orange in color from the high feldspar mineral composition. The rhythm of the breaking waves is constant and mesmerizing as you stroll forth. Driftwood, seaweed, shells and various other items washed ashore offer the occasional diversion. And if it’s high summer when you visit and you’re so inclined, a refreshing dip in the sea might well be in order.

From the bathhouse at Todd’s Point, take a short detour to Half Mile Beach, which is reached via a corridor of beach rose and winterberry. The pretty beach reaches out toward the mouth of the Little River, yes, you guessed it, about a half-mile distant.

Returning to the Todd’s Point bathhouse, follow the parking lot north to a grassy track leading to a picnic area with a kiosk in a small field. Angle across the field to find a small brown and white sign, which marks the start of the Little River Trail, one of Maine’s Natural Heritage Hikes. An interpretive guide for the trail is available online through the Maine Natural Areas Program.

The trail wends through the forest along the edge of the salt marsh, then enters a lovely grove of tall white pines and spruce, and soon, crosses a mossy stone wall. The narrow, wooded ridge continues, the path a soft carpet of needles. Ahead, the route undulates somewhat, up and down a series of gullies and along wet areas with boardwalks.

On Mile Beach at Reid State Park looking north east toward Griffith Head. Carey Kish photo

Pass a pair of green water tanks, a round concrete pad and a power line, then saunter downhill to an unsigned junction, the Ski Loop Trail. Bear left here to follow the old woods road, which is marked by blue blazes. Stone walls, an old apple orchard and a foundation hole mark the way ahead, then a wetland and an old stone schoolhouse. Beyond, the trail follows the margin of an unnamed pond and crosses its outlet on a stone causeway. Soon enough, you’ll cross a bridge over a tidal lagoon to reach your vehicle and the end of this fine circuit hike.

If you’re up for more exploring while you’re in the Georgetown area, Maine Audubon’s Josephine Newman Sanctuary along Robinhood Cove has 2 1/2 miles of hiking trails. Several properties of the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust also feature trails, including the Weber-Kelley, Morse Pond and Higgins Mountain preserves. There’s a pleasant network of footpaths at The Nature Conservancy’s Berry Woods Preserve as well. So much to do!

Reid State Park is open year-round. There is a daily entrance fee. Dogs are allowed on leash, but not on the beaches from April through September.

Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @Carey Kish.


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