1-minute hike: Sandy Point Beach Park, Stockton Springs, Maine

Difficulty: Easy. The trail network, as of July 2012, is a little less than 2 miles of walking, and there is no real change in elevation.

How to get there: In Stockton Springs, take US-1 to Steamboat Warf Road. If you’re coming from the south, Steamboat Warf Road will be on your right after Pirates Cove Road. If you are coming from the north, Steamboat Warf Road will be on your left after Sandy Point Road. Drive to the end of Steamboat Warf Road to a small gravel parking lot. The Sandy Point Beach Park trail network begins at the end of the parking lot. You can also access Sandy Point Beach from the parking lot.

A short distance down the wide, sunlit trail, a side trail shoots off to the right. Go check that out if you want (it’s a dead end). Stay on the main trail and you will reach a trail juncture. Turn left (towards the beach) and you will come to a bench at a scenic overlook. Turn right at the juncture to stay on the main trail. Soon you will reach signs to the Amazon Trail and Shore Trail on your left (and a little wooden bridge). The Amazon Trail will bring you on a big loop to the other end of the park, to where Amazon Steam enters the Atlantic Ocean. The entire Amazon Trail loop is just more than 1 mile long, and at the far end of the loop, you can enter the Shore Trail loop, which will lead you along the coast and back to the Amazon Loop in about 0.5 mile. (See maps at the bottom of the page.)

Information: Sandy Point Beach Park is located on French’s Point, where the Penobscot River enters the Penobscot Bay. This beautiful place has a rich history. Artifacts found along the shoreline indicate that it was once a summering and trading spot for Paleolithic people and, later, the Penobscot Native Americans. During the American Revolution, a major naval battle took place in nearby waters, where 39 American vessels were lost.

For a long time, this site was bustling with industry. In the 19tth century, several shipyards that built schooners were on Sandy Point Beach, and a sawmill bordered the north end.  And during WWI, the US Department of War built a shipyard on the south side of the beach. In the early 20th century, a passenger steamboat line made a stop at Sandy Point, and the remains of its wharf can be seen mid-beach at low tide. The more visible pilings (closer to the bay) are from a second pier constructed mid-century for a fertilizer plant that operated into the early 1970s. Today, osprey and other birds nest on these pilings.

Sandy Point Beach Park, a state property managed by the Town of Stockton Springs, was established in 1990 when 96 acres were purchased with Land for Maine’s Future funds. Eight additional acres were gifted by Sandy Point residents in 2003. People now come to the beach and park for its natural beauty. As of July 2012, the trails developed on the property add up to a length of about 2 miles, including side trails.

Personal note: Wear bug repellant during blackfly and mosquito season. The Amazon Trail and Shore Trail travel through marshy forest, perfect breeding grounds for pesky bugs. Wear waterproof hiking shoes or plan on getting your feet a little wet. While trail builders have done an amazing job constructing a series of wooden bridges over the boggiest spots, I still found myself stepping in water and mud from time to time. If you want to see the osprey nesting near the beach, bring binoculars or a camera with a good zoom. When people walk too close to the nest, it stresses the birds out, and they will usually circle the area until you leave. As of July 1, 2012, two osprey young were in the nest, as well as two adult osprey.

Photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. The Amazon Trail in Sandy Point Beach Park on July 1, 2012.

Maps:

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Professionally, Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the "Outdoor" and "Living" pages. She's a wilderness romper and fashion-forward bookworm.