Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Seawall Beach
A little corner of Maine I’d like to highlight is Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Seawall Beach in Phippsburg, a privately owned beach and conservation area that is open for public use, with caveats. 1) Visitors must hike 2 miles to the beach (my favorite part, since this automatically eliminates over-crowding and over-use); 2) Visitors are not permitted to bring pets or common beach items such as umbrellas, beach balls, toys, etc.; 3) Visitors are not permitted to have fires or camp overnight; 4) Once the small parking lot is full, no one else is allowed past the gate until a vehicle vacates the lot (of course, you can hike up sans car if you so choose, but you can’t park along Route 216 or anywhere along the Morse Mountain Road); 5) No amenities are provided (i.e. snack booth, restrooms, picnic areas).
The restrictions and 2 mile walk are well worth it; hikers walk through the marshland conservation area where seabirds are spotted, coastal coniferous forest, up to the viewpoint of Morse Mountain overlooking Sprague River and its outlet and what awaits is a clean, quiet and pristine seascape that feels like it’s only for you, especially in winter. The first time I went, it was the Summer Equinox and I was eaten alive by bugs, until I got to the safety of the ocean’s breeze. I hiked in, selected a spot, and read my book for a while, enjoying the bright, warm day. The next few times, I went in winter and it was even more magical. Not a soul in sight, mild weather and colors that absolutely popped in the crisp winter light. Both photos were shot during this past winter.
Seawall is a treat. One that should be respected, preserved and enjoyed. I have shared with close friends how Seawall is a must visit and it is a wonderful place for people who want to get away from the crowds of common beach tourists, enjoy a nature walk, and revel in the beauty that is the Maine coast. I’m sure mine will not be the only essay highlighting Seawall and all it has to offer. A hidden treasure it is no longer, but to be shared with those who will appreciate it.