Maine Hiking Adventures: Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach

Why it’s good to get out there.

A shell on Seawall Beach

Our first outdoor blog post! I’m honestly so excited about this new section of Savor + Harvest. We sincerely felt like something was missing from this blog. If we’re talking about cooking and gardening here, then we absolutely have to talk about our outdoor adventures also. They’re as much a part of us and the mission of Savor + Harvest as our food and plants are because they allow us to truly experience the planet that we are so passionate about protecting. So let’s get to some Maine hiking!

And, especially during these times of numerous stresses from seemingly every direction, taking a few moments to go outside and absorb the natural world around you is some of the best therapy out there.

Ryan walking on Seawall Beach

Morse Mountain: a fabulous Maine hiking adventure near Portland, Brunswick, and Bath

Therefore, I’d like to tell you about a really fantastic, classic Maine hike we did recently: Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach. This four mile, out-and-back trail has everything from amazing panoramic views from the top of Morse Mountain, to beautiful walks along a secluded and pristine beach. It’s also very close to Portland, Maine. Plus, it provided us with some great photo ops!

A lobster trap on seawall beach

A few things to keep in mind…

For the past several months, we’d been hearing wonderful things about hiking the trail from Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach, so we decided to give it a try. After experiencing it, we can’t recommend it highly enough! However, here are some things to be aware of before you go:

  • This hike is about a 50 minute drive from the center of Portland, so it’s a very achievable place to visit if you’re in town for a limited amount of time. However, being close to Portland comes with its drawbacks in the form of LOTS OF PEOPLE. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Parking is very limited! I’m serious. It’s very limited, and there is no overflow parking. We actually attempted to do this hike mid-summer and couldn’t get parking. They do have a cul-de-sac area below the parking lot in which you can wait for parking to become available, but it’s a bit of a toss-up since most people tend to linger. Therefore, we’d recommend getting there very early during the tourist season. However, there is a bit more wiggle room outside of tourist season. We left our house (in the Portland area) around 7AM on a foggy, cloudy Sunday morning in late September, and arrived in the parking area at about 8:15AM. The parking lot was just over halfway full. There were also three or four cars that pulled in behind us just in the time that we were grabbing our backpacks from the trunk.
  • In the warmer months of the year, the mosquitos can be a menace, so bring your bug spray. Fortunately, the bugs are not on the beach, so you’ll be fine once you get there.
  • There are no pets allowed since some of the land you cross during the hike is private.
  • Moral of the story: it will take just a tiny bit of planning in order to ensure you get parking, but the effort is totally and completely worth it. This hike was spectacular, even in the fog. It is the classic Maine hiking adventure.

Starting the hike.

A beautiful Maine hiking trail.

The Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach Trail can be found just about a mile past Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg, ME (just outside of Bath). The land surrounding the trail is called the Bates – Morse Mountain Conservation Area, and it is managed by nearby Bates College. Because the conservation area encompasses so many different types of habitats, including salt marshes, coastal uplands, and a pristine beach, Bates uses it as a resource for its students and researchers. It provides them with invaluable information about at-risk and even endangered plant and animal species, as well as the effects of sea-level rise (due to climate change) on these coastal ecosystems, among other things.

Fortunately for us hikers, we also get to take advantage of this special place via the trail. But, because this is a conservation area and a fragile environment, that also means treading lightly and abiding by the “leave no trace” rule.

Lichens and moss.

What you’ll see right away

The trail is a nice, wide, semi-paved road, so this would also make a wonderful running trail in addition to it’s awesome hiking opportunities. Another thing you’ll notice is that there are actually some residences past the trailhead gate. They access their homes via the trail/road, so you actually might see a car or two as you walk, so keep this in mind, especially if you are hiking with kids. We saw only one car on our hike.

The first half mile of the trail is mostly forested, covered in lichens, moss, white pine, and fir. Because of the thick moss and layers of fallen pine needles, the woods are quiet and serene.

Getting closer to the ocean.

Once past the forest, the trail curves downhill and crosses a salt marsh. The Sprague River meanders gently through the marsh, providing fishing space for snowy egrets (which we saw in abundance).

Red salt marsh grasses with snowy egrets.

On the day we hiked here, it was foggy, foggy, foggy! But, in no way did it diminish the beauty of the salt marshes, especially as we watched the egrets fish and the mist roll across the grass.

Granite rock formations reflected in a river seen while hiking in Maine.
Fall colors while Maine hiking.

Hiking to the top.

Ok, so, hiking to the top sounds way more intense than this hike actually is. Though you do have to go uphill for a significant portion of this part of the hike, it’s not bad at all. You wind past impressive granite formations covered in moss and ferns before reaching a fork in the trail.

Granite formations on the Morse Mountain trail.

One branch of the trail continues down the opposite side of the mountain to the beach. The other branch leads up to the summit of Morse Mountain. Don’t be fooled here! This fork is somewhat confusing because there is actually a house on the summit. Some hikers may be tempted to avoid this part of the trail since it appears to be a driveway. However, go on! A sign will point you in the correct direction once you get up to the top.

The summit.

The summit is a granite bald typical of most mountains in this area. These sparse but beautiful environments provide wonderful views of the surrounding area when the weather is right. Unfortunately, I can’t give you this information based on my personal experience. As I said, the fog was extremely thick during most of our hike. Therefore, I’m relying on the accounts of family members who’ve had better weather luck during their explorations.

However, the summit still held so much beauty, even in the fog. We sat a bench surrounded by small fir trees and watched the fog blow in streams around us. No one else came up to the summit while we were there, so we took a few moments to just sit in silence, watch the trees, and listen to the breeze.

The summit of Morse Mountain while hiking in Maine.

Continuing on to Seawall Beach

It’s a quick hike back down from Morse Mountain to continue on to Seawall Beach. At this point the forest changes, and you will begin to see more deciduous trees creeping into the ecosystem. Though we took our hike early in the fall, the few trees that were changing color provided some wonderful, vibrant contrast.

Looking down the Maine hiking trail
A tree with fall colors spotted while hiking in Maine.

Seawall Beach

After winding your way back down the Mountain, you’ll come upon Seawall Beach. It is (by far!) one of the most undisturbed, pristine, and spectacular beaches I’ve seen. In this case, the fog added so much to our experience. Walking across the sand with the waves gently approaching from one side gave me the feeling of flying.

Hiking on Seawall Beach in Maine.
The surf.

We also got to hang out with tons of sandpipers and plovers who were enjoying pulling critters out of the sand to feast on! They didn’t seem to mind us too much as we quietly took photos of them and enjoyed the sound of the surf. I also learned some interesting sandpiper trivia! A large fraction of the birds were hopping around the beach on one foot. It perplexed us so much (as we are not bird experts!), that we eventually caved and Googled “one legged sandpiper.” Turns out, our avian friends do this to regulate their temperature, preventing themselves from losing heat from both of their legs.

A sandpiper on surf

In addition to the birds, we also found all kinds of other fun things on the beach.

Behind the beach.

Maybe it was the fog making us feel particularly isolated, but it was relaxing to be able to walk over a mile up and down the beach with no one else around. Visitors are allowed to traverse most of the beach. However, you must stay off the sand dunes as foot traffic can damage them. If you turn left after following the path from the trail down to the beach, you will walk alongside some small granite cliffs that lend some interesting texture to the stark landscape of the beach.

Granite formations on Seawall Beach plus a person hiking in Maine.

If you continue to walk past these granite formations, you will eventually reach the end of the beach, where the Morse River flows into the ocean. You’ll see the end of Popham Beach on the opposite side of the river. We then wandered to the back side of the beach to observe the much quieter, calmer landscape of beach transitioning to salt marsh and river.

Granite formations while Maine hiking.

The conclusion of our Maine hiking adventure.

There was so much to explore on the beach. We could have easily taken an entire day to explore.

Purple aster flowers spotted while Maine hiking.

We can’t recommend this hike enough for those of you who live in the Portland, Maine area. And, if you’re planning on visiting Maine, absolutely add this hike to your “must see list.” It was breathtakingly beautiful, easy to plan for, and the perfect distance for a substantial day hike with lots of things to see along the way. It is truly the best of Maine hiking.

Oh, also, if you’re up for some culinary exploration in this area, be sure to hit up Gurnet Trading Company in Brunswick for some top-of-the-line seafood. 10/10, would recommend! Or, if you’re in the mood to cook something cozy once you get home from your hiking trip, try our extra comforting Mushroom Lasagna with Tofu Ricotta.

Happy Maine hiking!

Hikers on a beach in Maine while Maine hiking.