On Monday we visited the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. We went to one of the visitor use areas named Carson Trail, which is a small portions of the 5300 acre refuge. The Carson Trail is a one-mile walk along an upland edge which offers amazing views of one of southern Maine’s most valuable ecosystems. The trail walk is flat and wide and meanders through forest. Along the way there are 11 numbered viewing platforms that overlook the estuaries. We were treated to a stunning day with glorious warm colours of Autumn.
Taken from the official website : The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established to preserve ten important estuaries that are key points along migration routes of waterfowl and other migratory birds. During harsh winters, the refuge’s marshes provide vital food and cover for waterfowl and other migrating birds at a time when inland waters are frozen. The refuge also supports piping plover, least terns, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and other state and federally protected species. Nesting success of plover and terns has benefited through the increased habitat protection. In addition to anadromous fish, many commercially and recreational important fin and shellfish rely on these coastal wetlands as critical nursery areas.
The girls very much enjoyed running to the ‘next number’ lookout. We stopped at viewing platform 3 to have a cup of tea and Elle had a fit and cried because she wanted to have tea at number 4. We are not quiet hikers at the best of times and this episode was particularily lengthy and noisy. We felt for the other visitors (both animal and people) and so we negotiated that Elle could walk between 3 and 4 drinking her tea – problem solved! Needless to say we did not see very much wildlife on on the trail, we did spot what we think were a pair of ibis at great distance. We stopped at numer 7 and spoke to a photographer who was sitting very still and quiet and he had seen lots of interesting things. In particualr he was studying the patterns the grasses formed. We found mushrooms, fungi growth, moss and acorn tops along the way, some just like we have seen in the woods at home, others that were new to us.
The Carson trail is a great walk, manageable with small children and various walking abilities. It is shaded almost the entire way, except for a few of the viewing platforms and some portions of over the estuary boardwalk. My favorite spot was were the estuary meets the shore and there is a view of the ocean. This is definitely one of the treasures of southern Maine