Posted by: Sally Ingraham | July 5, 2011

A Day in the Life of Trees, Sand, and Rock: Ferry Beach, Crescent Beach, and Two Lights State Parks

My sister Kelia proved to be a stellar companion last week when my State Parks project (among other things, including one of her amazing piano recitals) brought me to Southern Maine. We spent a day exploring three different parks and road tripping around a section of coastline that by now (a week later and after the 4th of July, the true start of summer in this “Vacationland” state) will be an absolute cluster-frack until September. Driving down the mile long section of Rt. 9 that passes through the oddly dated (and creepy in some lights) beach town of Old Orchard can take hours most days in August, but last Thursday we breezed through on our way between Ferry Beach State Park and Crescent Beach State Park.

While beaches are appealing to me on any sunny day, Ferry Beach State Park drew my interest more for it’s Tupelo swamp. I can’t remember if the Tupelo (black gum) tree is simply rare for this state and latitude, or if it is rare entirely. Either way, I wanted to see it and my sister was game for anything. We ended up racing through the swamp trails with eager mosquitoes hot on our heels, but we still enjoyed the boardwalks and fun trees. The beach itself was also lovely – classic white sands and a great view up and down the beach-lined coastline and out to sea.

The day started out sunny, but by the time we reached Crescent Beach State Park it was dramatically overcast. We had a snack on another pretty white sand beach, watching kids dart with screams in and out of the ridiculously chilly ocean. My sister suggested that we go exploring beyond the curve of the crescent, and we were soon exclaiming over the fascinating looking rock we discovered around the point. The ribbons of color in the rock held our attention until we noticed a surprising quantity of red sand, and then found morning glorys scattered throughout of the thickets of beach roses. At the far end of the park lands we found a raft of Eiders preparing to push off into the ocean, and on the way back a flash of orange tangled in the seaweed turned out to be not another crab shell, but a butterfly taking a break from the buffeting sea breeze.

Even though the rock at Crescent Beach State Park was pretty cool, the coastline at Two Lights State Park was the highlight of the trip. We were flabbergasted by the rock there. It had been folded and pressed and ribboned and sliced – the geological forces could be felt in the thick afternoon air. We scampered about peering into tide pools, kept an eye out for a glimpse of either of the lighthouses that inspired the park’s name, explored the concrete remains of the WWII defense installation, and paused frequently to geek out over the wondrous rock. Amazing and beautiful stuff.

I am going to have to get a guidebook to the rocks of Maine one of these days, since especially after this trip I am finding that a point of interest from park to park is the wildly diverse rock. The rock down in Southern Maine (and what kind of rock is it?) is totally different from the pink and white granite that the Acadia and Downeast region is famous for, and I know that if you travel further Downeast the rock looks totally different again in Machias or Cutler or Quaddy Head. And that’s just the coastline. Don’t even get me started on the mountains.

So that’s three more parks checked off for my project. I am newly wowed by my home state. For all that I sporadically have a desire to move elsewhere, I truly feel like I could be kept busy exploring just this one corner for the world for quite awhile longer. And I fully intend to do so!

Where have you been exploring recently?


  1. Wonderful post Sarah! (But what looks a lot like Morning Glory is actually Bindweed I think). Great pics!

    • Ah, if only my flora and fauna guide to Maine wasn’t still packed up, I could double check your verdict. Not that I don’t believe you. 🙂

  2. David’s uncle is a geologist & he’s super-fun to explore the wilds with—he can read the rocks like a novel. I’ve never really been interested in plant or rock or even animal identification until very recently, but with all the hiking we’ve been doing I might look into plant identification apps; it seems fun to be able to put names to “faces” as it were.

    And I know how you feel about your home state. I get my fair share of wanderlust but I really do love the place I live.

    • Apps!! Of course. For all that I like having my iPhone I constantly forget to utilize it. And I nearly always forget to bring along a backpack full of identification books on my walks and hikes – it would be so amazing to have it all filed away in the brain. There must be an app for that! 🙂

  3. […] other day when I posted about my recent Maine State Park adventures, my Dad commented that my identification of Morning Glory was possibly […]

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