Oh, Maine. You can't get there from here—or wait, no, you definitely can. (It's only a five hour drive from the city!) And for those who have experienced the pleasure of the great Pine Tree State (and those that understand the way life should be), you might agree that there's a certain sense of zen-like ahhhhhh after crossing the state line at the Piscataqua Bridge and beholding that giant lobster plastered across the roadside water tower.
A naturalist's playground, Maine offers a million and one ways to get out of town and reconnect with the great outdoors—everything from craggy mountains and rocky coasts to glacial lakes and dense evergreen forests. (Not to mention a million and one places to eat sweet, sweet crustaceans with abandon.) We should know, because we asked the experts who know about the way life should be—the hometown reps at Poland Spring. And there's more good news! Once you've crossed the bridge, you've got a near-infinite coastline of sea-salted beauty to behold as you venture onward.
Nestled in small pockets along Maine's southern coast is one of the state's quieter and lesser-known escapes for those not looking to go whole hog into the great northern wild. Founded in 1966 and eponymously named after the great environmentalist, Rachel Carson, the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge protects 1,167 acres of estuaries and salt marsh habitats for migratory birds, spanning from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth.
Piping Plover (istockphoto)
It's a true paradise for many feathered friends, home to a near-exponential array of birds like sharp-tailed sparrows, common loons, red-tailed hawks, and the state-endangered piping plover, a downy fluff of a beach-nesting shorebird. It's estimated that 50 to 75% of the piping plover population (say that three times fast) nest within or very near the preserve, making the bird's longevity a top priority for the refuge's conservationists.
For us mere mortals who must to walk this Earth on two legs, there's plenty to do and see while visiting the tranquil stretch of protected land along Maine's shoreline. Take a stroll down one of the preserve's many trails and peep some serious wildlife in the vast shrubland. For lovers of the open water, embark on a sightseeing adventure by canoe and kayak. The park offers three dedicated launch sites—but please, no motorized boats! Prior to your cruise along the Little River in Biddeford or the Spurwink River in Scarborough, may we also recommend you come to terms with your likely not-so-waterproof camera phone—and besides, with wilderness like this, spotty cell service is probably a good excuse to finally tune out.
Hunting, fishing, and shellfishing are also common activities for you hunter-gatherer types, but note that state regulations and specific permit laws apply.
Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge (istockphoto)
Expanding their preservation and conservation efforts beyond the land itself, the refuge also provides educational curricula to area teachers hoping to make wee environmentalists of our nation's youngest. With on- and off-site teaching tools, the refuge hosts programs such as Adopt-A-Salmon and virtual tours, with the goal of developing and fostering environmental citizenry, so that all may enjoy Maine's natural beauties for generations to come.
Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water is proud to hail from the great state of Maine, and the brand celebrates all those committed to the preservation of the local land and the sustainable use of local natural resources. Sourced from carefully selected Maine springs, Poland Spring delivers the fresh taste that those in the Northeast have come to love and cherish. So while you're out there getting in touch with your inner naturalist, make sure you do right by your body and keep hydrated like a local.
To learn more about their commitment to sustainably sourced water and their Maine heritage, visit the Poland Spring website today.
This post is a sponsored collaboration between Poland Spring and Gothamist staff.