Cliff Walk at Prouts Neck (Scarborough, Maine)

Cliff Walk at Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine
Cliff Walk at Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine

(Update: As of December 2022, the Cliff Walk had re-opened, following a September 2022 notice on the Prouts Neck Improvement Association site that the Cliff Walk was closed, presumably due to the recent death along the trail. As directed below, please respect private property, obey any posted signage, and turn around if the gates are closed.)

If you like dramatic cliffs, ocean views, rocky beaches and stunning homes, this may be your walk! The residents at Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine harbor a secret gem in their gated community – but fret not – while the entrances are hidden and parking is complicated, it is still possible (and legal) to walk variations of the same 1-mile route that Winslow Homer did, even if you are not an “insider.”

This is definitely categorized as a Sunday stroll-type of walk, a walk with a good friend that you haven’t seen in a while or a lone walk with a camera or sketch book. The uneven terrain and sometimes narrow path demand a leisurely pace. The smell of rugosa roses, the salty ocean breeze and the lobster boats are center stage and require frequent pauses. The views are unbeatable. The only problem is logistics. Below we will describe how to safely and lawfully enjoy a hike in summer, or even winter, from the Black Point Inn (45 minutes to an hour) or a longer “lollipop” loop from Ferry Beach (3.7 miles, about an hour and a half).

Western Cove from Black Point Road, Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine

Based on previous reviews online, I noticed that there are a lot of complaints about accessibility. This is real. At the end of Black Point Road, where it becomes Winslow Homer Road, you will be stopped by a gate and a keypad, signaling a private road (And in the summer, likely a member of the Scarborough Police Department just idling in his or her car). Winslow Homer’s old studio (owned by Portland Museum of Art and open to the public with a ticket purchased in advance) is in this development, as well as a myriad of super wealthy people who don’t want the riff-raff.

Just before that gate on your right, you will see a driveway and about twenty feet down the driveway on your left is some variation of a lovably crooked sign that says “Cliff Walk” with an overgrown-looking trail (newer signs have now been posted as of February 2020). While this is one entrance, this does you almost no good because you can’t park here. In fact, there is no parking at all around here. This is some of the most prestigious real estate in Maine – they certainly don’t want more cars. I had a cop follow me nearly the entire way down the road until I got to the gate. 

There are two primary parking options. First, have lunch at the Black Point Inn, which is on Black Point Road. They will let you park in their lot if you are a guest of the hotel. Once you are done with lunch, ask them where the entrance to the Cliff Walk is (you have to walk towards the back of the Black Point Inn property), change into some walking shoes and get going. The Black Point Inn restaurant closes after the summer, so keep that in mind.

Ferry Beach, Scarborough, Maine

Option two is to park at Scarborough’s gorgeous Ferry Beach ($15/day in summer season with bathrooms and showers, free in winter). Young children can splash in shallow water and collect hermit crabs, beachwalkers can walk, beach loungers can lounge. First step is to check the tide chart, and go at low tide. Park at Ferry Beach and then figure out who is going to walk and who is going to hang out at the beach (tough choices).

If you are a walker, make your way to the Cliff Walk. Proceed from the parking lot to the beach, hang a left on the beach. Follow the beach all the way to the end (beach curves to the left drastically). When you have reached the end of the beach, look left on the grassy hill and there are steps that will take you up to Black Point Road. At this point, let’s say you have a fellow adult walker who is already complaining and you are thinking about how this is going to take way too long and be unpleasant with said person. Straight ahead of you at this point is the Black Point Inn. Suggest that they have a seat on the porch of the Black Point Inn and order a cocktail and you will pick them up later. Wave goodbye.

Winter view of Ferry Beach from Black Point Road, Prouts Neck, Scarborough

Once you have resolved these pressing issues of access, parking and companionship, press on to marvel at the splendor that is the Maine coast. Take a right on Black Point Road, paying attention as you walk on the road, which has a narrow shoulder. Follow it until you get to the Winslow Homer House/No Trespassing sign. Just before this barricaded road, you will see a path on the right, as depicted and described above. Go fifty feet down this path and you will see the overgrown Cliff Walk entrance on your left.

Begin your walk. The trail is not marked by signs along the way but there is only one trail and you will know soon enough if you have strayed from it – you will either be on someone’s back porch or in the ocean (If you do end up in someone’s back yard by accident, get back on the trail. It must be really annoying having tourists wander on your property and on a gorgeous Saturday, you do see this, unfortunately). Please stop asking locals for directions. They are simply not thrilled to have you walking in their manicured backyards. This is understandable. When it doubt, err on the side of walking away from the houses.

Cliff Walk, Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine

There are several printed rules on the signs at either end of the Cliff Walk (open dawn to dusk year-round, except in stormy weather), and they are as follows:

  • When the Cliff Walk gates are closed, please do not attempt to access the Cliff Walk here or elsewhere.
  • Use of the Cliff Walk is at your own risk.
  • Rough terrain, loose rocks, erosion and dangerous conditions may be present and may cause injury.
  • Please leave no trace; be respectful of private property.
  • Thank you for adhering to these rules so others may continue to enjoy this walk.

There are opportunities to walk out along the jutting cliffs and take in the crashing Atlantic waves and there are a couple of small, rocky beaches where you can sit and admire the squawking sea birds and perhaps even see a seal while listening to the hypnotic sounds of water receding over stones.


This may not be the best walk for a small child who likes to run, as this is a cliff walk with no barriers. This is also not appropriate for your relative who walks with a cane, as there are exposed roots and  rocks on the path.  But if you can make it on the trail, you are in for a mile of coastal Maine beauty.

In June, you will see Rugosa roses, honeysuckle, and beautiful magenta beach peas.  The difference between this route and the one I wrote about before is that after about an hour or so of walking, instead of going to the Black Point Inn, you will see a lovely beach with a private club and blue umbrellas and this is Scarborough Beach.

Wintry Scarborough Beach, viewed from the Cliff Walk, Prouts Neck, Scarborough, Maine

Here, you continue to the left to return to the Black Point Inn or Ferry Beach via Seal Rock Drive. In short: Left on Ferry Beach to a right on Black Point Road to a right before private road to a quick left to entrance of Cliff Walk. Walk for an hour. A gorgeous circle. For ideas on what to do before and after your walk, check out this great 48 Hours in Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, and South Portland feature from the Maine Magazine.

Regarding the access rights for the Cliff Walk, the Town of Scarborough provided this helpful explanation via e-mail in April 2020:

In late August of 2019 the Prouts Neck Association (PNA) contacted the Town and advised that it was installing gates at either end of the Cliff Walk so the path could be closed after dark and during inclement weather.  The Town has no ownership interest in this property, but the public has use rights that have been established for decades.  The gates were erected shortly thereafter without incident.  More recently, on March 24, 2020 the Town was again notified by the PNA of its intentions to lock the gates due to the COVID-19 pandemic due to the fact the narrowness of the path rendered safe physical distancing impossible.  The Town communicated with the PNA acknowledging their intention, noting that this action is consistent with other actions the Town has taken at outdoor recreation areas, but requested that the path be reopened as soon as it was safe to do so.

23 thoughts on “Cliff Walk at Prouts Neck (Scarborough, Maine)

  1. isabelschumacher September 14, 2019 / 8:58 pm

    Definitely a nice hike (also did the beach one). Did it some days ago and can assure you that the newly installed gates at the entries are only locked during the night.


  2. LifeLivedCuriously February 22, 2020 / 7:44 am

    Great directions! I drove out there a couple times and was wondering where the heck to go, as I’ve read about this walk in several magazines. Can’t wait to try it out now!


    • Undercover Hiker February 22, 2020 / 8:00 am

      It’s designed that way, I think (to restrict access). But it’s a truly special place, and open to anyone who abides by the rules. Glad this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patti March 22, 2020 / 1:11 pm

    We tried to go out there this Fall, but I felt uncomfortable like I was trespassing. My boyfriend wanted to stay. I’d rather walk somewhere like Scarborough beach where there are no hassles. I love that beach walk.


  4. Pam Newell March 22, 2020 / 1:32 pm

    I went recently and it’s pretty but beware ~ I Parked at Ferry Beach, but all the lanes are private, and monitored, so you need to walk quite a ways on the road to get to the entrance to the trail, which is not easy to find.


    • Undercover Hiker March 22, 2020 / 4:41 pm

      It’s not easy. Ferry Beach parking is public (for a fee during the season), and Black Point Road is accessible by foot traffic up to the entrance to the Cliff Walk, which is marked with signs showing the rules of the trails. If you hit the gate, you have gone too far.


  5. Dee March 22, 2020 / 2:30 pm

    Please make it clear that this is absolutely trespassing onto private property meant only for Prouts Neck Country Club members. People need to realize they are entering at their own risk. Also, of note, most of the members are known to be older and cranky but very much an at risk group during this quarantine. Know the above before you make choices to go and expose/risk wealthy people’s wrath.


    • Undercover Hiker March 22, 2020 / 4:35 pm

      Thank you for the feedback. We understand that “social distancing” has (ironically) resulted in a crush of people at some areas of natural beauty. The last thing we want is to encourage incursions into private property. We edited the post to remove the longer route crossing the private beach, and have contacted the town of Scarborough to get clarification on the remaining route.


    • Kelly March 26, 2020 / 9:19 pm

      I was told the path itself is public. A home owner posted a make shift closed sign there today. The houses are way more than 6 feet from the path. The owners are up from New York and Boston …hmmmm


    • tara May 13, 2020 / 2:49 pm

      it is a right of way, it is not private


      • Undercover Hiker May 13, 2020 / 8:59 pm

        Thank you, Tara. We received clarification from the Town of Scarborough on that issue, and the results are in the last paragraph.


  6. Kelly MacKay May 11, 2020 / 2:13 pm

    When the borders once again open I shall visit Maine. Cheers


  7. Page June 26, 2021 / 3:55 pm
    Newest info
    I went today and had to double back bc there was a woman stationed at pump house saying roads near the inn are private, it was high tide and water rough so I didn’t want to scramble down steep rocks to beach.


  8. J. Matlock, Director of Fantasies September 17, 2021 / 2:05 pm

    Great post. Adding to my to-do list. We saw Prout’s Neck for the first time when we visited Scarborough and ate lunch at the Black Point Inn in October 2016. We were looking for possible home to retire to in a few years.


  9. Sarah December 4, 2021 / 9:17 am

    So, in the wintertime when the Inn is closed, can one park in their lot to access the cliff walk? :/


    • Undercover Hiker December 4, 2021 / 12:37 pm

      I would doubt it – parking rules in the area are fairly draconian. But Ferry Beach lot doesn’t collect fees after Labor Day.


  10. Trevor February 8, 2022 / 5:56 pm

    There is a really useful new Cliff Walk website hikers should read–


  11. Diane Robinson April 11, 2022 / 9:32 am

    I won’t be able to make the scheduled walk today as I just had a filing and my face is numb.

    Will look forward to it in the future.


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