Winslow Memorial Park Loop

Beach at Winslow Park, Freeport, ME

Winslow Memorial Park and Campground, owned by the town of Freeport, Maine, is a 100-campsite campground, beach, and park on a narrow peninsula between the Harraseeket River and Casco Bay. During 2022, Winslow Park will be open for camping from May 26th through October 1st. A map of the property, including trails, can be found here. According to the Town’s website, the 90-acre park was a 1953 gift from Adelaide Winslow Harb in memory of her mother, Delia B. Powers Winslow with the understanding that the land and its buildings, “… shall be used as a public park and for public recreational purposes…” A day-use fee is charged during the summer months (Freeport Residents: $2.00 per person; Non-Residents: $3.00 per person). Day use hours are from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset for use of all facilities, including trails.

Reflection bench, Winslow Park, Freeport, ME

The trails at Winslow Park are named in a simple fashion, and we made a loop of the Scenic Trail and Self-Guided Nature Trail, using Winslow Park Way to connect these short loops, for a 2.5 mile hike lasting about an hour. The footing was a bit mucky on the late April day we visited, but it was a small price to pay to avoid crowds and fees and see the stunning coastal views. We started with the Scenic Trail, accessed from the parking lot to the immediate left of the entrance gate. A wide, flat trail encircles the small wooded peninsula jutting out into the Harraseeket River. We continued on Winslow Park Way, then veered left past a picnic area towards a sign marked “Trails” to rejoin the Scenic Trail, which then became the Self-Guided Nature Trail.

View of Harraseeket River and Staples Cove from Winslow Park, Freeport, ME

From May to October, this trail would be noisier and more crowded, as it passes multiple campsites. In the calm before Maine’s summer storm of tourists, we enjoyed the quiet views of the Harraseeket River, including a pair of diving ospreys. The trail viewpoints are punctuated by benches from which hikers can sit and watch the water. The trail leads to a scenic overlook at Stockbridge Point, directly past a cottage available for rental. Next to the cottage is a fishing pier that extends into Casco Bay.

Bowman Island from Winslow Park, Freeport, ME

Using Winslow Park Road to head back and avoid private property, we turned left at the “Trails” sign by the camping area to walk alongside the ocean, where sparrows, cardinals, goldfinches, and pine warblers flew overhead, and into nests in trees and boxes. We walked out on the stones of Mitchell Pier, and across the bay, we could clearly see Moshier and Little Moshier and Cousins Islands. Back towards the entrance of the campground, groups picnicked together while their children played in the large playground in the center. A large sandy beach with a boat ramp lay unused, waiting for summer. This beautiful oceanfront park is a great family destination, with tidepools and a playground to explore, and picnic tables with stunning views.

Winslow Memorial Park, Freeport, ME

Florida Lake Loop

Tree swallows feeding by nesting boxes, Florida Lake, Freeport, Maine

Florida Lake Loop is part of a 167-acre property owned by the Town of Freeport since 2002, with trail maps available from the Freeport Conservation Trust. This 2.9 mile loop, using the orange Lake Loop and blue-blazed North Loop trails, skirts the edge of shallow Florida Lake, passing through wetlands and forest. The trails are accessible from a well-marked turnoff (blue sign for Florida Lake parking) off Route 125/Wardtown Road in north Freeport, leading to a small (six cars or so) parking lot. A map kiosk is located a short walk down the gravel trail towards Florida Lake (this map is faded, so the orange trail appears as yellow). This lake gets its name from the resemblance of its meandering finger-like shape to the familiar southern U.S. state.

Small pond off spur trail, Lake Loop Trail, Florida Lake, Freeport, ME

On the Easter Sunday we visited, mud season was very much in effect, necessitating waterproof boots and a certain agility in negotiating logs over standing water. The turtles sunning themselves on the small outlet of the lake gazed at us with exasperation, then slowly slide into the cold water, no doubt gurgling mild turtle swears as they dove. Nesting boxes line the lake itself, and tree swallows wheeled past our heads in blurs of blue-green and white, feeding and diving inside the small shelters.

Orange-blazed Lake Loop Trail, Florida Lake, Freeport, ME

Heading counter-clockwise around the orange trail, a small spur led to a secluded pond, and we doubled back through the muck to continue around Florida Lake. Princess pine lined the trail, and soon we encountered exotic bright green and reddish Northern Pitcher Plants in the wetlands to each side of the log bridges leading around the south side of the loop.

Pitcher plant, Lake Loop Trail, Florida Lake, Freeport, ME

The trails to the east and north sides of the lake weave in and out with snowmobile trails, and were peppered with the sweet song of brown creepers. Canada geese and mergansers patrolled the lake’s center, and a bald eagle and loud, rowdy crows patrolled the tall trees ringing the shore. We also saw fresh beaver-chewed saplings, and what looked like a lodge on an island nearby.

Florida Lake, Freeport, ME

The blue trail led off to the right, making a longer curve towards Collins Brook. At one point, we reached a “Wrong Way” sign, despite no indicator beforehand of a turn to the blue trail. On trails, as in life, it always makes more sense to mark the correct path well than to put up warnings of wrong turns. The wrong way, however, led shortly to the right one, and followed the banks of the brook back to Florida Lake and the parking area. The short, circular hike took us a little over an hour to complete, and would be relatively easy for small children, with a wealth of birds to listen to and observe.

Florida Lake, Freeport, ME