(Last Updated On: September 25, 2022)

Boat on the water at Popham Beach State Park

Popham Beach State Park is one of those destinations that beckons people to the Maine coast. The 605-acre park in Phippsburg is just under a ½-hour from Bath and just over one hour from Augusta. It is where the mighty Kennebec River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

This is notable as the ships departing from Bath Iron Works head out to sea at this point.

This place is one to visit any time of year, especially on a bright, sunny day. Some days the fog rolls in or out, so bring your sweatshirt. You’ll want to arrive early as the parking lot fills quickly here at Maine’s most visited day-trip park. Once the lot’s full, beach goers park roadside and walk in.

It’s well worth it as there are unique features and a beautiful beach from which to view lighthouses and scramble over rocky Fox Island at low tide.

Activities at Popham Beach State Park

This Maine state park is made for a full day’s visit or a couple of hours of taking in seascapes. The park’s beach is part of a three-mile stretch with room to walk and wade, even during high tide.

There are picnic tables, grills, bathhouses, and showers for rinsing away the beach’s fairly fine sand. You can fish, hike, and watch birds and wildlife. Visitors here enjoy being in and on the water.

Be sure to pack your frisbees, footballs, kites, and other outdoor toys as there’s plenty of room to play your favorite beach games.

The park is rated as having good ADA access. The parking, restrooms, and picnic tables are fully accessible, and the beach is accessible with assistance. There is a beach wheelchair available on a first-come basis.

Boating at Popham Beach State Park

There are a lot of water activities to do here. People surf and SUP, putting their boards in right from the beach. Word has it that your sea kayak can be launched up the beach by Fort Popham, a 1-½ mile drive.

You might want to look into going out with Abkenoc Guiding to learn about this coastal setting and water conditions.

If you’re in the area for a while, you can head out on a lobster tour that leaves from Fort Popham. That’ll give you another perspective of the park, while adding to your wildlife adventures!

Swimming at Popham Beach State Park

Shifting tides and storms alter the beach contours, often creating large pools or streams. These warm in the sun at times becoming deep enough for swimming or simply drifting along.

You can do serious swimming under the watchful eyes of lifeguards during the summer. Even then, there are points of caution. The area is known for undertow and riptides.

You can venture to Fox Island via the sandbar during low tide. When the tide turns, it comes in quickly so keep an eye out for when it’s time to return. Another point while on the island is to watch for tripping and slipping hazards. Then when you’re back to the beach, it’s time to sunbathe and rest up for a hike.

Hiking at Popham Beach State Park

One way to begin or end your day at the park is with a hike.

  • You can use the Popham Beach State Park trail that’s an easy 1.2-mile one-way hike to Fort Baldwin. The surfaces are sand and dirt or forest floor. Pets are not allowed.
  • Nearby is the Spirit Pond and McDonald Sanctuary Preserve that’s an easy 3.5-mile, pet-friendly option. There are two different parking spots within two miles of the park.
  • Another place to hike with your furry pal is Sprague Pond Trail that’s about eight miles away.

    It’s moderate, over 5 miles long, has a waterfall, and is open for snowshoeing.

  • Another hike to consider is the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area. It is 600 protected acres with year round access. Pets are not permitted.

Biking at Popham Beach State Park

The local Phippsburg roads are good for biking during the less busy times of the year. Better yet, these three options are about ½-hour north of the park. You can even do some birding and watching for wildlife at each of these spots.

  • Whiskeag Trail is a multi-purpose trail open to biking adventures in Bath. This is a pet-friendly destination.
  • Lily Pond Community Forest is another spot to bike in Bath that also welcomes your leashed pet. It’s a technical trail system with an overall intermediate rating. Fat biking is available in the winter as the trail is groomed.
  • Neptune Woods is in the Brunswick-Topsham area. It’s another multi-purpose, pet-friendly spot. Mountain biking is rated as mostly easy, making it nice for kids.

Fishing at Popham Beach State Park

This is a place for surf-casting. One of the benefits is the length of shore, allowing you to search out optimal spots for casting and luring the usual stripers. You may get lucky and catch a bluefish.

Your best time to fish here is on the early side of morning and later in the day. The fish are active and beachgoers are less so.

The Saltwater Regulations and Tips page directs you to licensing and marine resources information. The Angler’s Guide has links to tide tables, and if you want, to check on fishing charters.

Birding at Popham Beach State Park

This varied terrain setting provides year-round bird watching opportunities. It’s suggested to do so at low tide. You can then venture to the island, keeping an eye out for diving ducks. During the winter months out there is when you’re most likely to see common loon, red-breasted mergansers, grebes, and buffleheads. Look toward the marshy area for rough-legged hawks in fall and winter.

The park is a migratory stop for various gulls and shorebirds. During breeding season, keep a watch for piping plovers and least terns, typically located in the dune and more sandy beach areas. Other birds you’ll see are black ducks, gulls, and osprey.

Keep an eye on those food-stealing gulls! The salt marsh area by the park is frequented by a few types of heron and egrets. The more wooded and shrub sections provide habit for warblers and sparrows.

Nature & Wildlife at Popham Beach State Park

While watching birds in and around the beach, it can be easy to miss other wildlife. The areas in and near the beach are home to deer, beaver, otter, fox, and seals. Any of these are more likely seen early and late in the day before the crowds arrive.

You’ll can also enjoy wildlife and views from Seawall Beach.

Head to The Basin Preserve, a large tract of land maintained by The Nature Conservancy and only 10 miles away. It’s referred to as a “recreational and scenic treasure.”

Pets at Popham Beach State Park

Pets love this beach, although they can only accompany you here from October 1 through March 31, provided they are leashed. You and your friends are welcome to ride your horses here during those same dates and as long as you have completed the Horse Beach Permit.

Leashed pets are welcome year round at Popham Beach at the north end of this sandy stretch by Fort Popham. Parking is limited so plan ahead.

Camping at Popham Beach State Park

Much as it would be wonderful to camp on the beach, that’s not an option. Fortunately there are some welcoming campgrounds right around the corner!

  • Hermit Island Campground is 15 minutes west, overlooking Casco Bay. This spot features rustic sites for tents and popup trailers. You can swim some more here and then take the chill off by your campfire.
  • Meadowbrook Camping Area has 80 RV and/or tent sites plus some cabin rentals. There’s a pool, nature trails, a general store, and fun amenities. You can order up a lobster dinner to enjoy after a brisk round of paintball. There are hookup sites and pets are welcome except in the rental cabins.

Park Location

Popham Beach State Park
711 Popham Rd,
Phippsburg, ME 04562
Phone: 207.389.1335

Website

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showing some aerial footage of Popham Beach: