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Platform on the Trail Vaughan Woods State Park

Platform on the Trail Vaughan Woods State Park. Photo: InAweofGod’sCreation, Wikimedia

This park is a unique combination of history, scenery, and the opportunity to take in special events while enjoying quiet woodland. This 165-acre park is in South Berwick along the Salmon Falls River that’s York County Maine’s western border with New Hampshire.

The park was gifted to Maine by Elizabeth Vaughan. She assured that future generations could benefit from time spent here, including the Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead programs and horseback riding.

Portland is a one-hour drive north and east of the park, and Boston is an hour and a half to the south, making the park someplace for a memorable day trip for many.

Nearby Parks

Activities at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

This Maine state park is designated as a place to hike, picnic, horseback ride, and watch for birds and wildlife. As you do any of these you’ll enjoy views along the river and the park’s historical sites.

The park is rated as having limited accessibility, although this rating applies only to the trails. Parking, picnic tables, the small group shelter, and restrooms meet ADA requirements.

Boating at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

There is no boating directly associated with the park. You may want to consider including a Salmon Falls River Canoe Trip. This is a trip back in time because of the river’s historical features. Paddling here includes some requiring caution as it’s a tidal river.

There’s a boat launch south of Vaughan Woods. This stretch of river provides rich birding opportunities and a chance to view the park from the water.

Swimming at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

As with boating, you won’t find designated swimming here. Fortunately, there are miles of beaches on the ocean within a half-hour, such as those at:

  • Ogunquit Beach that stretches on for three miles. There is a fee for using one of the three parking lots.
  • York’s Beaches that offer you different swimming opportunities, with lifeguards on duty from June through Labor Day, during the peak swimming hours. Read up on each to decide which best suits your interests and needs.

Hiking at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Here and there, you’ll read that this park is a “hidden gem.” That reputation has come about because of its old growth trees, streams, and trails that are available all year even though the gate is closed from Labor Day until the following Memorial Day. Your pet can join you as you explore the park.

These easy-to-moderate trails are used for hiking in spring and summer, as well as leading to the historic sites of Hamilton House and the Warren Home Site. You can snowshoe and cross country ski here during the winter, though there isn’t trail maintenance in the off-season. The park’s main trails are:

  • River Run Trail that’s just under a mile as it runs along next to the river. The trail leads to four scenic overlooks.
  • Bridle Path Trail, about a ¾-mile path that loops around through grand stands of conifers. This is one of the trails used for horseback riding.

You’ll find several other connecting trails in the park’s varied network. Those include Windy Way, Warren Walk, and Old Gate, plus others.

Another interesting hiking spot is Orris Falls Conservation Area that’s eight miles away. The 171-acre setting offers visitors views of unique geological and water features. The 1-1/2 miles of networked multi-use trails are considered moderate for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.

Biking at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Although there aren’t any biking trails here, you’re in luck! Mount Agamenticus is only 10 miles away and features easy to advanced multi-use trails in a 10,000 acre conservation region.

This site is pet-friendly for leashed dogs, and for riding horses. You can hike, snowshoe, and cross-country ski along with biking. These open, no-fee trails include these two major ones that intersect with others:

  • Turtle Loop is just over two miles long. It is moderate and offers scenery and views as you climb.
  • Bear Loop is over three miles, is moderate to advanced, and traverses through woods and over wooden bridges.

Horseback Riding at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Use of the Vaughan Woods trails for equestrians goes back many decades. You too can use the Bridle Path Trail and Bridle Path Loop for your riding pleasure.

Fishing at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Salmon Falls River is a place to catch striped bass, chain pickerel, and largemouth bass. There’s a boat launch five minutes south of the park in William A. Bray Memorial Park. Watch the tides to know best times to launch.

Word has it that folks fish from nearby Eliot Bridge that spans the river. Please adhere to Fishing & Boating in Maine laws.

Birding at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

With a river overlook, you’re likely to see water birds as well as those who are woods and field dwellers. That means year-round bald eagles and the more seasonal cormorants are out fishing. The breeding season is good for spotting scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, and rose-breasted grosbeaks on the land side.

Various woodpeckers and owls are most likely to be here year-round, along with wild turkeys and partridge.

Nature & Wildlife at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

The park’s area and river setting are inviting to large and small wildlife. That includes moose, deer, bear, fox, and smaller mammals. Most do not hibernate, the exception being bear.

On the river side of the park you may see river otters, along with sighting salmon and other fish. Even if you don’t see the wildlife, it’s noteworthy to spot evidence that they’ve been around.

Pets at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Pets are permitted here, with dogs being leashed. You’re invited to bring your horse to ride the trails designated for trail riding.

Camping at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Camping is not available here, although there are parks within a half-hour.

  • Beaver Dam Campground is 15 minutes away and offers you a wide range of camping options plus cabin rentals. Amenities include a beach, pool, courts, a ball field, playground, and gem mining.

    There’s a store and laundry at this campground that is pet-friendly aside from cabin rentals. Peak season rates range from $51 to $65 per night.

  • Sun Outdoors Wells Beach is an RV park a half-hour from Vaughan Woods. The pet-friendly setting is a mile from Wells Beach. Your family can enjoy the park’s pool, 18-hole mini-golf, playground, and dog park. There is a park laundry, store, and fitness center. Rates begin at $39 per night.

Park Location

Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park
28 Oldfields Road
South Berwick, Maine 03908
Phone: 207.384.5160




Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park: