A few local strolls will allow visitors to stretch their legs and get the cobwebs out of their heads.
York Harbor and York Village are connected by a quiet pathway that follows a river and passes through gently rustling woodlands. Fisherman’s Walk departs from below Edward’s Harborside Inn, near the Stage Neck Inn. (There’s limited parking at tiny York Harbor Beach.) Follow the pathway along the river, past lobster shacks and along lawns leading up to grand shingled homes. Cross Route 103 and walk over the Wiggly Bridge (said to be, not implausibly, the smallest suspension bridge in the world), then head into the woods. You’ll soon connect with a dirt lane; follow this and you’ll emerge at Lindsay Road near Hancock Wharf (see above). The entire walk is about a mile long and, depending on your pace, will take a half-hour to 45 minutes.
Also departing from near York Harbor Beach is the Cliff Walk, a scenic little trail that follows rugged terrain along rocky bluffs and offers sweeping views of the open ocean as well as glimpses of life in some of the town’s grandest cottages. The far end of this trail has been destroyed by ocean waves and has not been rebuilt; you’ll have to retrace your steps back to the beach. The pathway is the perpetual subject of local disputes between the town and landowners seeking to limit access. The most recent developments limits traffic on the trail to the hours between sunrise and sunset, May 15 to October 15. Check signs for any new restrictions on trespassing before you set off.
Five miles northeast of town on appropriately named Mountain Road, some 5 miles of mostly wooded trails crisscross the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Region. It’s a miniature wilderness bastion just minutes away from the din of Route 1, with 692-foot-tall Mount Agamenticus at its heart. The summit affords knockout views of the ocean on the one hand and New Hampshire’s soaring Mount Washington on the other. Watch for migrating raptors, white-tailed deer, and even the occasional moose.
Finally, there’s the small peninsula ending at an island capped by the scenic Nubble Light lighthouse. This lighthouse, probably one of the most photographed in the world, is undeniably attractive—and absolutely free to view from the safety of a parking lot set across the swift little inlet that separates it from the mainland. There’s little walking to be done, but this is a terrific spot for a picnic; walk a minute downhill and right on Nubble Road to Dunne’s Ice Cream for some of Maine’s best homemade ice cream for dessert. (The lighthouse is lit up for the holiday season around Thanksgiving each year. If you happen to be here in late November inquire about the shuttle from Short Sands Beach out to the vantage point.)
On the Water
For a duck’s-eye view of the local terrain, visit Excursions Coastal Maine Outfitting Co. in Cape Neddick (www.excursionsinmaine.com, tel. 207/363-0181). This outfitter offers half- day, daily, and weekly sea-kayak rentals and tours—it costs $60 per adult for a guided half-day excursion, $50 for a child, for example—along the lovely local coastline. For more dramatic paddling, ask about sunrise, sunset, full-moon, and overnight kayaking trips. The shop is located on Route 1, between Ogunquit and York; go north 5 or 6 miles from York’s information hut near the turnpike exit.
Beaches in the Yorks
York Beach actually consists of two beaches, Long Sands Beach and Short Sands Beach, separated by a rocky headland. Long Sands has views of Nubble Light and boats far out to sea; Short Sands, as the name suggests, is more compact and surrounded by quaintly appealing arcades, hotels, and grand summer homes.
Both beaches have plenty of room for sunning and Frisbees when the tide is out. When the tide is in, though, both become narrow and cramped. Short Sands fronts the honky-tonk town of York Beach, with its candlepin bowling, taffy-pulling machine, and video arcades. It’s a better pick for families traveling with kids who have short attention spans. Long Sands runs along Route 1A, directly across from a line of motels, summer homes, and convenience stores. Parking at both beaches is metered in summer; pay heed, as enforcement is strict and you must feed the meters with quarters until 9pm, all 7 days of the week. (At the end of summer, though, they decapitate the meters—literally—and parking is subsequently free and plentiful until the next Memorial Day.)
Public restrooms are available at both beaches; other services, including snacks, are provided by local restaurants and vendors.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.