Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center
Owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the 3,100 acre estuary known as Scarborough Marsh was the largest salt marsh in the state, comprising tidal marsh, salt creeks, freshwater marsh, and uplands. The marsh is particularly important for wildlife as a resting, breeding, and feeding ground.
The Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center is a great place to explore the state’s largest salt marsh by foot, canoe, or kayak. The center provides a variety of naturalist-guided and self-guided tours, as well as exhibits, a nature trail, canoe/kayak rentals, and a Maine Audubon Nature Store.
Thanks for a great season! We are now closed for canoe/kayak rentals. If you come to walk the nature trail, or to launch your own boats, please bring a mask and wear it, if it’s not possible to keep distanced from others. Other tips:
- When others are present, remain 6 feet apart.
- It is always a good idea to bring a full water bottle (there is no water on site), bug repellent, and sunscreen.
- There is no restroom. We suggest that you use facilities before you come. We have a Porta-Potty for emergencies, which is only cleaned once a week. Use at your own risk!
- Scarborough Marsh Trail Guide (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Nature Trail (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Nature Trail – French (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Scavenger Hunt Guide (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Scavenger Hunt Guide – French (pdf)
Directions & Contact
92 Pine Point Rd.
Scarborough, ME 04074
From U.S. Route One in Scarborough, turn east onto Pine Point Road (also marked as Route 9 West). The nature center is located .8 miles on the left.
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 am–5:30 pm. Please note: buildings at the Visitor Center are not open this summer.
Canoe & Kayak Rentals (Available July-Labor Day)
We’re now closed for the season. Thanks for a great summer!
Rent a canoe or kayak and take a self-guided tour of the meandering Dunstan River to explore the unique habitat of the salt marsh.
- Rental Hours: 9 am–4 pm, and the last boat has to be back by 5 pm
- Friday–Wednesday $20/hour; $28/1.5 hours; $35/2 hours ($45 maximum)
- Maine Residents Discount Thursday – $2 discount off rentals
- At least one person in your group must be 18 years or older
- Children must be at least 4 years old
- Dogs are not permitted in the boats
Tours are over for the 2020 season. See you in 2021!
Guided Canoe Tours: Discover wildlife and plants along the saltwater river habitat in your own canoe. A Maine Audubon naturalist will lead the tour.
Full Moon Canoe Tours: Experience the sights and sounds of the marsh creatures under the full moon.
Sunset Canoe Tours: See the reflection of the setting sun on the calm waters of the Dunstan River, observe the herons and shorebirds flying back to their roosts, and enjoy the sounds of the evening marsh.
Bird Walks: Wednesday mornings through the end of September. Join us for our Wednesday morning Bird Walk. We meet at the Nature Center and check out the birds there and head to local hot spots in Scarborough. We may hit Pine Point, the Eastern Trail, Pelreco and Dunstan Landing. Registration is not required; please bring $5 (cash and exact change only).
Wildlife & Habitat
Scarborough Marsh provides critical habitat for a broad array of wildlife, particularly birds. Waterfowl, egrets, herons, Glossy Ibis and many species of shorebirds depend on this rich ecosystem for food, a place to rest during migration, and nesting habitat. The marsh is also an excellent spot to find a number of grassland songbirds not commonly found in other parts of Maine, as well as various birds of prey that hunt in the marsh throughout the year. Muskrat, mink, otter, and deer also frequent the wetland.
For a virtual tour of a salt marsh and detailed guides to the plants and wildlife you’ll find there, visit Robert Zottoli’s excellent Field Trip to a New England Salt Marsh.
Scarborough Marsh has a long history of human use. Sokokis Indians hunted, trapped, clammed, and fished on the wetland. When European settlers arrived in the 1600s, they harvested the salt hay as fodder for cattle and sheep and used the marsh as summer pasture. The 19th century saw increased ditching, filling of pannes, and the introduction of tidal gates, which prevent the tide from flooding portions of the marsh. Channels were dug to allow boats built inland to float through the marsh out to sea.
When haying declined in the 1900s, people began to view marshes as sacrifice areas for airports or cheap space on which to fill and build. Scarborough Marsh was even proposed as a site for the town dump. Recognizing that a significant coastal wildlife habitat was threatened, in 1957 the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife began the twenty-year process of acquiring the marsh. In 1972, Maine Audubon initiated a partnership with the state to convert into a nature center an old clam shack at the edge of the marsh.
Today, Scarborough Marsh is a workplace for clam diggers, a classroom for schoolchildren, a laboratory for biologists, prime territory for fishermen and hunters, and a fascinating, ever-changing world for naturalists, especially birders. Every spring and summer, more than 10,000 people begin their journey into the marsh at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.
Connect with Us
360° Aerial Tour
Many thanks to Biddeford Savings Bank for its support of educational programming at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.