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Welcome to Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth & Freeport

When you exit the Maine Turnpike in Falmouth, you can take Route 1 north up to the Midcoast area or take Interstate 295 to Cumberland, Yarmouth or Freeport. With L.L. Bean open 24 hours a day, Freeport is Maine’s city that never sleeps. Big happenings in the fall include the Freeport Fall Festival and the Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival. Yet the area has no shortage of quiet, scenic Maine coast beauty, from Mackworth Island, Gilsland Farm and River Point Conservation Area in Falmouth to Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport and Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal. Kitschy and somewhat educational stops include Eartha in Yarmouth and the Desert of Maine in Freeport.

 

1. Mackworth Island

This is the season to delight in fall foliage, which you’ll certainly do on the 1.25-mile hike around Mackworth Island—little more than a walk, really. Turn off Route 1 in Falmouth onto the Andrews Avenue Causeway. With tall pines on the water’s edge and views of Portland on one side and the islands of Casco Bay on the other, walking the perimeter of Mackworth Island is a concentrated dose of Maine’s natural beauty. Halfway around the island, visitors come upon a “village” of fairy houses made of sticks, shells, bark and other natural “found” materials. There’s a sandy beach along the way and several benches. Parking is limited, and the trail is not wheelchair accessible. The middle of the island is home to the Baxter School of the Deaf, which is not open to the public. (trails.org)

2. Gilsland Farm Audubon Center

Gilsland Farm Audubon Center. Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald

This 65-acre historic farm and environmental center is located at 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, along the Presumpscot River estuary, just five minutes from Portland. Visitors enjoy 2 miles of trails, winding along a pond and through woods, meadow, orchard and salt marsh—and a gift shop. (maineaudubon.org/find-us/gilsland-farm)

3. River Point Conservation Area

Located on Route 100, just east of the Falmouth Crossing Shopping Center, River Point is a 41-acre jewel of a property in the middle of an otherwise highly developed area of town. The property borders the Presumpscot River and both east and west branches of the Piscataqua Rivers. Natural features include two small ponds and diverse habitat, and there is a wide variety of plants and wildlife, including the endangered New England cottontail rabbit. There is more than a mile of walking trails. Informational tags identify many of the indigenous trees. Hiking, fishing, and nature study are all allowed. Motorized vehicles are prohibited. Trails are moderately difficult and not handicapped accessible. (207–699–5302)

4. Freeport Fall Festival

The Freeport Fall Festival is three days, Oct. 5-7, focused on music and arts. After you’ve strolled through the artists’ exhibits, grab a picnic lunch and listen to the great tunes. Free concerts include Primo Cubano (Friday 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), Sylvain’s Acadian Aces (Friday 1:30–4 p.m.), Michael Franti & Spearhead, the Stay Human Tour with special guest Victoria Canal (Saturday 4 p.m.), Shadowfly (Sunday 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and Raging Brass Reggae (Sunday 1:30–4 p.m.). On Saturday, Oct. 6, don’t miss the Chowdah Challenge hosted by Freeport Community Services from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the porch of the L.L Bean Home Store ($10 per person). (freeportfallfestival.com)

5. Desert of Maine

Desert of Maine

The name doesn’t lie. This 40-acre desert, at the end of Desert Road on the outskirts of Freeport, has 40 acres of silty sand dunes. A tourist attraction since 1925, the Desert of Maine is the result of poor land management and subsequent erosion when it was used as a farm until 1919. Today, there is a gift shop, convenience store and plenty of things to do outside, including sand designing, trails and a picnic area. It’s open through Oct. 15. (desertofmaine.com)

6. Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival

Come see thousands of jack-o-lanterns and have a day filled with family fun, kids games, pumpkin carving, great tunes, face painting and a costume party. A Maine tradition since 2003, the Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival transforms the streets of Freeport and L.L.Bean campus into a sea of orange in a fundraising event for Camp Sunshine, which hosts children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to retreats on Sebago Lake. The festival is Saturday, Oct. 20 from noon to 5 p.m. There’s no admission fee. (campsunshine.org)

7. Wolfe’s Neck Fall Theme Weekends

Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment is hosting Fall on the Farm weekends through Oct. 21, with workshops, demonstrations, music and food. The themes are Farm Harvest Weekend (Oct. 6–8), Our Community and Sustainability (Oct. 13–14) and Fiber Festivities (Oct. 20–21). While you’re at Wolfe’s Neck, pick up some of autumn’s bounty at the farm store or head out to the fields on a hayride. (wolfesneck.org)

8. Eartha

Eartha. Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald

Eartha, the world’s largest rotating globe, was built to accurately rotate just like the Earth itself. If you’re passing this way on I-95 during weekday business hours, it’s worth a stop (though it’s visible as you drive by anytime). Eartha is in the Garmin research and development center, formerly known as DeLorme, at 2 Delorme Drive in Yarmouth, and access is free on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. From I-295, take exit 17, drive northeast on US Highway 1, then immediately turn right.

9. Hansel’s Orchard

Apple picking is right up there with a foliage drive as a favorite activity in autumn. Hansel’s Orchard, located at 44 Sweester Road in North Yarmouth, has you-pick and already picked apples, with Cortland and Macoun varieties available into October. Late in the season they offer picking poles to reach desirable apples still high in the trees. Call ahead to confirm apples are still available. (207–829–6136)

10. Bradbury Mountain State Park

Bradbury Mountain State Park. Photo by Shannon Bryan

In the countryside of Pownal, not far from Freeport Village, Bradbury Mountain State Park is a place where people can relax with nature. It’s an easy 10- to 15-minute hike to the summit, which is only 485 feet high but affords sweeping views of Casco Bay and is a great spot to witness migrating hawks. There are more than 21 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, camping, a playground and family friendly activities year-round. The camping area is on the other side of Route 9 from the lodge. Bradbury Mountain State Park is open 9 a.m. until sunset and is the only park in southern Maine to offer shared-use trails for horseback riders and mountain bikers. The campground is open year-round.(bradburymountain.com)