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.
There’s plenty to do!
- Watch the shorebirds feeding in the marsh
- Rent a canoe or launch your own
- Join a canoe tour led by Audubon naturalists
- Discover the marsh on your own through natural history displays and a self-guided nature trail
- Go to one of many natural history programs for all ages throughout the summer
- Shop at the Maine Audubon Nature Store for books, toys, Maine-made gifts, and bird-feeding and optic equipment
- Try out our hands-on activities and displays for all ages
- See the aquarium, mounted birds and mammals, and interactive exhibits featured at the center
360° Aerial Tour
- Scarborough Marsh Trail Guide (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Trail Guide – French (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Scavenger Hunt Guide (pdf)
- Scarborough Marsh Scavenger Hunt Guide – French (pdf)
Canoe & Kayak Rentals
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. Maine Audubon will provide life jackets and a map.
- Rental Hours: 9 am-4 pm, and the last boat has to be back by 5 pm
- Cost: $16/hour; $23/1.5 hours; $30/2 hours ($45 maximum)
- 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 canoes
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.
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.
Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center is closed for the 2017 season. We will reopen to the public beginning Memorial Day weekend, May 26–28, 2018. SMAC will also be open the following two weekends, June 2–3 and June 9–10, 2018.
June 16 – September 3, 2018
Open 7 days a week
9:30 am–5 pm
Scheduled group tours begin on May 1, 2018. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make your reservation today.