what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park: Things to Do, Hiking Trails, Maps, Fees & More

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Situated in southern Maine along Casco Bay is the beautiful and tranquil Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.  This former farmland has been retaken by the forest, and what’s now protected contains plenty of hiking trails, water access, incredible birding and great recreation opportunities.

what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

You can head here for just an hour or so or spend the better part of the day exploring, picnicking and just being outside in nature.  While the park can get quite busy, all you need to do is walk a bit and you can find peace and solitude.  And if you are one of the hearty ones to visit in the winter, then you may find yourself in the park all alone.

No reservations are required, and neither is extensive planning.  However, we hope our guide can let you know what you can expect in the park, and give you a few reasons to come in the event you are not sure if this park is for you!

WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK HISTORY

The property that currently comprises Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park was originally farmland, since as early as the 1830s.  It was originally owned in the 1730s by Henry and Rachel Woolfe.

what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

The land was farmed by Henry and Rachel and their descendants.

The most recent owners, Lawrence M.C. Smith and his wife, Eleanor Houston, purchased the land in 1946.  They enjoyed the land as summertime residents, before donating it to the state in 1969.

The park was established in 1972 as Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, honoring the original owners.  Today the park is made up of 245 acres of land and welcomes about 70,000 visitors each year, with most of them coming in the summer and fall.

THINGS TO DO IN WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK

wolfe's neck woods state park map

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park map, courtesy of Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

When you come to visit Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, there are a number of things to do to keep you busy, especially if you like to explore the outdoors on foot and are willing to walk a bit.  Even if you want to just relax and not put forth much effort, this is a great place to hang out! 

When visiting Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, our recommendations include:

Birding

Birding in general is popular in Maine, but this particular area is special due to the predictability of the Osprey Nesting pair that come to Googins Island every year.  The Osprey arrive in April and start to work on getting the area setup for the newcomers.  Eggs are cared for through June when they hatch.  The chicks stay in the nest until early August, when they first learn to fly.  They then depart in September to make the long journey to South America.

Ocean viewing

If you are like us, you can just sit and watch the water and waves for an extended period of time.  The best and quickest way to do that is to take the short walk from the parking area right to the shore (look for the signs).  You can walk down to the shore and find a good spot to sit and take in the scenery.  Be careful, though, as the rocks can be slippery when wet or icy.

    what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

     

    Picnicking

    There are a good number of picnic sites near parking area #2.  Some are located in a small grassy area, and others are situated in the woods.  While the areas can be buggy during the spring time, they are in the shade and help keep you cool on summer days. 

      what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

       

      Nature programs

      The local rangers offer nature programs throughout the year.  In the summer, they are offered daily at 2:00 pm.  In fall and spring, they are at 2:00 pm on weekends.  In the winter, they are only offered on Sundays at 2:00 pm.

      Hiking

      To really see the park, you just can’t beat hiking and getting out on the trails.  There is a maze of trails that head throughout the park, and you can just pick a starting path and find your way and explore as you go.  Before you hike, we do recommend taking a photo of the map so you don’t get lost or turned around.  Plus, there are a few interesting things to see along the way and the map can help point those out to you!

      We cover the best hikes in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in the next section.

        HIKING IN WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK: TRAIL DESCRIPTIONS AND TRAIL MAPS

        Harraseeket Trail to White Pines Loop Trail

        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Distance (round-trip): 2.1 miles
        • Elevation gain: 210 feet
        • Hiking time (approximate): 1 to 1.5 hours
        harraseeket trail to white pines loop trail map in wolfe's neck woods state park

        Harraseeket Trail to White Pines Loop Trail map, courtesy of Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

        Our favorite hike is the Harraseeket Trail to White Pines Loop Trail. This is an easy hike that has an elevation gain of about 200 feet over 2.1 miles (round-trip).  You can start the hike from parking lot #2 and head to the shore on the White Pines Trail.  You’ll head through a beautiful grove of white pines before finding yourself on the coast.  You can check out the nesting Osprey at Goggins Island (at the 0.1-mile point) before continuing on along the Casco Bay Trail, which hugs the coast.  Take your time along this part of the hike and enjoy the ocean views before meeting up with the Harraseeket Trail and heading west (across the “neck”) to the Harraseeket River (with one road crossing).  The trail heads long the river briefly with a few great spots to see the water before heading back west through the Hemlock forest and back to the parking area.

        The trailhead starts on the north side of parking area #2, and you can hike counterclockwise or clockwise.  Clockwise is a bit easier as the Harraseeket Trail is a bit challenging to navigate to if you decide to do this part first.

          what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park
          what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

           

          White Pines Trail

          • Difficulty: Easy
          • Distance (round-trip): 1.1 miles
          • Elevation gain: 40 feet
          • Hiking time (approximate): 30 to 45 minutes
          white pines trail map in wolfe's neck woods state park

          White Pines Trail map, courtesy of Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

          The White Pines Trail is another great option. This easy hike is only about 1.1-miles (round-trip) and has about 40 feet of elevation gain.  The hike starts by hiking to the shoreline and then heading north along the salt marsh.  This is a short hike but a good option if you are limited on time or energy.

          The trailhead starts on the north side of parking area #2.

            what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

             

            North Loop Trail

            • Difficulty: Easy
            • Distance (round-trip): 0.7 miles
            • Elevation gain: 30 feet
            • Hiking time (approximate): 30 minutes
            north loop trail map in wolfe's neck woods state park

             

            North Loop Trail map, courtesy of Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

            Another short option is the North Loop Trail. This 0.7-mile (round-trip) hike is easy, with only 30 feet of elevation gain.  The hike starts to the north before heading to the border of the park and taking a sharp right to the coastline (to the east).  After a short loop along the coast, the trail meets back up with itself and then heading back to the parking area.  This hike is the least popular one in the park, but worth doing if you are limited on time.

            The trailhead starts on the north side of parking area #2.

              what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

              You can of course take any of the multitudes of trails in the park that cross through the woods to extend or shorten the Harraseeket Trail. 

              WHAT IS THERE TO DO NEAR WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK?

              Whether you are looking for more to do in the outdoors or if shopping at the nearby outlets are more your speed, then there is plenty to do nearby Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.  Our recommendations include the following:

              • By far the biggest man-made attraction that is right nearby is the Freeport Outlets. Though we love the outdoors, the outlets here are worth walking through.  They are all outside, and this is home to the flagship store (more like a complex!) for LL Bean.  The Freeport Outlets are located only about 5 miles away on Route 1.
              • If you are looking for another great state park nearby, Mackworth Island State Park has plenty of trails and a beach that you should check out. Mackworth Island is located about 30 min away on Highway 1 in Falmouth, ME.
              • If you want to take a few hikes with some elevation gain, then Bradbury Mountain State Park is a great option. There is some great hiking as well as biking and camping here.  Bradbury Mountain State Park is in Pownal, ME, about 10 miles inland (and about 5 miles inland of Freeport, ME).

               

              HOW TO GET TO WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK AND OTHER TRAVEL INFORMATION

              Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is easy to get to, but it is off the beaten path and required you to go down some back roads to get here.  It’s only about 15 minutes (maximum) from the nearby interstate, and only about 10 minutes from Freeport, ME.

              After departing Freeport, you will travel through rolling hills and beautiful woods.  Be sure to go slowly as you approach the park, as some of the trails pass across the road.

              ENTRANCE FEES AND REQUIRED PASSES FOR WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK

              Entrance fees are required for Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.  You can find details here, but costs are between $2 and $6, depending on your age and whether or not you are a resident of Maine.

              WHERE TO STAY AND CAMPING IN WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK

              There is unfortunately no lodging or camping inside of Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.  There are plenty of small inns, Bed and Breakfasts and hotels in nearby Freeport, ME.

              BEST TIME TO VISIT WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK

              The park is open year-round, so you can come at any time.  All seasons offer uniquely different experiences.  The summer is warm, and since there is access to both shade and water, this is a great place to spend the day and not bake yourself in the sun as you might on the local beaches.  The colors in the fall are spectacular, and even after the leaves fall, there is something incredible about watching the water as it starts to really cool down.

              Springtime is beautiful, with the Osprey arriving and nesting.  You will also find a large number of flowers start to bloom, even in the woods.  If you do come in the spring, be prepared for black flies, which can be quite bothersome as they can bite you quite aggressively.

              Whenever you come, you are sure to enjoy your visit.  Just be prepared, and even in the summer be sure you have a light jacket with you!

              VISITING WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK IN THE WINTER

              Wintertime is quite special here, with the hiking trails becoming snowshoeing trails.  A walk through the woods is amazing, as you’ll likely see plenty of animal tracks and beautiful ice formations in the creeks.

              Be advised, that the ocean spray makes the rocks extremely slippery when they ice up, so stay off them when there might be ice on them or you may go for a very cold (and dangerous!) swim.

              ARE PETS ALLOWED IN WOLFE’S NECK WOODS STATE PARK?

              Pets are for sure allowed in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.  However, they must be kept on a leash at all times, and you must clean up after your pet.  You also may not leave you pet unattended.  The trails are quite narrow in the park, so if you plan on hiking, be sure you can keep your pet under control as they pass by other animals, even though they are on a leash.

              what to see and do in wolfe's neck woods state park

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              About Just Go Travel Studios

              We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

              As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

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