Maine is rightly known for its scenic rocky coast, leaving sandy beaches hard to come by. That makes Popham Beach in Phippsburg well worth the drive (and an early morning alarm).
The 3,650-yard beach, which is accessible through Popham Beach State Park, offers the standard seaside fare — wading in the chilly water or perhaps a quick swim, building sandcastles and warming in the sun.
A walk out to Fox Island (check with the ranger at the park entrance to make sure you won’t be stranded by the incoming tide) is a great diversion. For the ambitious, walk up the beach and along the Kennebec River to Fort Popham. Be sure to look for sand dollars and watch for seals bobbing in the Kennebec.
A lobster roll or ice cream at Spinney’s near the fort will fortify you for the walk back.
The beach has been altered dramatically due to erosion caused by the changing course of the Morse River, at the beach’s south end. Portions of the dunes lining the beach have been washed away, leaving steep dropoffs. The park’s website includes a calendar where you can check for days when the beach space is limited due to extremely high tides, http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/parksinfo/popham/pophambeach.shtml.
In March, the river returned to its original course, and the beach is rebuilding itself. Park officials expect a bigger beach to be formed by next summer.
On sunny summer weekends, plan to arrive before 10 a.m. to ensure you’ll find a parking space. And don’t forget the sunscreen.