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A saltwater marsh anyone on two wheels can navigate

June 26, 2011 | By Cathy Genthner, Globe Correspondent

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — I had not been on a bicycle in years and my weight had crept up along with my age. Those concerns evaporated with the early morning fog as soon as I got going.

It was easy pedaling on a 3-mile section of the Eastern Trail that cuts through the center of the Scarborough Marsh, a wildlife sanctuary just 15 minutes outside of Portland. My senses were awakened by the sight of a blue heron nestled among the marsh reeds, the piercing cries of seagulls overhead, and the smell of the stinging salt air as I watched an angler pull in a striper.

“We think it is a unique experience that one can encounter while on the most popular and visible section of the trail,’’ said Bob Hamblen, a vice president for the Eastern Trail Alliance. “You can come by on any given day and see birders, bird hunters during hunting season, fishermen, canoeists, runners, and bicyclists.’’

Seals have been seen swimming under the bridge that crosses the Dunstan River on the trail just off Pine Point Road. Eagles have been spotted.

“People come from all around the world to take in the habitat. There are countless birds and seals. It is a wildlife sanctuary and is protected by the State of Maine. It is dust free, smoke free, and fumes free,’’ said John Andrews, president of the alliance. “The marsh changes every hour as the sun goes across the clouds. It is just a beautiful place to go biking.’’

The trail through the marsh is one segment of the 65-mile trail that runs from Kittery to Portland, taking in eight lighthouses along the way. It is part of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway that stretches from Key West, Fla., to Calais. The trail crossing the marsh begins on Eastern Road (off Black Point Road) and heading south, goes for 3 miles to Pine Point Road and then to Old Blue Point Road. There are parking lots for vehicles and kiosks where the trail intersects the roads. The trail was constructed from the abandoned railroad that was built in 1841. Over a span of more than a century, the line was operated by the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad, followed by the Eastern Railroad, and lastly, the Boston and Maine Railroad until the end of World War II.

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