I have seen it all while walking Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine: marriage proposals, old couples strolling hand-in-hand, kids realizing that fresh air and light exercise might just be better than texting, and a really pretentious woman getting bit by her pet monkey. Yes, that really happened.
But enough monkeying around with these observational anecdotes, let’s get down to what really makes Marginal Way one of New England’s greatest seaside cliff walks…
1. The views Everywhere you look, there’s a spectacular water view. The mouth of the Ogunquit River meeting the sea results in many ensuing memorable 180 ocean views with some must-see overlooks along the way.
2. The rocky coast Maine is known for its rocky coast, and Marginal Way provides one of the best publicly accessible, safe views of this geological genre. The path serves as a great continuous observation deck, of sorts, for amazing rocky coast views. In between the rocky coast, you’ll also encounter “little beaches.”
3. Perfect walking distance Some trail geeks think Marginal Way is far too easy a walk, tailor made for lazy tourists. To that, I say that sentiment is out to sea. Where else are you going to find a mile and a quarter of incredible ocean views via a paved path? The ocean scenery is what matters here, not the length of the path.
4. Benches Sometimes, you just have to stop and take in the seaside ambiance instead of just walking by everything. Marginal Way provides this opportunity with more than 30 benches where you can pause, reflect and maybe take a few photos!
5. Phony Lighthouse Is it just me, or are some of the phony tourist attractions sometimes the most likeable? There’s a fake lighthouse about half way along the path, and it looks like something you’d see at a miniature golf course. That’s OK, though, it’s nice, in this instance, to have some kind of hokey, familiar attraction along the way as a brief diversion.
6. Aroma Take a deep breath, over and over again, as the gentle summer wind carries the salt sea air into your senses. This is the kind of refreshing natural element we long for after a long, hard winter!
7. Sound The waves crashing on the rocks make for a beautiful, harmonious soundtrack for your walk. If you listen carefully, the sounds vary as not one wave or rock is the same.
8. Plant life Wild sea roses, other colorful plant life and vibrant gardens grace the path, thus adding another layer of natural beauty to this coastal walk.
9. Excellent trail Totally redone in the 1990s, this generally even, flat, well-maintained path affords safe walking opportunities for people of all ages.
10.Nearby attractions, easily walkable On one side of Marginal Way, you have Perkins Cove with its pretty coastal, village-like mix of seafood restaurants, shops, boutiques and lodging. On the other side, you have Ogunquit Beach — generally regarded as one of the best public beaches on the East coast — and the downtown section with plenty of dining and shopping options within a lively but quaint, quintessentially Maine setting.
We usually park at Perkins Cove (there’s a parking fee), but foot access to Marginal Way is free. Finishing in downtown Ogunquit, you have the option to take a summer trolley back to Perkins Cove. We have always walked the whole distance, but it’s nice to know that one has the option of getting a ride back to your starting point.
Marginal Way is open to the public year-round. Sometimes, a good weather day in the off-season offers the greatest experience as the crowds diminish but the scenery never does! Always use common sense when walking Marginal Way by wearing comfortable walking shoes and garment, and staying away when the weather turns crummy. If you just can’t stand Marginal Way, said no one ever, there are several areas where it is possible to exit along the walk.
Some other useful info about Marginal Way, according to Ogunquit.org:
At this writing, you can get married there! Call the town office at 207-646-5139 for updated information.
Marginal Way is handicap accessible, given the path is relatively flat with no stairs. The only challenge could be the modest inclines.
If in the southern Maine area, definitely be sure to include Marginal Way as part of your travel. We think you’ll be amazed by this one-of-a-kind scenic destination!
What do you like most about Marginal Way? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below!
Editor’s note: thanks to Sarah Diment, owner of the Beachmere Inn, Ogunquit, Maine, for sharing some of these amazing photos here!