Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region

Plan Your Visit

Driving Directions


The following guidelines will help make your visit to Rachel Carson NWR more safe and enjoyable.

Designated refuge trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset. The Refuge Headquarters is open Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., except Federal Holidays. During the summer (Memorial Day through mid-August), Refuge Headquarters is also open Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m

Entrance Fee
There is no fee required to visit the Refuge.

Wildlife Observation and Photography
Nearly 100,000 visitors used the one-mile Carson Trail at the Wells headquarters; one of five developed trails on the Refuge. The headquarters trail in Upper Wells has an informational kiosk and composting restrooms. The 1.8-mile Cutts Island Trail in Brave Boat Harbor Division has trail signs and restrooms. The Timber Point Trail is located in the Little River Division at the end of Granite Point Road in Biddeford, Maine. This 1.25-mile walk takes you through a variety of habitats and ends on the rocky shore over looking the Atlantic Ocean. Carry-in boat access is available on Chauncy Creek at the intersection of Cutts Island and Seapoint Roads in Kittery, the Little River launch site is located at the end of Granite Point Road in Biddeford, and a third launch site is at the Spurwink River Division by Rt. 77 in Scarborough. Parking is available through verbal agreement with the Towns. The Goosefare Brook Trail and overlook offers parking, a short stone-dust trail and interpreted observation platform with views of the marsh and beach. However, there is no beach access from this location. The Bridle Path and Atlantic Way and Ted Wells Trails provide views of Refuge habitat in Kennebunk and Saco and Old Orchard Beach.  These trails are located on and adjacent to Refuge property and are maintained by municipal or private non-profit organizations. 

Environmental Education
The Refuge provides Service curriculum to local teachers on a request or opportunistic basis.  Programs such as Adopt-A-Salmon and virtual NWR visits are available, but not promoted. The Refuge website leads to numerous wildlife and habitat learning links. We are seeking to meet the Service’s environmental education goals of: a process designed to develop a citizenry that has the awareness, concern, knowledge, attitude, skill, motivation, and commitment to work toward solutions of current environmental problems and the prevention of new ones. Environmental education within the National Wildlife Refuge System incorporates on-site, off-site, and distance learning materials, activities, programs and products that address the audience’s course of study, mission of the Refuge System, and the management purposes of the field station.

Interpretation is currently limited to a self-guided trail, several interpretive signs on a few Divisions that talk about salt marsh restoration, shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, and wetlands in general. During the summer months we have interns conduct programs on the Carson Trail at the Headquarters in Wells every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a national education program to inform visitors about reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities, particularly non-motorized recreation. Leave No Trace principles and practices are based on an abiding respect for the natural world and our fellow wildland visitors. We can act on behalf of the places and wildlife that inspire us by adopting the following skills and ethics that enable us to Leave No Trace:

Plan ahead and Prepare.
Travel on durable surfaces.
Dispose of waste properly.
Leave what you find.
Respect wildlife.
Be considerate of other visitors.

A Few Simple Rules:

* Public use of designated trails within the refuge for nature study, hiking and photography is permitted from sunrise to sunset.

* In an effort to protect delicate habitats, and avoid ticks and poison ivy, we ask that you stay on designated trails.

* Firearms by permit only during designated hunts and prohibited from federal buildings.

* Pets - Leashed dogs are allowed on the Carson Trail in Wells. Otherwise, domestic pets, including horses, are not allowed on the refuge.

* Plants, Animals, and Artifacts - Disturbing or collecting is prohibited. Please don't feed wildlife.

Last updated: August 22, 2012