Visitor Activities

  • Hunting


    Refuge hunting information is updated annually. The information below is intended to provide users with an idea of the opportunities we offer at the refuge. Hunting permits will be available during the last week in August.

    The refuge will be open to the following hunting seasons:

    - Big Game (deer and fall turkey season): Firearm and Archery (fox & coyote may be taken with bow or shotgun with deer permit during the firearm season)
    - Migratory Birds (duck, geese, woodcock, snipe)
    - Upland Game Birds (ruffed grouse, pheasant, quail)
    - Special Falconry Season

    ATVs are not permitted. Turkey hunting in the spring is not permitted. Hunting permits are required; a fee is required for each permit. Please visit the permits page for instructions on obtaining a hunting permit.

  • Fishing


    Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge has designated sites that may be used by anglers. All Maine fishing regulations apply. Use of all areas is contingent upon user cooperation. Refuge regulations require use of non-lead jigs and sinkers to prevent waterbird poisoning. Areas open dawn until dusk only. Anglers must attend their lines at all times. The collection of bait fish is prohibited on the refuge. Carry out all litter, including monofilament, which can be dangerous to birds and other wildlife. Obey refuge signs and private property. Fishing access sites are listed here.

    Learn More
  • Shellfishing


    The refuge tidal flats offer opportunities for recreational shellfishing. Town licenses are required and all refuge, state, and town shellfishing regulations apply. Access is limited to 1 person per license and from sunrise to sunset.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Wildlife Observation

    Nearly 100,000 visitors use 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.

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  • Photography


    Saltmarsh sparrows and other salt marsh wading birds are often seen during the summer months at the observation deck located on Furbish Road in Wells, Maine.

    From the observation platform at Goosefare Brook in Saco, ME, visitors commonly see piping plovers and other shorebirds during the summer months. Be sure to bring your binoculars!

    Additional wildlife photography sites are available at the areas listed in the wildlife viewing section above.

  • Interpretation


    Interpretation at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge consists of a self-guided trail, several interpretive signs on a few divisions that talk about salt marsh restoration, phenology, shorebirds, waterfowl, wading birds, shrubland management 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.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental Education

    The refuge provides U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service curriculum to local teachers on a request or opportunistic basis. Programs such as Adopt-A-Salmon and virtual National Wildlife Refuge visits are available and throughout the website numerous wildlife and habitat learning links are available. 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.

  • Canoe and Kayak Sites

    Canoe and Kayking

    There are three areas within Rachel Carson NWR where non-motorized canoes and kayaks can launch and land in support of wildlife observation and fishing during daylight hours only.
    These areas are designated by “Carry In Boat Access Only” signs and are located at:

    - Chauncey Creek, on Seapoint Road in Kittery, Maine
    - Little River, at the end of Granite Point Road in Biddeford, Maine
    - Spurwink River, at the fish pier on Route 77 in Scarborough, Maine


    Please be mindful that while traveling through the refuge we ask that you remain in your boats and do not venture onto land which is vital habitat for migrating birds and other creatures. Please plan ahead and know the tides, as much of the marsh is not navigable during low tide. Marine charts will help identify the main channels and prevent you from getting lost in the maze of creeks and channels. Public Fishing areas on the refuge are not car top launch sites.