Written by GOseacoast Walks
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With the exception of Odiorne Point in Rye, this is the region’s largest and most scenic and diverse area to wander. The WWII era cement forts are crumbling, but the seaside path is spectacular for its rocky shore. More amazingly, these photos were taken in January.
Fort Foster in Kittery, Maine
Season: The park is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Rules: No littering, no alcohol, no hunting, 5 mph speed limit for cars. No windsurfing, kayaking or boat trailers allowed. Scuba diving and small unpowered watercraft allowed in designated area. Fires in grilles and fire pits only.
Dogs: Allowed on leash. Pooper-scooper rules apply.
Rates: $10 per car during season or $5 per walk-in or bike rider. Kittery locals can get a season pass for $10 ($5 for seniors).
Facilities: Marked walking trails, picnic areas and cooking areas, receration areas for groups, pavilion area available to rent for groups up to 100, long pier, rocky beach.
Yes, these photos were taken in mid-January during a hot spell, so imagine how lush the scenery is during the summer. But we’re cheap and it costs money in the summer.
The fort is less than two miles from Frisbee’s Store in Kittery Point, but you have to navigate the twisty roads along Pepperrell Cove, Chauncey Creek and Gerrish Island to find it. Then you park and hike in – not too far – but this is among the more extensive flat, waterside hiking spots in the region.
The hulking gray military structures enhance the dramatic views of the Piscataqua. They are so forlorn, cold and useless. Yet in winter, coated in a few inches of snow, the concrete bunker, once mounted with deadly artillery guns, blends into the rocky scenery. This expansive military complex was set up, initially, as the high-tech defense of the Navy Yard. After the Spanish American war, the goal was to hit the enemy four miles out to sea. Each new war brought enhancements. By WW II the harbor between Fort Foster and New Castle was strung with 5,000 pound mines, ready to be detonated beneath an enemy ship.
You won’t learn any of this by walking the site. There is little historic interpretation at present. The fort is named for a NH Civil War general whose picture is hanging in the state capitol in Concord. We visited a similar coastal defense site in western Canada during the winter last year and the place was alive with historians and reconstructed armories. No one had ever attacked western Canada by sea either, but the place was decked out like a battlefield museum. Here no one seems to know, or care, about homeland security gone by.
In winter (when it snows) the 88-acre park is all cross-country skiers, kids on swings, dog walkers and winter hikers. The path along the open river is every bit as spectacular as the view from Odiorne Point or New Castle Common. Waves crash on strange looking rocks that jut straight out of the sand. Without a boat you can’t get any closer to Wood Island lifesaving station and Whaleback Light than you can from the pier at Fort Foster. On a clear icy day you can almost touch the Isles of Shoals.
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OUTSIDE LINK: PortsmouthForts.com
Continue FORT FOSTER Winter Walking photos tour
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