Surprise, there's a beach in Cumberland.
Maybe you knew about this, but it was a real shocker to me. Not only is Broad Cove Reserve a gorgeous stretch of beach, but it also sits on 104 acres that includes woods and trails. Can I get an amen?
Located in Cumberland Foreside off of route 88 near the intersection of Tuttle Road, Broad Cove Reserve offers a stretch of sandy beach, a dock, meadows, woods and lime green marine grass. Running parallel to Route 88 is the .6 mile, wooded "Stonewall Trail". Here you will find remains of the old town farm and quiet walking trails.
Parking is only allowed at the top of Beach Drive in a lot you will see on your right as you enter. From there, you can walk down the long, steep drive to the beach. Or drive down to unload your things (and kids?) before returning to the lot for parking. Beach Drive has two looping paths off of it, one in the woods and on through a field.
And now, for some very interesting history. Broad Cove Reserve was once the site of important fishing grounds for the Abenaki people. In addition, it was once the location of the Cumberland town farm. According to a sign on the trail, "Nineteenth-century Maine law authorized the building of work houses for the employment of the 'idle and indignant,' and anyone receiving support from the town was liable to be sent to a work house. Records show that on April 3, 1837, Cumberland voters approved the purchase of 'a suitable farm on which to keep and maintain the paupers belonging to this town..." Yikes. If you feel like we haven't made any progress in regards to social justice, just take a step back in time. We may have miles to go, but have come a long, long, way folks.
This institution served (hmmm...is served the right word?) the town's most disadvantaged residents until it was sold in 1866 for a whopping $1,900. The ownership of the farm changed hands several times before landing with Herbert J. Brown of Portland in 1919. His daughter Marion Brown Payson granted a conservation easement on the property in 1997 to the Cumberland Mainland and Islands Trust (now known as the Cumberland & Chebeague Land Trust or CCLT), which reserved the right to build seven additional houses and the public trail along Route 88. In 2014, the Payson heirs sold the property to the 179 Foreside, LLC. The Town of Cumberland purchased part of the parcel to create Broad Cover Reserve, which is managed today by the Town and CCLT. The Town now welcomes public access to the beach and has improved the access road and bath house for use by anyone visiting the beach.
Time for a clue on the heart we left for you at this lovely place. Walk down Beach Drive to the boardwalk leading down to the beach. Head right, past the dock and start looking for a heart made of rocks, somewhere along the shore before you get to the beach grass. In reality, it may have been washed away with the tides by the time you get there. My apologies if this is the case, but as nature is so good about reminding us, the only constant is change. Once you have or have not found our heart, it's time to create your own design. Then take a photo and email it to me at email@example.com. Once I receive 5 of these trail photos, I will send you a prize. Happy hunting and enjoy your time at the beach!