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The Marginal Way | A Coastal Stroll in Ogunquit, ME

The Marginal Way | A Coastal Stroll in Ogunquit, ME
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The Marginal Way, in Ogunquit, Maine, is anything but. Marginal, that is—in the traditional sense of the word.

Marginal Way Ogunquit

Photo/Art by Annie GravesVista along the Marginal Way.

Merriam-Webster defines “marginal” as “very slight or small,” or “not very important.”

One of 39 benches.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesOne of 39 benches.

Quite the opposite is true here.

The Restless Sea.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesThe Restless Sea.

In fact, of course, the name actually refers to the “margin” between land and sea. This slender 1¼-mile-long beauteous cliff walk is a winding path of windblown gorgeousness that edges the Atlantic like a tightrope strung along the heights.

A surprisingly easy amble.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesA surprisingly easy amble.

The view spreads out and down—to the icy, thundering seawater, smashing against rocks, spraying out over tide pools, buffeting seal-smooth wet-suited surfers and divers.

Everyone has a different way of enjoying it.

Three ways to enjoy the view.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesThree ways to enjoy the view.

Both the “to” and “fro” of this walk are equally tantalizing. One end of the Marginal Way starts near Ogunquit’s surreally beautiful three-mile stretch of sandy beach and dunes.

View from the deck at Surfside Restaurant.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesView from the deck at Surfside Restaurant.

The walk finishes up at Perkins Cove, a little movie-set concentration of cuteness that also happens to be a working dock for the fishing boats that come and go like, well, like fishing boats.

The bustle of Perkins Cove.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesThe bustle of Perkins Cove.

The beauty of this beautiful walk cannot be overstated. Nor can the overall friendliness of the experience, in every sense of the word. Physically, there is little climbing involved, and definitely maximum payoff for the little climbing that you will do.

Weathered grove.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesWeathered grove.

And on the topic of personal friendliness, your fellow walkers will be a cheery bunch overall, and why not? You’re basking together in Maine treasure.

View from Bench 29.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesView from Bench 29.

For that reason, too, we must also give great thanks for the 39 benches placed strategically along the way, affording multiple opportunities to ponder, exclaim, or just sit.

Here are some additional high points.

Once you leave the beach at Ogunquit and slip down tucked-away Wharf Lane,

Seriously photogenic Wharf Lane.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesSeriously photogenic Wharf Lane.

you’ll merge onto busy Shore Road.

Carnival atmosphere on Shore Road.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesCarnival atmosphere on Shore Road.

From there, you’ll saunter along until you reach the very-obvious entry path to the Marginal Way, flanked by hotel gardens with flaring views of water and sky.

Just off Shore Road.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesJust off Shore Road.

The cork-screwing path meanders past the hotels’ manicured lawns and a few mostly-modest houses wedged above the walkway. Then it winds, down and around rocky flats stacked with cairns, and through shady groves, and always and ever, there’s the sea.

Breaking waves.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesBreaking waves.

You’ll pass a cool little lighthouse,

To the lighthouse!

Photo/Art by Annie GravesTo the lighthouse!

and get lots of ideas of ways to spend your time here. Obviously there’s fishing and surfing, as well as talking on your phone or taking pictures. But you’ll also see some unexpected diversions, like chess,

Chess with a view.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesChess with a view.

treasure hunting,

Treasure hunting.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesTreasure hunting.

and sketching.


Photo/Art by Annie GravesInspiration.

Reading is always an option, too,

Best reading room.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesBest reading room.

or just plain contemplating.


Photo/Art by Annie GravesContemplation.

And when you’re ready for a little action, Perkins Cove is just around the corner, with lively restaurants,

Into the cove.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesInto the cove.


Coming home.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesComing home.

and the freshest catch of the day.

Just off the boat.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesJust off the boat.

Take time on your return stroll to check out the monuments scattered along the Marginal Way. One of the bronze plaques is scripted with the words of John Muir:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer, and give strength to body and soul alike.

Here is a path promising just that. An easy walk, with 39 benches, each one numbered, so you can claim a favorite.

Find a bench with your name on it.

View from Bench 23.

Photo/Art by Annie GravesView from Bench 23.


Annie Graves


Annie Graves


Annie Graves is a regular contributor to Yankee. A New Hampshire native, she has been a writer and editor for over 25 years, while composing music and writing young adult novels. Find out more about Annie at

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2 Responses to The Marginal Way | A Coastal Stroll in Ogunquit, ME

  1. DPG October 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Oh, such a feast for the eyes and the heart!!! I LOVE Marginal Way, and you have brought me back to its majesty with these gorgeous photos and storybook trip down memory lane. :-} Thank you for such a special (and beautiful) travelogue through one of Maine’s sparkling jewels. I want to go back…right now!!!

  2. JG Murphree October 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    The Marginal Way is perhaps the best support to Maine’s Tourism motto “The Way Life Should Be”

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