About Portland Trails
Portland, Maine is must smaller than its west coast sibling of the same name and still, the city supports minor league baseball, an ice hockey team and as of recent a semi-pro basketball squad. The Portland Head Light, a picturesque lighthouse, situated on the nearby rocky Atlantic coastline is the city’s unofficial icon, even though the limestone tower is actually located in the town of Cape Elizabeth.
Still, there are many things to do within the city limits, including a leisurely stroll along one of the many trails that have been developed and maintained by the Portland Trails. Originally conceived as the Forest City Land Trust in 1976, Portland Trails did not construct their first urban walking path until 1991, when a 3.6 circular route was laid out along Back Cove.
Today, this combination walking trail, bike route and exercise path is one of the most visited outdoor recreation sites in the city. Not only does the four-foot wide gravel path provide an excellent aerobic workout, but the popular walkway also provides an excellent vista of the modest city skyline.
During the 90’s various stretches of trails were added throughout the city. Much of the work was accomplished by volunteer weekend work crews, who excavated and leveled numerous walking paths through wooded urban glades and a occasional unspoiled coastal marsh.
As of 2010, the Portland Trail system encompassed over 30 miles of urban walking trails. Highlighted by two scenic waterfalls that visually belong in the wilder areas of western Maine, the Portland Trail system provides many areas, where walkers can enjoy being surrounded by a quiet and natural environment. Trails even exist on Peaks Island a small part of the city that is connected to the mainland only by the aid of a large transport ferry.
The Eastern Promenade
Another popular route developed by both Portland Trails and the city is the Eastern Promenade, a 2.1 paved path that is popular with cyclists, in-line skaters and Sunday strollers. This trail follows the harbor shoreline from the popular Old Port to the public boat landing and beach at the East End of Portland. From the walkway the view across Casco Bay includes many islands, lighthouses and watercraft.
Presently, the Portland Trails organization is busy maintaining the 26 different sites, as well as finding ways to join many of the walking paths in a continuous circuit. For those visiting Portland, maps of the trail system are available online or they can be found at any public tourist office and many private businesses. Try it – you’ll like it.