Southern Maine is an ideal destination to get out and explore while enjoying wildlife, nature, and breathtaking views. Some of my favorite trails can be found within reasonable driving distance of Portland which is always a bonus for me! These hikes are great to explore during the summer and autumn months.
A wealth of natural habitats and ecosystems make up Cape Elizabeth’s 9,000 acres. You can explore trail systems that wind through tidal saltwater marshes, old forests, bold ocean ridges, sandy beaches, and open meadow conservation lands. Look for the green “G” Greenbelt sign which most of the town’s trails are marked with. My favorites are the Great Pond Trail, Robinson Woods, and Canterbury Trail. Gull Crest is great in the winter, they have groomed cross country and snow shoe trails! These trails are made accessible and maintained beautifully by the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust.
This 85 acre preserve is the home of Jewell Falls, Portland‘s only natural waterfall. The Sanctuary is also one of the most ecologically engaging trail networks in Southern Maine. The location, where salt and freshwater marshes meet, provides diverse wildlife habitats and prime opportunities for birdwatching. I’ve been going on this 5 mile trail since I was a kid and Jewell Falls still impress me every time.
Another favorite Portland trail! This peaceful riverside preserve is an excellent place to bike, run trails, see birds and wildflowers (in the spring and summer). I’ve witnessed some swimming and fishing in the river too, but that’s not my thing. I love to walk this trail in the autumn, the leaves are popping and give the preserve a different feel than in summer. My brother and I tried geocaching here but were unsuccessful. Some of those directions are tricky!
The Wells Reserve is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This beautifully maintained reserve offers one of the most picturesque loop trails in the area and encompasses 2,250 acres of field, forest, salt marsh, and sandy beach. You can explore on your own or join one of many naturalist led walks or kayak tours. They have about 100 led programs each year.
This is great place to spend the day. Pack a lunch and explore more than 3 miles of trails that are open to the public year round. The combination of forest and estuarine habitats make this trail system great for bird watching. I really like the Casco Bay, Harraseeket, and North Loop Trails.
Getting outside and exploring are a great way to spend a day or an afternoon. I just realized that all of my favorite trails are near water and don’t have huge inclines. 🙂 I guess I need to branch out a bit and expand my hiking horizons. What are some of your favorite Maine trails, or New England trails?