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Getting outdoors to enjoy the trails in the woods and mountains of Maine isn’t the exclusive domain of the seasoned hiker with all the right gear and lots of experience. The occasional or novice hiker can find plenty of enjoyment with just the stuff you already own and a little bit of good information on where to go.
Pack that backpack with a rain jacket, bug spray, sun lotion, snacks and a water bottle. Then check out one of these easy walks suited for just about everyone, pleasing walks without a lot of distance or elevation gain, but chock full of beautiful scenery and just enough adventure. They’re all less than 2 miles and most of the hikes are within an hour’s drive of Portland.
Have fun and don’t forget your camera for summit shots, scenic snaps and selfies along the way!
The monadnock of Mt. Agamenticus rises to 691 feet in the midst of one the largest remaining expanses of unbroken coastal forest in New England, some 10,000 acres in all. Hike the Ring Trail to the Blueberry Bluff Trail for a fun route to the grassy summit, which offers panoramic views from the Atlantic Ocean to the White Mountains. Explore the old lodge and rusting lift towers of the long defunct Big A Ski Area.
1.4 miles round-trip.
About 50 minutes from Portland. Get directions
More info: www.agamenticus.org
This historic pathway extends from Willard Beach to Bug Light Park along the South Portland waterfront. Walk the sandy beach with views of the Casco Bay islands of Cushing, House, Little Diamond, Great Diamond and Peaks. Next, take the paved walk through the campus of Southern Maine Community College and its arboretum, then scamper along the top of the old battlements of Fort Preble. Finally, hike the long jetty of giant granite blocks to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.
1.5 miles round-trip.
About 15 minutes from Portland. Get directions
More info: www.southportlandlandtrust.org
A wide and generally level foot trail traces a pleasant route around shoreline of this pretty 100-acre island, offering walkers wonderful views of the Casco Bay islands, Fort Gorges and Portland’s Eastern Promenade. Explore the pebbly beaches en route at low tide, kick back and read a good book on one the many benches, check out the pet cemetery where Governor Baxter’s many dogs and even his horse are buried, and build a fairy house in the mystical village.
About 10 minutes from Portland. Get directions
A walk through the beautiful gardens, trails and wild spaces of this nationally-acclaimed 250-acre property is an experience to be treasured. Tour the visitor center, then meander about through the Rose & Perennial, Great Lawn & Ledge, Burpee Kitchen, Children’s and Rhododendron gardens, the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses and others. Then make your way to the edge of the garden proper and hike the Shoreland and Huckleberry trails along the scenic Back River.
1 to 2 miles round-trip. $14 admission.
About an hour and 10 minutes from Portland. Get directions
Sand Beach is tucked into Newport Cove between the cliffs of Great Head and the towering rock face of The Beehive on the east side of Mount Desert Island. Saunter across the beach through the throngs of summer sun worshipers and daring swimmers, then head up the Great Head Trail. From the airy view point above, look west and south to the long ridge of Champlain and Gorham mountains and the precipitous pink granite cliffs along Ocean Drive leading to the spruce-studded Otter Point.
0.75 miles round-trip. Park admission is $5 without a car or $20 with a car.
About 3 hours from Portland. Get directions
Higgins Mountain is one of the highest points of land on the Georgetown Peninsula, and as such, provides stunning coastal views eastward over Robinhood Cove to Sheepscot Bay. Pitch pines and blueberries dominate the summit ledges, which were burned in the Great Georgetown Fire of 1908 and several subsequent blazes. The mountain was donated to the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust by Billie Todd (Mrs. Warren Todd) in 2000 after the death of her husband. A plaque atop the hill honors both.
About 50 minutes from Portland. Get directions
The Nature Conservancy protects the 1,223-acre Saco Heath Preserve, where a trail and boardwalk combine to guide visitors through the woods and out onto a beautiful raised bog, or heath. Sedges, mosses, sheep laurel, rhodora and Labrador tea grow in the semi-open peatlands here, as do pitch pines, white pines, tamarack and Atlantic white cedar. Look also for the insect-devouring pitcher plants as well as juicy red cranberries. Seven interpretive markers en route correspond to a nature guide available online.
1 mile round-trip.
About 30 minutes from Portland. Get Directions
The 317-foot open summit of Pigeon Hill — the highest point along the coast in Washington County—provides a spectacular vantage point with far-reaching views of Petit Manan and Bois Bubert islands (both are part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge) as well as Dyer and Pigeon Hill bays and Douglas Island Harbor. The Historic Trail offers the most direct route to the top, but you can combine the Summit Loop, Ledge Woods and Silver Mine trails for a slightly longer journey.
0.8 to 2 miles round-trip.
About 3 hours and 15 minutes from Portland. Get directions
Take a stroll through the old growth pines and hemlocks of Vaughan Woods, a 250-acre gem of natural beauty along the banks of the Salmon Falls River. A series of loop trails provides options for as long or short a walk as desired. From the main River Run trail you can loop back via Porcupine Path, Windy Walk, Nubble Knoll, Warren Way or Old Gate paths. Or complete the entire outer loop via Bridle Path. A side trip to the historic Hamilton House, perched on a sweet spot above the river adjacent to the park, is a must.
1 to 2-mile loop. $2 fee.
1 hour from Portland. Get directions
Clamber up the iron rungs of the ladders on the steep Beech Cliff Trail to reach incredible views atop Beech Cliff. Straight down the steep expanse of rock are the pristine waters of Echo Lake and its sandy beach, while further east are the tree-studded granite humps of Acadia and St. Sauveur mountains. Just southeast of the peaks is Somes Sound, Maine’s only fjord. The jungle gym of ladders isn’t for everyone, so if your nerves aren’t up for it, take the longer but less hairy Canada Cliff Trail to the top.
0.8 to 2 miles round-trip. $14 park fee.
3 hours from Portland. Get directions
You will find just about every Maine landscape nestled in the Wells Reserve. An easy 2-mile hike will reward you with sand beaches, marsh lands, massive pines, old-growth forests, fields — both trimmed and wild, estuaries, brooks and rivers. After your walk, treat yourself to the best doughnut of your life.