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Aimsel Ponti

Aimsel Ponti is a Content Producer at MaineToday.com and a music writer for MaineToday.com and the Portland Press Herald. She has been obsessed with - and inspired by - music since she listened to Monkees records borrowed from the town library when she was six years old. She bought her first Rolling Stones record at a flea market when she was in 7th grade and discovered David Bowie a year later. She's a HUGE fan of the local music scene and covers it along with national musical happenings in her "Face the Music" column and with artist interviews that appear in print in the Portland Press Herald and online at Mainetoday.com. You'll also find her out and about absorbing live music like a sponge and roaming around local record shops and flea markets. Aimsel is also the host of Music from 207 on 98.9 WCLZ and appears monthly on the WCHS TV show “207” to talk about...music of course.

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Posted: April 27, 2016

Get outside with your pup: 7 great places for dogs to play in Portland

Written by: Aimsel Ponti
Odie thinking things over and striking a pose at East End Beach in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Odie thinking things over and striking a pose at East End Beach in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

If there’s one thing that Portland has a lot of, it’s dogs. OK, so we also have no shortage of coffee joints, but make no mistake about it, Portland is dog friendly.

There are city dogs who live in the Old Port or on Congress Street, dogs who hang their collars off-peninsula and then there are the outlier dogs who come from South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Scarborough and beyond to visit. Of course, there are those dogs “from away” who are here on vacation and want to see the sights.

Portland’s a dog hub for good reason.

There is a bounty of places to take your canine friend for a peaceful stroll, picnic or an opportunity to roll around in things humans would rather not smell. Start your morning off watching the sun rise over the Eastern Promenade and end it with a view of the setting sun over the Western Promenade. Other options: Hit the beach, explore the woods or rub elbows and paws with friends at two great dog parks.

Here are seven of our favorite dog friendly spots in the city.


East End Beach

Vicky, an English setter, lounges in the sand at the East End Beach in Portland. Photo by Vicky’s owner, Scott Dolan/Press Herald Staff Writer

EAST END BEACH

It’s Portland’s only public beach, and dogs love it. It’s rare to go by East End Beach and not see dogs frolicking. Once at the beach, you and your four-legged friend might decide to walk to Commercial Street for an Old Port exploration or take a stroll in the other direction, toward Falmouth. Be on the lookout for runners, bicyclists and rollerbladers, and enjoy the gorgeous views.

WHERE: Bottom of the Eastern Promenade

WHEN: Dawn through dusk

RULES: Dogs can be off-leash from the day after Labor Day to the day before Memorial Day only.

PARKING: Free parking on Cutter Street and on-street parking on Eastern Promenade MORE INFO: easternpromenade.org


Eastern Promenade

Odie loving life on Portland’s Eastern Promenade. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

EASTERN PROMENADE

The Eastern Promenade is a 68-acre public park and recreation area, including a 2.1-mile trail along the waterfront. Find a shady spot beneath a tree for a picnic. No matter where you are on the prom, you’ll have a fantastic view of Casco Bay and its islands and sailboats. Early risers, this is a heavenly spot to catch the sunrise.

WHERE: Eastern Promenade, Munjoy Hill WHEN: Dawn through dusk

RULES: There are off-leash areas next to Fort Allen Park and East End Beach. Off-season hours (between Labor Day and the day before Memorial Day) are early morning until 10 p.m.

PARKING: On-street and small parking lot as you head toward East End Beach

MORE INFO: easternpromenade.org


Quarry Run Dog Park

Stella the Boston Terrier at Quarry Run Dog Park in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

QUARRY RUN DOG PARK

Quarry Run Dog Park is a hidden treasure in Portland, and it might become your dog’s favorite spot after one visit. At this 10-acre, fully contained, woodsy area, your dog can run free. The terrain features dirt trails, grassy areas and all sorts of nooks and crannies to explore. There’s even a teepee for your dog to check out and a structure for you to stand under in bad weather.

WHERE: 1026 Ocean Ave. WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

RULES: Dogs can be off leash but owners must carry one with them at all times. There is also a separate area for smaller dogs to play.

PARKING: Free, parking lot

MORE INFO: dogpark.com/quarry-run-dog-park


BAXTER WOODS

You and your dog can commune with nature as the birds chirp, the pine trees stand tall and the outside world is temporarily shut out. Baxter Woods is a 30-acre nature preserve with plenty of shaded trails to roam on. Keep an eye out for bicyclists, walkers, joggers and other dog owners. Information kiosks are at the Stevens Avenue and Forest Avenue entrances.

WHERE: Bounded by Hartley Street, Stevens Avenue and Forest Avenue

WHEN: Dawn to dusk

RULES: Dogs are allowed off-leash provided they are under voice command and remain within 50 feet of their owner.

PARKING: Limited on-street parking on Hartley Street, Stevens Street and Forest Avenue

MORE INFO: Do a trail search for “Baxter” at mainetrailfinder.com


Western Promenade

Odie at Portland’s Western Promenade. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

WESTERN PROMENADE

From this 18-acre park in the West End, you can see New Hampshire’s Presidential mountain range and catch a gorgeous sunset. The Western Prom’s views aren’t as riveting as the ones on the Eastern Prom, but you and your dog can dream about moving into the impressive homes that line the path.

WHERE: Bordered by Western Promenade, Valley Street and Maine Medical Center

WHEN: Dawn to dusk

RULES: Dogs must be leashed (25 feet maximum)

PARKING: On-street along the prom


Fore River Sanctuary

Ducky pauses on one of the many foot bridges at the Fore River Sanctuary in Portland. Photo by Ducky’s owner, Scott Dolan, Press Herald Staff Writer

FORE RIVER SANCTUARY

The Fore River Sanctuary is an 85-acre preserve where your dog can splash around in Jewell Falls. Dogs are allowed off-leash in certain areas only. Keep an eye out for signs. Another reason to be watchful: The sanctuary is a popular spot for mountain biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and birding, so you never know what’s around the next bend.

WHERE: South entrance at Maine Orthopedics building at 1601 Congress St., at the corner of Frost Street. For North entrance, take Brighton Avenue to Rowe or Hillcrest avenues and park at the end of either street. For East entrance, enter via Starbird Lane but note there isn’t parking available there.

WHEN: Dawn to dusk RULES: Dogs are allowed off-leash provided they are under voice command PARKING: Parking lot available at far corner (at Congress and Frost streets) of the orthopedics building lot. Also on-street on Rowe and Hillcrest avenues.

INFO: trails.org


Valley Street Dog Park

Odie at the Valley Street Dog Park in Portland. Photo by Tracy Burke

VALLEY STREET DOG PARK

You’ll find benches, water, shady spots and wide open swaths of dirt for your dog to sniff and inspect. The Valley Street Dog Park is almost 3 acres, bigger than it looks from the street, and parts of it are on the bottom slope of a hill. Not only is there water available for dogs but also a tub in case your pooch has a little too much fun rolling around in the dirt on a hot summer’s day. This park has an “industrial chic” feel to it, meaning it’s not particularly pretty and faces the back side of St. John Street businesses. But it’s on the peninsula and easy to get to.

WHERE: 140 Valley St. WHEN: Dawn to dusk

RULES: Off-leash

PARKING: There are about a half dozen spots in the park’s lot and free on-street parking.

MORE INFO: Search for Valley Street Dog Park on Facebook.


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