Welcome to Portland Trails! All trails that have a Portland Trails sign are free for you to enjoy, and they are open every day of the year. The trails are here for you and your family to use for transportation, exercise, and recreation. They are spaces where you can relax, connect with nature, and find peace. They are paths that connect you to destinations and neighborhoods throughout Greater Portland. They are your trails!
Read on to see our trail tips and frequently asked questions. Click here to see our trail map and learn more about specific trails. If you have a question, please send us an email at email@example.com!
Here are a few guidelines to keep yourself, other trail users, and wildlife safe:
- Stay on the marked trails. Trails are usually marked with Portland Trails signs, but some trails also have colored paint dashes on trees. These are known as blazes, and they are there to help keep you on the trail. Please stay on the marked trails. There’s a reason a trail exists where it does! When you (and your dog!) stay on a trail, you are protecting the sensitive environment that surrounds you.
- Follow all posted warnings, signs, and other instructions. These signs are here for your safety, the safety of your fellow trail users, and the safety of the plants and animals who live near the trail.
- Do not use trails if they are muddy. In the spring, trails are thawing from the winter and are very fragile. Some areas may be very wet or muddy. If you find yourself on a very muddy trail, please turn around and visit a less wet trail instead. If you do encounter a small muddy spot, please walk through the mud rather than going around it. Walking around wet or muddy spots widens trails and can harm the surrounding environment.
- Leave no trace. Please leave with everything you brought with you (including all your trash AND dog waste!) and leave nature as you found it. Most trails do not have trash cans.
- Do not start a fire on any of our trails. Please properly dispose of or refrain from using any lighters, cigarettes, or other smoking devices while on the trails as they can lead to forest fires.
- Keep wildlife wild. Please do not feed animals or remove plants you’re not authorized to. This keeps the trails a safe place for native plants and animals to thrive. It also keeps animals far away from trail users!
Sharing the trails
All the trails in the Portland Trails network are used by people of various ages and abilities, as well as people using different modes of transportation. The trails are as much for other trail users as they are for you. Whether you’re walking, running, biking, or rolling, please make space for every trail user you encounter!
Here are a few guidelines to make sure the trails are safe and fun for every trail user:
- If you're biking, use caution when passing slower moving trail users. Slow down as you approach someone walking, using a wheelchair, pushing a stroller, or using another slower form of transportation. Use a bell or verbally announce yourself, and pass slowly and at a safe distance.
- Make sure others can see you. We strongly encourage everyone, especially cyclists, to wear reflective gear and appropriate lights when you’re traveling in the dark or in low light.
- In the winter, avoid stepping on cross-country ski tracks. This keeps the tracks in good condition for future skiers to use.
Responsible dog ownership
You love your dog, but some trail users do not feel safe around dogs they don’t know. In addition to making people uncomfortable, dogs (particularly when they’re off-leash!) can also be dangerous to people on bikes.
Here are a few important guidelines to follow when you bring your dog on a trail:
- Do not assume others are comfortable around dogs. Even if you know your dog is friendly, don’t assume that others will be okay being approached by your dog.
- Keep your dog under your control 100% of the time. If your dog is not fully under voice control, use a leash. Please abide by any signage that requires leashing. Please refer to the City of Portland’s leashing requirements here.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Be on the lookout for other trail users, dogs, and wildlife.
- Keep other trail users safe and comfortable. This means that when you see others coming, you should…
- Yield to other trail users
- Step to the side, leash your dog, and have them sit off the trail
- Communicate with other trail users to let them know you’ve got your dog under control
- Keep your dog out of “sniffing range” of other trail users
- Only walk as many dogs at once as you can keep under your control at all times. For the comfort and safety of all our trail users, we discourage one person walking a group of dogs on a trail.
- Take your dog’s waste with you. Dog waste often ends up polluting local waterways. Please scoop it up and dispose of it at home or in a public trash can. Don’t leave bagged waste on the trails!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question, there’s a good chance someone else has asked! Read through our frequently asked questions below, organized by topic.
Who can use the trails?
Everyone! The trails are spaces for everyone in our community to use and enjoy – for free.
What hours are the trails open?
Some city parks or other locations are “closed” from dusk to dawn. Generally, trails are “open” unless otherwise posted. Most trails are not lit at night, and trails in the woods will get darker faster than surrounding areas. Trail users should make their own determination about their comfort using trails at different times or in varying conditions.
Do I have to pay to use the trails?
Nope! The trails are – and always will be – free to use. (However, we’re only able to maintain the trail network with donations from our community. You can donate to Portland Trails here!)
Is Portland Trails part of the City of Portland?
No, Portland Trails is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is not part of the City of Portland or the Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department. We work collaboratively with the City on trail projects each year, but we are a separate organization.
Where can I access a trail map?
You can access our free digital trail map here. If you would like to purchase a paper map, you can stop by our office (305 Commercial Street, Portland). If you become a Portland Trails member, you’ll receive a trail map for free!
What can I do to keep myself safe on the trails?
Here’s a list of things to keep in mind when you’re walking or biking on a trail:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t use earbuds.
- Tell someone where you’re going.
- Bring your phone.
- Look up trail information ahead of time and refer to Portland Trails’ digital map if you need help with directions.
- Bring water.
- Check the weather before you go and dress for the conditions.
- In warmer months, wear bug spray to repel ticks.
- If you’re nervous about exploring a new trail alone, bring a friend or family member!
Which trails are dog-friendly?
Dogs are allowed on all Portland Trails and in all city parks. However, please do not bring your dog on a school trail during school hours. Dogs are never allowed on any playfields, school yards, playgrounds, or cemeteries.
What are the rules about leashing my dog?
Leashing is required on the following city-owned trails and parks:
- Baxter Pines
- Baxter Woods (required at certain times of the day and certain months of the year)
- Bayside Park
- Deering Oaks
- Dougherty Field
- Eastern Promenade
- Evergreen Cemetery (dogs allowed on roads and trails only, not on gravesites)
- Longfellow Park
- Quaker Park
- Stroudwater Park
- Western Promenade
You can see full information about the City’s leashing policies here. When you’re on any other trails in the Portland Trails network, you must either keep your dog 100% under your voice control OR leash them. This keeps other trail users safe and comfortable. See full list of guidelines at the top of this page.
Where is my dog NOT allowed?
Except for service animals, dogs are never allowed on playfields, school grounds, or playgrounds. There are also restrictions about dogs in cemeteries. Please refer to the City of Portland’s leasing information here for full information.
Which trails are wheelchair-friendly?
This is tricky to answer; what is a good fit for one person in a wheelchair might not be the right trail for someone else in a wheelchair. However, we do have three paved trails in our trail network: Eastern Promenade Trail, Bayside Trail, and Fore River Parkway Trail. We also have some wide, well-surfaced trails, including: Back Cove Trail, Capisic Brook Trail, PATHS Trail, and a loop in Canco Woods. Adding more accessible trails is a high priority for Portland Trails! We have projects in the works, so stay tuned.
How do I know if a trail is the right choice for me?
You can read more information about the trails in our network on our individual trail pages. These will help you get a general idea of what to expect. As of early 2023, we are working on updating and improving these trail pages to give you as much accessibility information as possible to help you choose the trails you’ll enjoy the most. In the meantime, if you have questions, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Are any trails plowed in the winter?
Yes, a few. The City of Portland plows the Eastern Prom Trail, the Bayside Trail, and the Fore River Parkway Trail. (Did it snow but the trail isn’t plowed? Let the City know by filling out a request in SeeClickFix.)
Are any trails illuminated at night?
Do any trails have bathrooms?
Which trails are bike-friendly?
Every trail in the Portland Trails network is designed to be multi-modal, meaning bikes are welcome. However, certain trails are better for different types of biking. Check out our individual trail pages to find the trails that will be a good fit for you, whether you’re mountain biking with friends or commuting to work. Please be respectful of other trail users who are moving slower than you!
Is there bike parking available at the trailheads?
Several of the trails in our network have bike racks available on or near the trails, including: Baxter Woods, Evergreen Cemetery, Eastern Prom Trail, Western Prom, Bayside Trail, and Back Cove Trail. Most other trails should have a place to lock up a bike using a cable or chain lock, including lamp posts, kiosks, and other fixtures.
Can I ride my e-bike on the trails?
Portland Trails is permitting Class I and II e-bikes on our trails. Please ride with courtesy for other trail users, especially those moving slower than you. Class III e-bikes are not permitted on any Portland Trails trail.
Are there places where I can put in a boat?
Yes, there are a few! Check out our digital trail map to find boat launches on the trails. Please do not store your boats on the trails.
Can I feed the ducks?
No! Please don’t feed ducks or any wildlife. Human food is not good for animals. You can read more about the reasons why feeding wildlife is bad for the environment here.
Is hunting allowed on the trails?
The answer depends on which town you’re in:
- Portland and South Portland: hunting is NOT allowed
- Falmouth: hunting is NOT allowed near any of the trails
- Westbrook: bow-and-arrow hunting IS allowed. Use caution (pay attention to your surroundings and wear bright orange) on the Stroudwater Trail during deer hunting season.
Are there any dangerous animals I might cross paths with on the trails?
Almost all wild animals that live near the trails will keep their distance from people. If you do see a wild animal, give it space and do not startle it. If you need to contact animal control, call (207) 233-1151 during business hours or (207) 874-8575 outside of business hours.
There are no poisonous snakes in Maine, so any snake you see is not dangerous to you. The most dangerous wildlife on the trail are ticks, particularly deer ticks; these tiny insects can spread disease if they bite you. Here’s what different types of ticks look like, and here’s how to prevent a tick bite.
I’m driving to a trail. Is there a place for me to park my car?
All parking is limited, especially during high use areas and times. Many of the trails in our network have designated parking areas. These are marked on our paper and digital map with “P” icons. Please follow all street parking signage and respect the neighbors.
The trail's parking area is full. What should I do?
Walking, biking, and taking METRO to trails is a great way to avoid any parking trouble! If there isn’t room to park your car, please visit another trail.
Can I get to the trails using METRO?
Yes! And we encourage it. Every individual trail page has information about which METRO bus line is closest to the trailhead. Additionally, METRO bus data is integrated into Google Maps, and you can check on the status of your bus with the Southern Maine Transit Tracker or other transit apps.
Who do I contact if I see damage, offensive vandalism, or something that’s dangerous on the trail?
If you notice something very suspicious or dangerous, call the Portland Police at 911 or their non-emergency line (207) 874-8479. If you find a bridge that’s out, harmful graffiti, or some other damage to a trail, please call us at (207) 775-2411 or email email@example.com.
The bathrooms are dirty. Who do I contact?
You can fill out a SeeClickFix request here or contact the Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Department at (207) 808-5400.
How can I get more involved with Portland Trails?
There are lots of ways you can get involved!
- Become a member: This is the easiest and most effective way to support the trails.
- Volunteer with us: You can help us on the trails, at an event, or in our office. If you’re looking to be a long-term volunteer, consider becoming a trail steward!
- Join us for an event: You can check out our calendar for upcoming events.