Explorations in Maine

 

Ranked second in New England for bike-friendliness by the League of American Bicyclists, Maine has a positive cycling climate bolstered by strong advocacy.

Whether you travel everywhere with your bike or want to feel the free-wheeling life for a day, Greater Portland’s got you covered. The League of American Bicyclists lauded Maine for having an active bicycle advocacy organization, running a successful "Share the Road” campaign, emphasizing bicycle safety in highway planning, and having a "safe passing” law. Besides which, the temperate climate in Maine allows for comfortable cycling throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has a vast set of resources for cyclists on its website, bikemaine.org, and the Maine Department of Labor’s site, exploremaine.org, contains numerous bike tour options by region. The 35-mile Casco Bay portion of the East Coast Greenway route takes cyclists from Portland’s historic waterfront to the nearby towns of Falmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick. Among other attractions, the coastline route offers gorgeous views of Maine’s rocky coast, an Audubon sanctuary, seaside camps, and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. What better way to explore Casco Bay than with a knowledgeable guide? Summer Feet Cycling offers several half day guided trips in Portland such as the "5-Lighthouse Tour” and the "Bikes & Brews Tour” (to sample some of Portland’s best craft beer). In the Kennebunk’s, the Beaches, Boats, and Buoys Tour shows you the famous beaches as well as some of the locals’ favorite spots. Enjoy stunning ocean views, see historic captains’ homes and the Bush family summer house, and discover the beauty of Maine’s South Coast region.

Independent explorers can outfit themselves at Gorham Bike and Ski, open 7 days a week in Portland. Just tell them where you want to ride and they’ll find the right equipment for you. Fat bikes with huge tires let you cruise the beach at sunset. Mountain bikes are perfect for trail systems, road bikes for in-town bike lanes. The bicycling page on portlandmaine.com lists bike rack locations in downtown Portland. For a completely car free trip, arrive via Concord Coach Bus or Amtrak Downeaster train with your bicycles safely stowed away.

MAINE'S COAST, MOUNTAINS, AND TRAILS

Whether on water or land, visit some of Greater Portland's top spots to enjoy the outdoors!

KAYAK

Take off from Peak's Island, Portland's East End Beach, or Willard Beach in South Portland for an afternoon or full day exploring the nooks and crannies of Casco Bay and the nearby Calendar Islands. Stop at Fort Gorges, the hexagonal structure on Hog Island completed in 1865, just as the Civil War was ending.

Explore the 3,100-acre estuary known as Scarborough Marsh, _an important resting, breeding and feeding grounds for birds and animals. Put in at the Maine Audubon Center on Rt 9 in Scarborough and stop by their Discovery Room on the way out. Be careful of the tides which make it more difficult to paddle in a certain direction, depending on which way the tide is flowing.

Paddlers can enjoy a beautiful stretch of the Presumpscot River between Saccarappa Falls and the Cumberland Mills Historic District in Westbrook. The calm water of the Presumpscot makes it an ideal location for all skill levels. You can also put in at Lincoln Street and enjoy 5 miles of splendid scenery between Westbrook and Windham.

HIKE

An easy 1.5 mile trail offering excellent views of Casco Bay circles 100-acre Mackworth Island, connected to Falmouth by a causeway at the mouth of the Presumpscot River. Generally level with no major barriers to wheelchairs on the main loop. Small side trails follow steep slopes to the shore. Points of interest include a children's fairy village and a pet cemetary built for Governor Percival Baxter who founded a school for the deaf on the island.

Popular for walking and running, the 3.6 mile Back Cove Trail offers great views of Portland's skyline from a paved path nestled along the water. The loop trail is mostly flat, with a slight rise along the stretch that parallels I-295. _Connects to the Bayside and Eastern Promenade Trails under Tukey’s Bridge.

Just six miles from downtown Freeport, Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal provides 21 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to advanced . Although only 485 feet high, the summit offers sweeping views towards Casco Bay and stunning fall foliage. Reward your exertions with a good meal in Freeport.

 
Mary Chancy