Hiking near Portland, Maine: Our 8 Favorite Trails

Looking for great hiking close to Maine’s biggest city? Lace up your hiking boots and use this guide to find the top trails near Portland and see what the area has to offer.

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Within an hour’s drive of Portland in Maine, you can climb high mountain summits, explore spacious beaches, or watch the sunrise over the ocean. Your escape from the hustle and bustle of city life is waiting. 

In this guide, we share eight of the best and closest trails, from accessible walks for the whole family to steep summit rock scrambles. Find your next outdoor adventure below! 

1. Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail

Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail
Picturesque from start to finish.
  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,404 feet

Only an hour’s drive from Portland, the Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail is one of the area’s best hikes. 

Find the trailhead off Route 160, past the Burnt Meadow Pond public boat launch (a great place to cool off after your hike.) Follow the blue trail blazes up the North Peak. After the trail leaves a peaceful forest, there are a few steep and scrambly sections as you ascend.

From the summit, revel in stunning views of the jagged White Mountain Range and the Northeast’s highest point, Mount Washington. For some added mileage and to get away from the crowds, take the 1.4-mile out-and-back trail to Stone Mountain, a 1,664-foot peak that offers more great views to the southeast and west.

The Burnt Meadow Mountain Trail is picturesque from start to finish. Even the return hike offers new views. Follow the yellow trail (Twin Brook Trail) along a babbling mountain stream to get back to your car.

2. Back Cove Trail

Back Cove Trail, Maine
One of the oldest trails near Portland.
  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 3.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 26 feet

Located just five minutes from downtown Portland, Back Cove Trail is accessible to everyone. The gravel, multi-use trail is flat the whole way and still gives you the feeling of being in nature. Use the parking area on Preble Street at the trail’s south end. Here you will also find designated accessible parking spots.

The Back Cove Trail, one of the oldest in Portland, is ideal for walking, running, mountain biking, and dog walking (four-legged friends must be on a leash). Enjoy remarkable views of the Portland skyline, cove, and harbor from the trail. If you’re up for an early start, the trail is the perfect place to catch the sunrise.

Back Cove Trail connects to the Bayside Trail and the Eastern Promenade Trail (see below) near Turkey Bridge if you wish to continue your walk.

3. Eastern Promenade Trail

Eastern Promenade Trail, Portland, Maine
Get away from the city without leaving the city.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Length: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 95 feet

Eastern Promenade Trail provides an escape from the city without leaving the city. This urban waterfront trail follows an old rail corridor and allows visitors to admire the ocean and harbor. There are benches and picnic tables along the path to take in the beauty or have an oceanside picnic. 

There are a few places to start, including at the dead end of Commercial Street, from the East End Beach Trailhead, or a Back Cove connector trail. You can even use public transit, Metro Bus Routes 1 and 8, to get to the trailheads.

You can turn this out and back into a 2.7-mile loop via unpaved and steep connector trails at either end of the out-and-back. At the east end, the connector trail is a series of wide, granite stairs leading to a fantastic vista of Casco Bay. This loop is a good option for many hikers, but it might not be accessible to everyone.

4. Harraseeket and White Pines Loop, Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park

Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Maine
So much to see in one short hike.
  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 2.0 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 173 feet

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is a quick 30-minute drive from Portland and is home to some of the best hiking in the area. The Harraseeket and White Pines Loop Trail is short but jam-packed with breathtaking sights.

Take Flying Point Road out of downtown Freeport, ME, and follow signs for the state park. Then turn right on Wolfe’s Neck Road and drive a mile and a half to the entrance on the left. Use the main parking lot to access the trailhead.

The trail takes hikers through hemlock and white pine forests, across the Harraseeket River, past a salt marsh, and along the dramatic rocky coastline of Casco Bay. At the end of the White Pines Portion of the loop, look for an osprey nest 200 yards off the coast on Googins Island. You might also see seals playing in the bay if you’re lucky.

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park charges an entrance fee of $4 for Maine residents and $6 for out-of-state visitors.

5. Summit Trail, Bradbury Mountain State Park

Bradbury Mountain, Bradbury Mountain State Park, Maine
Short and sweet steep! (Photo by Paul VanDerWerf / CC BY 2.0)
  • Type: Out and back
  • Length: 0.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 196 feet

If you’re looking for a quick hike and a workout, try the Summit Trail at Bradbury Mountain State Park. Although only 0.5 miles long, the trail is consistently steep, complete with rock staircases and nearly 200 feet of elevation gain.

The best part is that the state park is only 25 minutes from downtown Portland. Find the park entrance and trailhead 1/2 mile up Route 9 on your left. There are over 20 miles of trails within the park if you need a warm-up before tackling the Summit Trail, a well-maintained but rocky climb. 

Your heart rate will be up when you reach the summit, but the gorgeous views are worth it. From the top, you can see miles of Maine wilderness to the west and the sprawling Atlantic Ocean to the east.

For an easier time of things on the way down, hop on to the 1.4-mile Northern Loop Trail, which takes you around the other side of the mountain before arriving back at the parking lot. 

 

6. Southwest Ridge Trail, Pleasant Mountain

Southwest Ridge Trail, Pleasant Mountain, Maine
Popular for running, snowshoeing, and open year-round.
  • Type: Out and back
  • Length: 5.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 1,984 feet

Southwest Ridge Trail in southwestern Maine is a little further from Portland, but both the drive and the hike are absolutely beautiful. The trailhead has its parking lot off Denmark Road. Trailhead parking is limited and fills up fast, especially on weekends, so start early and have a backup plan in case the lot is full when you arrive.

If you get a spot, you’re in for a treat. The hike up Pleasant Mountain is challenging at times and very rewarding. Follow the yellow blazes and the rock cairns through a classic Maine pine forest. The first two miles involve consistent climbing on a rocky, root-filled path.

Luckily, the trail flattens out after that and provides scenic overlooks of the surrounding forest. There are a few more short uphill sections, but once you’re at the top, you’ll forget all about the climb. Summit views are some of the best near Portland, ME. You can see Brownfield, Conway, and as far as the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

You can descend the way you came or use one of the other trails to hike out. Make sure you have a vehicle waiting (or a ride) if you plan to hike out on a different trail.

7. Mackworth Island State Park Trail

Mackworth Island State Park Trail, Maine
A beautiful, family-friendly hike.
  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 1.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 45 feet

Walk around the perimeter of an island on the Mackworth Island State Park Trail. Originally the site of the James Baxter summer cottage, the island has since been turned into a bird sanctuary. Use Andrews Avenue to drive to the island, only 10 minutes from Portland’s city center.

The perimeter trail is level, wide, and accessible to all hikers and skill levels. Everyone and anyone can enjoy the rich natural beauty of the island. A mixed-growth forest provides cover for many different bird species, including warblers, wild turkeys, grouse, and thrushes. 

You can also discover rare Columbia Watermeal, a tiny flowering plant that only grows in a few areas. Along the way, hikers get unique views of Casco Bay and its many islands. For history buffs, the trail goes by a Civil War-era pier and the burial place of Percival Baxter and his fourteen Irish Setters.

Both Maine residents and non-Maine residents must pay an entrance fee.

8. Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach

Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach, Maine
Explore one of Maine’s best beaches. (Photo by Alison Chaiken / CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Type: Out and back
  • Length: 4.0 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 492 feet

One of Maine’s best beaches is only an hour’s drive from the Portland area, and the Morse Mountain to Seawall Beach Trail makes getting there easy. From Route 216, take Morse Mountain Road, two miles to the conservation area. March through November, a gatekeeper will greet you and direct you to a parking spot.

The trail is paved in some spots and dirt and gravel in others. Follow the well-maintained trail through towering pine trees and quiet estuaries to two sprawling miles of pristine beach. You could easily spend a day admiring the rolling waves.

Near the end of the hike, the trail forks. Take the left fork to get to the expansive Seawall Beach. The right fork takes hikers up to a spectacular ocean overlook. Take both to experience the grandeur of the area thoroughly.

 

Other Worthwhile Hikes Near Portland, Maine 

A few other good Portland-area hikers didn’t quite make our list but are well worth visiting once you’ve ticked off our featured 8:

  • Douglas Mountain
  • White Trail, Fore River Sanctuary
  • Presumpscot River Trail 

Happy Hiking!

Who knew that the hiking near Portland, Maine was so incredible? From beachside strolls to mountain summits, there is something for everyone within an hour of the big city.

We hope our guide inspires you to discover the area and get away from the hustle of city life.

Which are your favorite hikes in the Portland area? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this with your hiking partners.

Last update on 2024-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Megan Large Avatar

Megan hails from southwest Colorado, where she grew up hiking and camping. Since then, she has been on the road, working as an outdoor guide. She's guided hiking trips in British Columbia, whitewater in Washington and Idaho, and taught skiing across Colorado.

Megan has spent over 100 days camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and is currently bagging Colorado's 14ers with her Border Collie, Alli. When she's not getting lost on the trail, you can find Megan wherever there's WIFI sharing her outdoor experience so that others may learn from her mistakes.

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