This summer, make exercising your dog less of a chore and more of an adventure, with destinations that will get you both jazzed about walking. Here are four of our Portland-area favorites, guaranteed to get tails wagging.
- Mackworth Island Trail, Falmouth
Ideal for walkers who prefer level ground, this trail traces the island perimeter, offering nearly constant views of gorgeous Casco Bay. The 1.25-mile loop makes it easy to add laps if you’re so inspired. There are several spots where you can dip down to the shore and let your pup cool off. Dogs must be on-leash (the island is a bird sanctuary). Parking is limited and the State Bureau of Parks and Lands charges a small fee. Details and directions.
- Pine Point Beach, Scarborough
Make the most of the dog days of summer by walking sandy Pine Point Beach. From mid-May through Labor Day, dogs are welcome off-leash on the southern end of the beach under voice control from sunrise to 9 a.m. – perfect for early risers. Prefer evening? Portions of the beach are open to dogs on-leash from 5 p.m. to sunset. Morning or evening, avoid posted areas where access is restricted to protect shorebirds. Check the latest regulations at the town web site. Type “Chapter 604” in the search bar to download key info.
- Stroudwater Trail, Portland
Escape from the hot sun into a shady tunnel of green on the Stroudwater Trail, part of the Portland Trails network. The 3.3-mile trail follows the Stroudwater River west – all the way to Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook. If that’s too ambitious, simply turn around wherever you like. The single-track trail is well-shaded for the entire route, and mostly level until you cross under the Turnpike, with bridges and boardwalks to cross wet areas. Park just off outer Congress Street off River’s Edge Drive in Portland.
- Twin Brook, Cumberland
A gem for dogs and owners alike, this scenic 250+-acre park is divided into two sections with opposite off-leash hours, so there’s always an option for well-behaved dogs to romp at will (Tuttle is off-leash from opening to noon; Greely from noon to close). There’s plenty of parking at either the Greely or Tuttle Road entrance, and both give easy access to 4-plus miles of trails through rolling fields and woods. Details and directions.
Whatever destination you choose, bring bags to clean up after your dog, obey posted rules for leashing, parking, and so on. Bring water along for your pet (and you) to re-hydrate. Let us know your favorite, and happy trails!