Eastern Trail
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Black Point Road and Eastern Road, Scarborough
Hours:Sunrise to sunset
Fee: Free
Contact:

Eastern Trail Alliance, 207-284-9260, easterntrail.org
 

Bathrooms: Portable toilet on the trail
Water/Snacks: None
Map:

USGS Prouts Neck and Old Orchard Beach quads; easterntrail.org/index.php/trails-a-maps
 


Flat, off-road terrain through mixed forest and salt marsh makes this the perfect destination for wheels, whether you’re on bikes, in a wheelchair, or pushing a stroller.

Flat, off-road terrain through mixed forest and salt marsh makes this the perfect destination for wheels, whether you’re on bikes, in a wheelchair, or pushing a stroller.

The East Coast Greenway is a developing trail that will one day wind its way from northern Maine to Key West, Florida, linking all the major cities of the eastern seaboard on safe, traffic-free paths. Parts of that trail are already established, including Maine’s Eastern Trail, which currently spans a scenic 65-mile signed bike route from the Piscataqua River in Kittery northward to Casco Bay in South Portland. The Eastern Trail Alliance’s maps are geo-tagged with various points of interest, allowing users to plan where on their cycling trips they’ll pause to take in vistas or stop for a bite to eat. Though some of the trail is on paved road, off-road sections are plentiful and expanding annually. The most kid-friendly section of the trail is this 8.4-mile off-road stretch from Scarborough to Saco. While street crossings along the trail are well marked with crosswalks and ample signage, take extra caution: many cars and trucks speed along these backcountry roads and aren’t prepared to stop quickly for crossing bikers and pedestrians. Prior to setting off on the trail, warn your children about the road crossings and set expectations for crossing together as a group once adults have determined it is safe to do so.

A kiosk near the Scarborough trailhead provides information about the trail system, as well as tips for good trail etiquette. The wide trail is primarily composed of compacted, crushed gravel, which makes for pleasant, easy riding terrain. In the late 1800s, this surprisingly straight trail was a rail corridor for the Eastern Railroad that connected Maine with Boston. Since the rail line was removed at the end of World War II, this old corridor became overgrown and forgotten before it became a natural gas corridor and, more recently, a celebrated recreation trail.

The first mile of trail cuts through mixed forest before opening onto the 2,700-acre Scarborough Marsh (see Trip 1), Maine’s largest salt marsh and home to abundant bird species and other wildlife. A wide, modern bridge leads over the water and continues through the marsh before crossing Pine Point Road and ducking back into the woods.

The trail continues through mixed forest dotted with occasional benches along the way. At approximately 7.0 miles, the trail crosses over US 1 via the John Andrews Bridge. Soon thereafter, it turns sharply to the left (south) and leads through an I-195 underpass. Access to and from the underpass is relatively steep, and children may need to dismount and walk their bicycles through this short section. The trail straightens again before ending in Saco at Thornton Academy (8.4 miles), which is near the former Portland airport where Charles Lindbergh frequently landed. To return to the Scarborough trailhead off Eastern Road, turn around here.

Plan B:

Another popular segment of the Eastern Trail is the 5.7-mile section from Bug Light Park in Portland to Highland Avenue in South Portland (also known as the South Portland Greenbelt). This trail offers a more urban route, some of which is on asphalt.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Both Scarborough and Saco offer plenty of dining options. In Scarborough, look for markets and restaurants along US 1. In Saco, Main Street offers many dining options, as well as a historic walking tour.



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