Back Cove and Eastern Promenade Trails
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:Preble Street Portland
Hours:Dawn to dusk
Fee: Free

Portland Trails, 207-775-2411,

Bathrooms: Portable toilets at Edward Payson Park; restrooms at East End Beach
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Portland West and Portland East quads;

This off-road, family-friendly trail is perfect for biking, offering great views of Portland’s skyline and idyllic waterfront.

Good signage along the trail facilities safe, easy riding.

The two trails described here, when combined, make for an excellent bike route that even beginners will enjoy. With plenty of rest stops along the way, picturesque views, and kid-friendly attractions (Did someone say sandy beach? Dog park? Playground? Train museum?), it’s no wonder these wide, flat trails are Portland’s most popular havens for bikers, joggers, and dog-walkers. Be prepared to share the trail.

From the Back Cove parking lot, head west on the path at the north end of the lot. It quickly merges onto Baxter Boulevard Path, which has trail markers every 0.25 mile and occasional benches. Looking back over the bay, which drains at low tide, enjoy wide-spanning vistas of the Portland skyline as you make your way around Back Cove. At approximately 2.0 miles, the path reaches Edward Payson Park on your left, an excellent pit stop if you’re looking for bathrooms or a break from pedaling. The park includes a playground, tennis courts, playing fields, and even a wintertime terrain park.

Back on the bike, continue pedaling around the north end of Back Cove to Tukey’s Bridge, which connects the Portland peninsula to East Deering across the cove. Here, stay on the bike path, proceeding slowly under the bridge. This is the trickiest part of the ride, as the trail is narrow, curved, and congested with other bikers and pedestrians. Fortunately, it’s a short stretch. Within a few hundred feet the path merges onto well-marked 2.1-mile Eastern Promenade  Trail (known locally as the East End Trail) to continue to Portland’s Old Port. The trail is paved and scenic, skirting the perimeter of Casco Bay while offering stunning ocean vistas. Consider stopping to get your feet wet at the small and sandy East End Beach, Portland’s only public beach. (Public restrooms and changing areas are available at the nearby boat launch.) Offshore, you’ll see sailboats bobbing on their moorings and islands that beckon, including Peaks Island (Trip 5), Great Diamond Island, and Long Island. Near the terminus of the trail, notice the defunct rail cars and the restored passenger trail of the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum, which offers 40-minute train rides along the Eastern Promenade Trail from May through October (

The Eastern Promenade Trail ends at the eastern edge of Portland’s Old Port (3.75 miles), at the corner of Commercial and India streets. If you have the time and inclination, consider exploring the Old Port restaurants and shops before turning around and retracing the path to Tukey’s Bridge. Once under the bridge, merge with Back Cove Trail and pedal along the western edge of Back Cove until returning to the parking lot where you began.

Plan B:

For a shorter option, consider completing just one of the two sections of trail. Back Cove Trail, by itself, is a 3.5-mile loop. The Eastern Prom Trail is 2.1 miles, one-way; reach its trailhead near the eastern end of Portland’s Old Port, adjacent to the Ocean Gateway Terminal. Street parking is available on Commercial Street.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Portland’s Old Port is a favorite neighborhood with locals and tourists alike. Lobster shacks, restaurants, cafés, ice cream shops, and more can all be found within the waterfront neighborhood.



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