Fore River Sanctuary and Jewell Falls
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:300 Rowe Avenue, Portland ME
Hours:Dawn to dusk
Fee: Free
Contact:
Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None
Map:

USGS Portland South quad; trails.org/our-trails/fore-river-sanctuary


Within Portland city limits, this 85-acre nature sanctuary boasts a well-maintained trail network, varied wildlife habitat and Portland’s only natural waterfall, the oasis-like Jewell Falls.

Bridges are always a hit with kids! Fortunately, there are many of them to cross along the trails of Fore River Sanctuary.

Portlanders introduced to Fore River Sanctuary’s Jewell Falls for the first time do a double take. Yes: it’s been in your backyard this whole time! While it isn’t the largest, most impressive falls in the state, its oasis-like quality makes it the perfect destination when you want a dose of nature without going far from downtown Portland.

From the well-marked trailhead on Rowe Avenue, take the 0.5-mile Jewell Falls Trail, which begins on a slight ridge that runs parallel to train tracks. This narrow, exposed part of the trail cuts through grassland that is a popular habitat for butterflies and common garter snakes. Remember, there are no venomous snakes in Maine, so feel free to stop and say hello. If you find a snake, move slowly, watch it carefully, and appreciate the ways it benefits humans by preying on bugs, grubs, rodents, and other pests. Most likely, the snake will quickly slither from the trail once it senses your presence: it’s more afraid of you than you could possibly be of it!

At the trail junction in just over 0.1 mile, bear left as the trail dips into the open and beautiful forest, full of maples, evergreens, and ferns. From here, good signage and a wide path over gentle terrain lead all the way to the falls. Kids will light up when they see multiple streams of water cascading down the rocky steps. During springtime or after heavy rains, the water flows more mightily than it does at other times of year; however, the water flows yearround, making this a lovely destination no matter the month.

Get up-close-and-personal with the falls by splashing around in the pools below, or comfortably view it from afar. A stone bench set back from the water pays homage to Tom Jewell, who co-founded Portland Trails and donated this tract of land. To check out Jewell Falls from above, head up the stone staircase that runs parallel to the falls and leads to a wooden bridge spanning the width of the cascade. The trail beyond the bridge continues toward another trailhead at Hillcrest Avenue.

Plan B:

The entire Fore River Sanctuary is open to mountain bikers, on-leash dogs are allowed in some areas, and four separate entrances lead into the Sanctuary from different directions. Though Jewell Falls is a must-see destination, another favorite is the marshland where the river and ocean meet. Kids will love the varied trail, which includes multiple bridges and long boardwalks over towering cattails. During fall, breezes send their fluffy seed heads adrift.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Being so close to downtown Portland, there are myriad options of things to do nearby. Popular with kids are the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine and the Portland Public Library, which has an excellent children’s section with play area.



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