Monday, August 3, 2015

Quick Guide to Old Orchard Beach/Saco area trails for vacationers

We might already be halfway through the summer but I thought I'd highlight some of the great trails in our area since the Camp Ellis/Old Orchard Beach areas are such popular vacation destinations and I see lots of pups vacationing with their humans these days!

This is not comprehensive but includes a couple of the places we're most familiar with within a 10 minutes or so drive of many of the RV parks and oceanside hotels for easy access/a quick walk with the pup.  To my knowledge, these all require a leash unless noted otherwise (although some I may just have it in my head that way for safety reasons due to their location) and I have not observed a trash receptacle at any of them except for Bayview Beach.

Cascade Falls Park, Saco

Cascade Park is an easy walk from the parking lot down to the base of a charmingly out-of-place
waterfall.  There are trails that loop through the woods but many can be impassable in high water.  In winter, it is a playground, as all the streams are frozen.  My understanding is that eventually, the trails here will be linked to the nearby Eastern Trail.  The trails are generally flat except for the broad steps down to the water.  The dogs love the water and abundance of smells.  Bring your bug spray though!

Parking: Lot parking with plenty of spaces

Directions: Rt 98, minutes from Route 1 and Old Orchard Beach.  Watch for the parking lot behind a thin row of trees; it's easy to miss!


The Atlantic Way, Saco

I believe this one lies on Audubon land.  The Atlantic Trail is all I have ever done, takes about 20 minutes in each direction (2 mph) but there are other options we have yet to explore.  We always begin at the small pullover on Seaside Ave (Rt 9).  It's a flat, straight trail that begins with marshland on both sides then enters the forest.  It comes out on XX Rd.  The woods are pretty buggy but full of entertainment for the dogs

Parking: Multiple entrances.  We use the small pull off on Rt 9

Directions: From Main St in Saco heading north, take a right onto Beach Road.  Follow it for two miles and take a left onto Bayview Rd (at the fire station).  Bayview Rd ends at about .75 mile.  Take a left onto Rt 9/Seaside Ave and the trailhead is appx .25 miles down the road on the left.


Guild Park, Ocean Park

I always stop here if the beach is too busy to let the dogs chase the seagulls because it's a quick
detour instead of heading home un-exercised or driving in the completely opposite direction to somewhere else.  I have to be honest, not once have I used the map.  I've taken photos of it but mostly just wander.  It's an easy parcel to navigate and would probably be even easier if I read the map (then the blazes on the trees wouldn't look like hieroglyphs!)  On our last visit, there were a couple of spots where we extended our usual 15 minute meander and had to cross some less-than-upkept crossings over muck and one very nice bridge.  I perused the signage and did not see anything regarding leashes; however, the property is wedged between railroad tracks, roads, and private homes so keep off leashed ones close.  The forest is full of pines and the ground littered with pine needles, keeping most ferns and small plants from growing.  It reminds me a lot of UNH's College Woods but much smaller. The trails are flat with only occasional rootes (I walked this barefoot after a flip flop malfunction) and there are one or two places for dogs to dip their toes on hot days.

Parking: The pull off on Temple Ave (in front of the park sign) is where I always park.

Directions: From Rt 9 South, right onto Temple Ave.  If you go over railroad tracks, you've gone too far.


Bayview Beach, Saco

A dog friendly beach at the very tip of Bayview Road in Saco.  Dogs must be leashed in the summer between the hours of 9:00 and 5:00.  My favorite thing to do is wait til it gets really quiet or in the off season and let the dogs loose to chase the seagulls (don't worry, they're far away and the plovers have moved on!!).  At low tide, it's an excellent beach to walk end to end.  To the left, we tend to have the beach more to ourselves.  It ends where Goosefare Brook empties into the ocean, dividing the Saco beaches from Ocean Park's.  To the right, gunfire can sometimes be heard from the nearby shooting range and you will eventually hit Ferry Beach, which does not allow dogs.

Parking: Summer is a toughie.  There is a very small lot at the entrance that requires a permit (after hours we have never had an issue thankfully because I don't even know where to obtain one!).  A bigger lot is on both sides of the intersection with Seaside Ave and has a pay-to-park stand.  On a summer day, you will still have difficulty finding a spot but generally, the dog-going population is there on the earlier or later ends of the day!

Directions: At the intersection of Bayview and Seaside Ave.  The main entrance and parking are at the end of the Bayview, though each side street has access.


Eastern Trail, multiple towns
I know I've mentioned this wonderful trail system before but here I am, doing it again!  We have done most of the sections between Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Scarborough.  I like to choose which section to visit based on what I'm looking for that day.

Marshes/views - Scarborough section over the Nonesuch River.  Located on Rt 9/Pine Point Rd and offers a parking lot and poop bags with trash can.  often busy with cyclists and recreational fishers.  My favorite features are the views and spots where the dogs can get to the water to cool off.  It is exposed to the sun at all times and there's almost always a breeze.

peaceful, shady -

-Across the street from the section listed above.  Parking on Old Blue Point Rd at the Scarborough Memorial Cemetery.  I tend to encounter less traffic on this section.

-Cascade Rd - heading north from the parking on Cascade Rd (right down the street from Cascade Falls on Rt 98) is a section that I don't often encounter many others on and the unofficial jogging trails bring us close to the river while allowing us to get off the main path.

socialization practice - (note - some sections receive direct sun during the day) Saco sections from Thornton Academy to Route 1 by Seacoast RV.  The trail crosses Rt 1 via bridge and at this bridge on the south side of Rt 1 is a small dirt parking area that usually only contains one or two vehicles.  Heading north from here is more shaded and usually a little less trafficked.  Heading south passes by a farm at a distance and tends to be a great section to see and encounter lots of different trail users and sights.

Parking: Varies. Refer to map.

Directions: Varies.  Refer to map.


I'll likely add to this list as we visit new properties; I already have a running list!  In addition, I'll work making the guide more user-friendly but for now, it's start is just a place for ideas.  If you have a specific question, please comment or e-mail me!  Below are links to the organizations in the area that offer walking trails.  Happy vacationing!

Saco Bay Trails:
Eastern Trail:
Scarborough Land Trust: Properties not listed here but still awesome (and allow well-mannered off leash dogs)
Many of these also have FB pages too!

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