Sunday, March 1, 2015

Goodbye February, Hello March!

 If you’re in New England, you can attest to the cool but gorgeous weather on Saturday.  It was one of the nicest days of the month, bluebird skies from start to finish, and we took full advantage of Mother Nature’s offerings!

The day started with two brief walks on the snowmobile trails behind the house.  I often avoid going back there but we discovered riders had carved a new trail through a sparse deciduous glade that was absolutely stunning.

All this just for a quick jog!

When we returned home, Ty followed me around incessantly; she knew our day wasn’t over!  This is where I get to introduce one of our favorite places: Fuller Farm, owned by the Scarborough Land Trust.  There is no shortage of trails or stunning vistas here.  The trails are gentle and the footing is good.  The parking lot opens up to huge fields that are used for haymaking by the organic farm across the street. (A brief note that dogs are to be leashed in the fields from mid-spring to mid-summer for the safety of nesting birds.) The remainder of the 189 acres are wooded trails that crisscross one another and the Nonesuch River.  The property is less than ten minutes off of Route 1 in Saco/Scarborough and any number of route options are possible from a 20 minute loop to endless hours of walking/jogging, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing are possible.

Reminds me of the "green tunnel," not a humble southern Maine park!
By late afternoon, Tango was satisfied with the day’s quantity of exercise but Ty and I wanted to go out one more time so I gave Tango a bone filled with frozen coconut oil and food and off we went! Another, smaller gem in our area owned by the Scarborough Land Trust is Sewall Woods at the corner of Hearn and Ash Swamp Road in Scarborough.  From the parking (not plowed in winter), there is single trail to an intersection where one can choose between two loops (.5 mile and 1.0 mile).  Same rules apply but this is entirely wooded and, as we discovered yesterday from the tracks, is essentially Route 1 for deer so recall is a MUST. I believe this was the most mentally challenging walk Ty and I have taken.  She had to exercise so much self control (being the instinctual hunter she is).  We had so much fun just the two of us and her recall was impeccable.  Proud mamma right here!

Sunday we spent the afternoon at our absolute favorite park, Peirce Island, in Portsmouth with some amazing dog friends and their pups (dog friends are the best!). 

The city unloads much of its snow in the large dirt parking lot every winter.  
You have to see it to believe it.  I call in Mt Peirce South!
Peirce Island is where dogs go to be dogs.  In other words, if your dog has a hot date immediately following your walk, save this place for another day.  There’s mud, salt water, and every wonderfully dirty substance you can imagine (and I love it)!  Peirce Island is an island off of the downtown end of town with a single road running its length.  It includes a boat ramp, public pool, playground, and, most importantly, the very end is an off leash park.  PLEASE be aware that the road runs right up to the top where the town’s water treatment plant is, bisecting the park and many tourists do not realize it is a dead end so, while I truly feel it is one of the safest places for dogs to romp off leash, there are downfalls.

A dirty dog is a happy dog!
The pluses: a large play field  for social dogs and playing fetch, a large loop for walkers, another open space on a hill for more socializing, and water access.  Tango loves the gentle grades, dirt paths and greeting all the human walkers.  Ty lives to hunt squirrels.  She can be seen streaking from tree to tree, in the thick brush, and clopping through the low tide mud.  There is a little something to fit any dog’s fancy here and plenty of opportunities for humans to socialize too!

The main playing field to the left as you drive in.  The main water access is also on that side.
(Beware the strong currents at high tide.)
Regulars often prefer the second field, situated on a hill half way around the loop
on the side of the parking lot.  It is more protected from the wind.
The perimeter of the majority of the park is sticky, soggy mud in low tide.
Most visitors stick to the trails but the dogs love all the interesting features and smells.
Our secret spot!  Follow the water treatment plant's fence line on the
southern end of the park down the hill and to the left.  It is a brief but
secluded detour.  One feature to take note of is, in this particular spot,
when the tide recedes, so does the natural barrier to the edge of the park.

So that’s the start of our very unofficial guide to southern Maine for dog owners.  I feel compelled to put in a little plea at this point, although I am sure I am preaching to the choir, to be awesome stewards of the lands we visit, picking up after our pups and be respectful, responsible folks.  Thanks for sticking it out again; I hope I get into the blog-writing, photo-posting groove soon enough and manage to streamline my ramblings!  Until then, happy trails!

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