Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Local Diversions: Portland's Back Cove Trail

Saturday, I had two antsy "dingos" and the disappointing feeling we would be bailing on the next day's hike.  I also had gorgeous skies and freakishly warm weather to lure me outside in spite of my commitments.

I was vaguely aware of the Back Cove Trail, a 3.5 mile loop around Portland's Back Cove and knew it was the perfect day to make our first visit.  I threw Tango a new marrow bone and snuck out with the girls.

Upon arrival, I realized we had just missed crashing a road race so there were plenty of people and a few dogs around - all great socialization/manners practice!

We started at the official entrance on Preble Street where there was a long parking lot.  At the beginning, there were a couple of short (2-5 minute) loops we later used to cool down and some army-style obstacles in the field for strength training.  We immediately set off jogging on the stone dust pathway, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the balancing effect of the cool breeze.

About a mile into our jog, we hit the portion of the trail that runs alongside the highway (weird!) and I accidentally bailed, taking us onto the Sebago Trail and almost reached the Eastern Promenade, another great Portland outdoor spot with trails, off leash areas, and a beach.  We could have done the Prom loop instead but I much preferred the stone dust to pavement  for the girls' joints so we turned around - but not before taking photos!


We were briefly back on the highway bridge before bearing left to continue on the Back Cove Trail.  The views for the next mile and a half or so were a pretty city/nature combo. On our other side, a broad median of grass with the road was perfect for giving wide berth to other dogs or groups.

That's a hard face to say 'no' to!
I was really proud when we were within a half mile (and a few minutes) of the lot but Ty was a machine and trotted through the lot without blinking, leading us on a second lap that I can truthfully say we completed as a jog, effectively doubling my jogging distance record!  The girls were ready for lap #3 but we were well into the afternoon by then so I had to apologize and head home.

Cool place to sit
We will definitely be back though, I loved the open, vista-centered loop.  3.5 miles is perfect and there is the opportunity to link up with other trails or wander the city, although it's not really within walking distance of the Old Port.  The only incline is to go over the Rt 295 bridge.  I imagine it is perpetually windy so I recommend a light wind-resistant layer.  There are sparse trash receptacles as well as a few bubblers.  Most of the trail is plenty broad and there was a natural flow between the runners, walkers, and dog owners but it got a little narrow by the bridge and I was happy for the traffic handle on the girls' Ruffwear leashes.  Personally, I like to be able to quantify my progress so I really liked the distance markers every quarter mile too.  No peaks, no hiking, but certainly a worthwhile local adventure!

Back Cove Trail's official page here.



  1. Nice urban trail to mix it up from our normal parks and work on in-recall skills :)