Discover Maine’s Eastern Trail
By Cathy Genthner
The 65-mile long Eastern Trail extends from the Piscataqua River in Kittery to Bug Light in South Portland on Casco Bay and includes eight lighthouses along the way. The Eastern Trail (ET) is part of the 3,000 mile long East Coast Greenway that stretches from Key West, Florida to Calais, Maine. It is open to all kinds of recreational use, such as biking, hiking, bird watching, photography and even fishing along some spots. It consists of urban, remote, and suburban sections winding through the woods, along rivers and marshes, as well through towns and cities. However, less than three miles of the trail takes you on urban streets.
“The thing we hear the most from people who have used the trail is that when they are on the trail they are able to get away from the noise of being on the road, whether they are walking, bicycling or doing any number of things in a beautiful natural setting,” said Bob Hamblen, the president of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “When you are on the trail, all you are hearing is the wind in the trees.”
That is because non-motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail, which makes it a great way to experience the incredible landscape of Maine. Bird watching is a popular activity and you are likely to see other wildlife such as deer, turkeys and fox. While you are on the section of the trail that runs through the Scarborough Marsh, you can watch shore birds as well as swimming seals in areas where the trail crosses salt water. Horseback riding is allowed, as well as hiking, jogging, fishing, photography or it is a great place just to go for a picnic or read a good book.
Most recently, there have been bridges constructed across Route One in Saco and across the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk.
“It is quite a treat to walk or ride across these newly-constructed bridges. We’ve made the trail safer with these bridges and they give people a birds-eye view of their surroundings,” said Hamblen.
Much of the trail was constructed from the abandoned railroad that was originally built in 1841 so it is flat and is easy to bicycle or hike. You don’t have to be young or an athlete to enjoy all the things the ET has to offer
“I am so happy when I see people out there enjoying the trail. It is quiet and you can enjoy the outdoors without pollution and without polluting. The ride or walk is good for you. It is a great way to get in some exercise,” said Bruce Wakefield, a trustee of the Eastern Trail Alliance. “This is not our trail. It belongs to the people who use it.”