February 23rd, 2021
Enjoy a Scenic, Stellar Bike Ride Around Portland
With the arrival of autumn in Maine, some bicycling is indubitably in order.
There are 70 miles of trails and green space in Greater Portland, according to non-profit organization Portland Trails, which builds and maintains the trails.
This means there are plenty of trails to take, whether you’re running, biking, walking, rollerblading, scootering or performing an endless series of cartwheels while juggling chainsaws, which I wouldn’t recommend.
However, I would recommend one particular trail for bicycling enthusiasts. A picturesque, adventurous and dynamic route, this approximately 16-mile bike ride isn’t terribly strenuous, takes about three hours (depending on pace) and enables you to see a myriad of scenic Portland landmarks – and drink beer! You’ll see and experience Baxter Boulevard, Casco Bay, the Old Port, the Casco Bay Bridge, South Portland’s Green Belt Trail, Bug Light Park and, of course, a couple breweries.
Begin by parking in the Back Cove parking lot, located across the street from Hannaford Supermarkets on Forest Avenue, which is accessible off Exit 6B from I-295 north or Exit 6A from I-295 south.
From here, hop onto the beautiful Baxter Boulevard Trail. This is a scenic trail with amazing views of Back Cove that touches upon Edward Payson Park. Follow this all the way until you get to the trail that hugs I-295 south, where a barricade will keep you safe from all the motorists like Sammy Hagar who can’t drive 55. This is when you’ll deviate off this part of the trail and head under the bridge of I-295, known as Tukey’s Bridge. This will lead you to the Eastern Promenade Trail to the left, where a series of beguiling scenes await you.
Follow this straight for more nearly two miles, marveling at the 360-degrees of arresting charm and beauty (that is, after you pass the East End Treatment Plant) until the trail transitions into Commercial Street. This is where you’ll get the most urban conditions and, thus, traffic, (as well as pedestrian activity) so use caution as you proceed all the way down until you reach the Casco Bay Bridge. I’d suggest taking a right onto High Street, a left on York Street, then getting on the pedestrian side of the bridge to the left since it feels safer than the bike lane on the other side. It also provides an easier exit from the bridge. Just be mindful of and courteous to pedestrians. When you eventually see the exit to the left, follow this instead of continuing down the entire bridge.
When you get off, you’ll land on an enchanting cobblestone strip in what’s known as Thomas Knight Park, where you can take in the views of Portland beneath the bridge.
Just past this is Foulmouthed Brewing on the right, where you can stop for both beer and a snack. After that refreshing pause, continue straight on Ocean Street, then to Cottage Road, then take a left onto the paved path right after Hannaford, called the Green Belt Walkway. Follow this straight all the way until you reach Bug Light Park, and take in a stunning panoramic view of Portland and Casco Bay.
After taking a moment to enjoy this – the terminus of the first half of your bike ride – turn around and go back the way you came. (Indeed, this unfortunately is not a loop trail, but it’s so dynamic and ever-changing that it hardly matters.) Only this time, be sure to pull off the Eastern Prom Trail by Tukey’s Bridge and head over to Goodfire Brewing, Lone Pine Brewing, or any of those other breweries in that area.
After all, as Bissell Brothers is wont to say, “you earned it, bud.”
— Text & Photos: Garrick Hoffman. Garrick is a freelance writer and photographer living in Portland. Follow him on Instagram, @satisfaction_garrickteed, and visit his blog at GarrickHoffman.com.