Find answers to commonly asked questions about the trails below. Need more help? We are very responsive to email, Facebook messages, or you can give us a call at 207-775-2411.
General Trail Etiquette:
- Have fun. Have an adventure. Connect with nature. Enjoy and share the trails!
- Clean up after yourself or pets. Many trails do not have trash cans as we do not have the capacity to empty them throughout the year. Trash is carry-in, carry-out.
- Respect posted warnings, signs, or other instructions.
- Hunting is not allowed in Portland or South Portland.
- Fire of any kind is not allowed on our trails.
- Cyclists: We have many mixed-use trails, please use caution when passing pedestrians on the trails. Slow down as you approach a pedestrian, person in a wheelchair, stroller, scooter, or someone using a slower form of transportation. Use a bell or announce yourself clearly. Pass slowly and at a safe distance. We strongly encourage all cyclists to wear reflective gear and appropriate lights for cycling in the dark. Share the trail! More smart cycling tips here.
- Winter trail users: Please avoid stepping through ski tracks. Likewise, skiers and fat bikers, please be respectful of slower moving walkers and snowshoers. The trails are more fun when we respect all the different modes through which we enjoy them.
- Spring or Wet Conditions: Following the winter thaw the trails can be very fragile. Some bridges or areas may be submerged or very muddy. We request that hikers, runners, and mountain bikers refrain from using the trails if they are too soggy. Seek out dryer, paved trails during wet conditions. Make an effort to walk through or over a wet area instead of going around it–walkers widening the trails by walking around problem spots can harm the surrounding environment.
- Leave No Trace: Portland Trails encourages our trail users to abide by the Leave-No-Trace principles, practiced on protected lands across the country. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Know before you go. Plan ahead with our trail maps!
- Stick to the trails. Use designated trails only. There’s a reason a trail exists where it does–stay on the trail and help us protect surrounding ecosystems.
- Carry out your trash, clean up poop.
- Leave the area as you find it.
- Keep wildlife wild. Do not feed animals or remove plants you’re not authorized to.
- Share our trails with other humans and animals.
Learn more about Leave-No-Trace principles for healthy, sustainable outdoor recreation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who pays for the trails? Portland Trails is a private 501c3 non-profit urban land trust, and does not receive any tax dollars. We are able to do what we do with the generous support of our members, donors, sponsors, and grants. Use the trails every day? Join us to support the trails that give you so much!
- Is Portland Trails part of the City of Portland? No, we are a private non-profit land trust. We work with numerous landowners, including municipalities, to create, preserve and enhance a large network of trails and open spaces. We work closely with Cities of Westbrook, Portland, Falmouth, and South Portland, and many private landowners through which our trails cross, as well as other land trusts like the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust or South Portland Land Trust. Portland Trails also independently owns a number of land parcels, including the majority of the Fore River Sanctuary, Berle Mile Pond, and other areas.
- Where can I take my dog? Most of the trails on the network are dog friendly. We encourage folks to enjoy the trails with their dogs, but remind you to be respectful of the trails and other trail users. Clean up after your pet. No matter how deep in the woods you are, pick up and carry out any waste or waste bags.
- Which trails can I have my dog off leash? This is a complicated question. Our trails cross multiple landowners’ properties so rules may vary from parcel to parcel, and town to town. Please respect the requests and signage of land owners on the trails. The City of Portland has a useful graphic below for a list of City-owned on and off-leash trails. Please note: dogs are not allowed in any public cemeteries, schools, playgrounds, or sports fields/courts or public fountains or pools.
- Who do I contact if I see something dangerous or broken on the trail? If you notice something very suspicious or dangerous, call the Portland Police at 9-1-1 or at their non-emergency line (207) 874-8479. If you observe a bridge is out, or there is some damage to the trails, give us a call at 207-775-2411 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are usually in the office M-F, from 9am-5pm. Feel free to leave a message after hours.
- Which trails are plowed in the winter? The City of Portland plows a number of trails in the network, including the Eastern Promenade, Back Cove Trail, trails in Deering Oaks Park, Fore River Pakrway Trail, and Bayside Trail. After a storm the city prioritizes sidewalks and routes to school. A map of the city’s plow routes can be found here. The South Portland Greenbelt is not plowed in the winter.
- Where can I buy a trail map? Our trail map is sold at our office, and a number of local retailers. It’s also available for free with membership! More info.
- Are there places where I can put in a boat? Check out our digital trail map to find boat launches on the trail. Please do not store your boats on the trails.
- Can I get to the trails by public transit. Absolutely! And we encourage it. Click on a trail head, then “More info” to get to the trail details page, where you can find which METRO Bus line is nearest to the trailhead. Additionally, METRO bus data is integrated into Google Maps, and you can check on the status of your bus with the Southern Maine Transit Tracker or third party transit apps.
- Do your trails have bike racks? Most of our downtown Portland trails have bike racks available, on or near the trails, including Baxter Woods, Evergreen Cemetery, Eastern Prom Trail, Western Prom, Bayside Trail, and the Back Cove Trail. Most other trails should have a place to lock a bike up using a cable or chain lock.
- Can I feed the ducks? NO! Please don’t feed any wildlife. People food is not good for animals. There are numerous ecological reasons why feeding wildlife is bad for the environment. Read more here.
- The port-o-potties on the Back Cove/Eastern Promenade are dirty, who do I call to fix this? You can fill out a Fix It! Portland request on the City of Portland website. Or contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 207-808-5400.
- How can I learn more about invasive plant species and what Portland Trails is doing to combat them on the trails? Check out this article from The Forecaster or this article from our Spring 2017 newsletter!
- I pick up trash on the trails all time, is that okay? Absolutely! Feel free to clean up any litter you see. If you want to get more involved in keeping our trails clean and green, sign up to be a trail steward here.
- How can I get more involved on the trails? Volunteer! Join us for one of our public volunteer days, which we host monthly from April to November. Check our calendar for upcoming dates and join us!