By Carey Kish, December 18, 2016
Maps of all kinds litter my office space, offering ample distraction whenever my concentration on the task at hand starts to wane. A certified geography geek, I can easily spend hours lost in far off thoughts while scanning a map’s highway numbers, trail routes, mountain and river names and other such features.
One of my favorite maps is produced by Portland Trails, the nonprofit urban land trust founded in 1991 that is dedicated to conservation, recreation and human-powered transportation in Greater Portland. I’ve carried every edition of the map on explorations of the urban wilds, logging countless hours of walking, running and biking over 20 years as a Portland area denizen.
Along with a host of public and private partners in the region, Portland Trails has worked to preserve and promote an outstanding system of parks, open spaces and green corridors as well as establish and maintain a robust network of nonmotorized, multiuse trails. These natural treasures connect people and places not only across Portland but also the neighboring communities of Falmouth, Westbrook and South Portland.
Portland Trails long ago surpassed its original goal of a 30-mile trail network. It reached the 50-mile mark in 2011, and today has exceeded 70 miles of public trails. Incredibly, there is a trail within a half-mile of every Portland residence, so it’s no wonder that the group records more than 1 million users annually, including locals and visitors.
The latest edition of the Portland Trails map describes 31 trails, a handful of which are recommended here for a good look around the region on foot. And while you’re out there, be sure to tip your hiking cap to the many volunteers, members and businesses for their wonderful support and tireless dedication over the past 25 years.