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8 Easy Hiking Trails Near Portland, Maine

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Spending time in nature is one of the easiest ways to relax and relieve stress. The best part is that it’s usually free! Portland, Maine is a great place to enjoy both the city life and getting lost in the woods. There are plenty of hiking trails and wilderness areas within just a 15 minute drive. Here are 8 easy hiking trails near Portland, Maine!

1. Pleasant Hill Preserve
Scarborough, Maine

Drive from Portland: 14 minutes
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Very Easy
Pets: Yes
Website: https://scarboroughlandtrust.org/slt-trails/pleasant-hill-preserve/

This is one of my favorite low-key walks to take for a break from the digital world. Accessible in all seasons, the main trail traverses a nice mix of both open fields and wooded areas. It includes a short section of paved trail that leads to an overlook of the main field, making it accessible for wheelchairs and other special accommodations. At only a 14 minute drive from downtown, this is one of the best hiking trails near Portland, Maine.

Walking trail leading through dense brush and grass
The easily accessible trail at the Pleasant Hill Preserve in Scarborough.

2. Gilsland Farm – Audubon Center
Falmouth, Maine

Drive from Portland: 10 minutes
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Very Easy
Pets: No
Website: https://www.maineaudubon.org/visit/gilsland-farm/

If you love to see wildlife, Gilsland Farm is the place for you. During one visit last summer, I saw 6 turkeys, 2 woodchucks, a deer, rabbits, squirrels, and countless species of birds. The land is beautiful. Trails go through several meadows, in and out of the woods, and along the Presumpscot River estuary.

Take a seat on one of the many benches along the way to bird watch, or simply to enjoy the scenery. Walk down to the small pond and try to spot any frogs and turtles you can. This is my number one recommendation for any visitors (and locals, of course) that want a relaxing taste of nature within a short drive of Portland.

Gilsland Farm Audubon Center - a great hiking trail near Portland, Maine
A meadow of wildflowers found at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth.

3. Hedgehog Mountain
Freeport, Maine

Drive from Portland: 23 minutes
Distance: 2.5 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Easy
Pets: Yes
Website: http://freeportconservationtrust.org/areas/hedgehog-mountain-trails/

Visit the highest point in Freeport and grab a far-off view of Mount Washington at the top of Hedgehog Mountain. Fair warning, it’s really not that high. But, it does have a cool lookout with a small map of what you’re viewing at the “top.”

The best part is the miles of hundreds-years old stone walls lining most of the trails. All of the trails are in the woods, and do have some slight elevation changes. This hike is perfect for anyone itching to get in their hiking boots, but wanting to keep it around an hour long.

4. Blackstrap Hill Community Forest
Falmouth, Maine

Drive from Portland: 21 minutes
Distance: 10.9 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Moderate
Pets: Yes
Website: https://falmouthlandtrust.org/properties/blackstrap-hill-preserve

The Blackstrap Hill Community Forest is my go-to in the area for a longer, more serious hike. You could be out on the trails anywhere from an hour to 5 hours, depending on the route you take. Navigate the hilly, secluded forest during spring, summer, fall, and winter. Make sure you’re fully equipped in winter months, though. The trails get extremely icy.

The first time my boyfriend and I hiked this trail in February, we shared a large number of embarrassing falls trying to make it down some of the hills. Even if there is fresh snow, you will get through to the icy layer when walking. Also, it’s important to note that this area is open for hunting during the allotted seasons throughout the year. Always be aware of your surroundings! All in all, this is one of my favorite hiking trails near Portland, Maine.

5. Presumpscot River Preserve
Portland, Maine

Drive from Portland: 17 minutes
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Pets: Yes
Website: http://trails.org/our-trails/presumpscot-river-preserve/

Follow the Presumpscot River while hiking along the hilly, rocky trails of its banks. This gorgeous hike will have you wanting to swim, canoe, and kayak the entire time you’re there. Don’t forget to check out the waterfall that is just a short diversion from the main trail. We tried this trail out in the winter, and it was extremely difficult without any boot spikes. The hilly terrain mixed with rock-solid sheets of ice on the forest floor made for a rough time.

Additionally, this is a hot spot for dog owners to take their dogs out (unleashed), which added some anxiety to the slipperiness. It was a great reminder to always be aware of your surroundings while out in nature. I can’t wait to go back here in the summer months!

A wooded opening on the Presumpscot River Preserve trail - a hiking trail near Portland, Maine
A beautiful sunset in the dark woods at the Presumpscot River Preserve in Portland.

6. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park
Freeport, Maine

Drive from Portland: 31 minutes
Distance: 4.4 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Pets: Yes
Admission fee: $4 for Maine residents, $6 for non-Maine residents
Website: https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/doc/parksearch/details.pl?park_id=31

Take a nice walk through the dense woods to find yourself looking out into the ocean. The rocky shoreline is great to take a seat after hiking for a while, and also provides some awesome opportunities to see wildlife. Watch ospreys nest on nearby Googins Island while learning about their life-cycles with the interpretive panels provided at the outlook.

There is a cool-looking picnic area that I want to try out, but the mosquitoes can certainly get overbearing in this area. You absolutely NEED bug spray if you plan on hiking here for more than 20 minutes (or even 3 minutes if you attract mosquitoes like I do).

Ocean view at Wolfe's Neck State Park in Freeport, Maine
Source: Visit Maine

7. Falmouth Nature Preserve
Falmouth, Maine

Drive from Portland: 15 minutes
Distance: 2.5 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Pets: Yes
Website: https://falmouthlandtrust.org/falmouth-corners-preserve

With several winding trails through the dark, quiet forest, this is one of the most peaceful hikes you will encounter in the area. The wet and humid air creates a perfect environment for all kinds of mushrooms and molds to grow on the ground and up sides of trees. Keep your eyes peeled and you will surely come across some crazy-looking organisms. It’s definitely one of the most shaded and musty hiking trails near Portland, Maine. There is also a section of the trails that leads out to a salt water estuary. Bring a snack and take a seat to reflect on life while enjoying some beautiful scenery on the marsh.

8. Wells Reserve
Wells, Maine

Drive from Portland: 38 minutes
Distance: 7 miles of networked trails
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Pets: No
Admission Fee: $5
Website: https://www.wellsreserve.org/

Talk about huge! At 2,250 acres, this wildlife reserve has plenty of both short and long hikes to choose from. They span over 7 miles and go through forest, meadows, marsh, and even straight to the Atlantic Ocean. Park by the education center and take the Knight Trail to Barrier Beach Trail and end at the Laudholm Beach to get a fantastic view of the mighty Maine coastline. This would be a lovely picnic destination on a warm summer day.

Your $5 admission donation supports the conservation and education efforts of the Wells Reserve and the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. After a long hike, make a stop at the brewery in Wells that has my all-time favorite beer.

The beach at the end of a trail at the Wells Reserve - one of the easiest trails for hiking around Portland, Maine.
The scenic beach waiting at the end of the Barrier Beach Trail at the Wells Reserve.
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Jaclyn

Wednesday 16th of October 2019

Excellent list, thank you!

Audrey

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

We'll be living across the road from the north trailhead of Sebago to the Sea in July - it would be be fun to have company come over to explore it with us!

Daina Grazulis

Tuesday 21st of May 2019

Sounds like a plan to me!!