Portland is Maine's largest city, and the Eastern Promenade Trail along Casco Bay offers an ideal introduction to this coastal town and its trail network. The "East Prom" begins in Old Port, a charming waterfront district with cobblestone streets and working piers. A massive brick foundry that once turned out steam engines now houses the trailside Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum. Outside, cheerfully restored narrow gauge train carsincluding a bright red Ocean Spray boxcarstand ready for service. For a nostalgic lark, take an out-and-back excursion on the slender railcars (narrow gauge rails stand just 2 feet apart). You'll skirt most of the trail's route.
Take the side path up to Fort Allen Park to search for a battleship cannon, or stay on the trail and look southeast to spot Fort Gorges, which was armed and active during the Civil and SpanishAmerican wars. You'll reach the trail midpoint at East End Beach, where all-weather kayakers launch into the surf. From here, eponymous Eastern Promenade Park flanks the trail for a mile.
Near the north end of the park, the rail-trail detours from the rail corridor up a short hill. From its rise, scan the bay for the remains of an old swing bridge that extends 0.3 mile over the water. This majestic span was once part of the Grand Trunk Railway between Quebec and Maine. At the crest of the hill, just past the city's water-treatment plant and a colorful mural, the rail-trail nears its end. From here, you can backtrack to Old Port or continue along the Back Cove Loop Trail or Bayside Trail.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the India Street trailhead, take I-295 to the Franklin Street Exit and follow it until it dead-ends at Commercial Street in Old Port. Turn left and drive to the end of the street. The trailhead is at the intersection of Commercial and India.
You can also park in Eastern Promenade Park off Cutter Street (three different lots). Restrooms are available at the East End boat launch.